Nutrients to fight infection and cancer

The immune system acts in a wide variety of ways to protect the body from infection, and the formation of cancers. if you are abnormally tired, catch frequent colds or other infections, your immune system may not be working as effectively as it could be. It may be overloaded or undernourished, especially if it is dealing with a long-term allergic condition. Try nurturing your immune system with a little loving care. You may be surprised at the result.

Lightening the load

We are all exposed to industrial or other man-made chemicals in the atmosphere, in food and often at work. It is part of the function of the immune system to detoxify these harmful chemicals.

The first step is to reduce the load on your immune system by avoiding exposure to unnecessary chemicals. Restricting alcohol intake, giving up smoking and avoiding smoky rooms can all help. Other recreational drugs should be avoided and pharmaceutical drugs taken sparingly or not at all, if possible. If you are exposed to industrial chemicals, follow carefully any instructions given for your protection.

You can reduce your consumption of food additives by avoiding foods that contain preservatives, colouring agents and flavourings. It is a good idea to minimize the amount of smoked, salted, pickled or barbecued food that you eat. It may help to eat organic produce when possible, and to drink filtered or spring water.

Try to reduce the stress in your life. Make time for regular relaxation and enjoyment and don't deprive yourself of sleep. Always try to take your full holiday entitlement.

If you do not take any exercise, try to set aside some time to devote to it. At the very least, go for a walk or a cycle ride every weekend, building up to two, then three times a week. Regular exercise directly benefits the immune system and keeps it working effectively.

If you suffer from an allergy, it may be acting as a depressant on your immune system. Try to reduce this effect by avoiding the cause, seeking homeopathic treatment, or consulting a nutritional or allergy practitioner for advice on how to overcome it.

Immunity enhancers

GARLIC helps to fight infection and may stimulate the immune system in other ways.

LIQUORICE stimulates the adrenal gland, counteracting stress, inflammation and infection.

ECHINACEA has been used to fight various infections.

GOLDENSEAL can help to overcome bacterial infection and parasitic invasion

Always follow the manufacturer Instructions.

The immune system is best nourished by eating a good-quality diet and drinking plenty of water. This means eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, a reasonable quantity of meat and fish, and very little sugar and fat.

If you are a vegetarian, try to eat a wide variety of protein-rich foods. A high-fibre diet appears to reduce the risk of bowel cancer. It is also a good idea to try to maintain your weight at the correct level for your height and age, as some cancers are known to be more common in over- weight people.

The following nutrients may be of particular benefit.

MAGNESIUM, ZINC AND THE B-VITAMINS, ESPECIALLY B6, PANTOTHENIC ACID AND FOLIC ACID: these nutrients help the human body to maintain the immune system in a healthy working state.

ANTI-OXIDANT MINERALS AND VITAMINS, SUCH AS ZINC, SELENIUM, VITAMINS C, E AND P, AND BETA-CAROTENE: these help to neutralize the unstable substances, known as free radicals that can damage cells.

VITAMIN F and other good-quality oils and fat from vegetable sources (preferably cold-pressed), and oily fish may also be beneficial.

Excessive animal fat may suppress immunity and appear to increase the risk of breast, bowel, and prostate cancers. Some nutritionists recommend restricting all fat to less than 5Og (1.75oz) a day but, if you do this, make sure that you are still getting sufficient fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).

To avoid dietary imbalance, mineral and vitamin supplements should not be taken in large doses, except with professional guidance.

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