Infectolab - diet and lifestyle

5 Diet And Lifestyle Changes That Help Boost Immunity In Patients With Chronic Disease

Having a chronic disease can often feel debilitating. Getting through the day can be an uphill battle when you feel as though your body is playing on the opposite team, but there are things that can be done to help ease symptoms. Chronic illnesses can range in severity, but they all have one thing in common: they stick around for the long run. Dealing with a constant illness can be exhausting, and that constant fatigue can lead to a lowered immune response in the body.

Those with chronic diseases often suffer from such a lowered immune response, and when the immune system isn’t functioning properly, it can create a wide array of other symptoms that aren’t attributed to the specific chronic ailment the person is suffering from – such as widespread inflammation, frequent or recurring infection, and digestive problems. This doesn’t have to be an accepted way of life for everyone suffering from chronic illness, though. The first step in managing the symptoms of your chronic illness is to boost immunity.

What boosts immunity?

The immune system is the part of the body that controls the response to infection and sends signals to help ward off further infection. It protects the body against outside threats such as bacteria and viruses. When the immune system isn’t running at optimal levels, viruses and other harmful things can infiltrate the body’s systems more easily and cause damage that may not occur in someone with a healthier immune function.

For those with chronic illness, it’s a lot harder to keep the immune system on the up and up, but it’s not impossible. Things that can help naturally boost the immune system, even in those with compromised immunity, include avoiding smoking, eating a diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals, getting regular exercise, avoiding alcohol, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Infectolab - exercise
Image by Jenny Hill on Unsplash: Getting enough exercise can help increase immune function and encourage the healthy response of antibodies.

What foods will boost my immune system?

When taking the diet approach to boosting the immune system, there are plenty of foods (most often fruits and vegetables) that will get things running smoothly. Introducing citrus fruits into the diet, for example, will help boost vitamin C levels, which will increase the production of cells designed to help fight off infections. Other foods high in vitamin C include red bell peppers, spinach, and papaya.

Another mineral that is required for healthy immune function is zinc. Zinc helps the body to fight off infections and is also required to make DNA and proteins, which aid in proper development and function. Foods that are high in zinc include meat, shellfish, chickpeas, beans, nuts, and wholegrain foods.

Some other foods that include immunity-boosting minerals and vitamins are ginger, which is jam-packed with anti-inflammatory properties; almonds, which are full of vitamin E (an antioxidant); and green tea, which is packed with epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – an antioxidant that has been known to reduce inflammation and boost the function of the immune system.

When getting enough vitamins and minerals through diet alone isn’t possible, choosing the right supplement is key in boosting immune function. Supplements should be chosen based on ingredients, dosage, and cost. When it comes to the dosage, speaking with your doctor will be a good starting point when choosing the right amount of each supplement you need to help manage chronic illness and boost immune function.

What changes could you make in your lifestyle to strengthen and protect your immune system?

The best lifestyle change (which also may be the hardest to accomplish) is getting a good sleep at the end of every day. During sleep, the body repairs muscles and tissues and synthesizes hormones. This is important for immune function, ensuring the muscles and tissues are healthy and the hormone levels in the body are where they’re supposed to be. 

Exercise also plays a huge role in the function of the immune system. For those who suffer from chronic disease, even the lightest of exercise might be a feat in and of itself, but it’s important to get as much exercise as possible to help boost the immune system’s abilities to fight off further infection and combat chronic illness. Even just going for a walk can cause changes in antibodies and white blood cells, both of which are designed to fight off further infection. Cardiovascular exercise in particular has been proven to help rid the lungs and airways of certain bacteria, which lessens the risk of getting a cold, flu or similar infection.

What can I do to boost my immunity?

Along with the aforementioned tips of eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and exercising, there are other things that can be incorporated into your lifestyle to help boost your immunity. Lowering stress, for example, can contribute greatly to the battle against chronic disease and decreased immune function. Participating in activities such as meditation, or even just the simple act of laughing, can reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for keeping stress levels in check.

Infectolab - lifestyle
Image by Laura Pratt on Unsplash: Sitting in the sun for just a half-hour per day can greatly increase immune function because of the vitamin D you’ll absorb from the rays.

Vitamin D is also a contributing vitamin in the immune response as it acts as a modulator. Vitamin D can be found in some foods such as fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, and other dairy products, but a simple way to get a good level of vitamin D is by simply enjoying the sunshine. As little as 30 minutes per day of sunlight can help you get all the vitamin D you need to help your body and immune system run properly and efficiently.

Featured image by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

Infectolab - nutrition

Why Good Nutrition Is Essential In Those Suffering From Chronic Disease

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to eat a balanced diet. Between not having enough time to cook healthy meals, the convenience of takeaway, and heavily processed food items taking center stage on grocery store shelves, maintaining a well-balanced diet can be a difficult thing to accomplish. However, it is possible to continue living virtually the same lifestyle while also getting all the whole foods your body needs to keep it running at its best.

For those who have been diagnosed with chronic disease, a well-balanced diet is that much more important. In fact, eating properly while dealing with chronic health issues is an essential part of managing the disease and the often debilitating symptoms it causes. A well-balanced diet consists of essential vitamins and nutrients, wholegrains, and dairy or dairy alternatives. Getting at least five servings of fruit and vegetables, along with high-fiber foods and foods that provide enough protein and carbohydrates, is what it takes to eat well and feel better.

How does nutrition affect chronic disease?

That old saying, “You are what you eat”, became a cliché for a reason. It’s true: what you put into your body is directly responsible for how it functions on a daily basis. In the case of chronic disease, the saying holds even more weight, because nutrition can be one of the most basic ways to combat further complications from the disease. When someone with a chronic illness isn’t following a healthy diet, it can lead to further inflammation, obesity, lack of energy, and the worsening of immune function.

Because of this, having a chronic disease in conjunction with a poor diet can lead to other ailments that could be avoided. Certain foods can also assist in repairing or increasing the body’s immune response, which in turn could help the symptoms of a chronic illness go into remission or become more easily dealt with.

Why is nutrition essential for treating chronic disease?

As mentioned above, good nutrition is important for the overall function of the body. When it comes to certain chronic illnesses, symptoms can be worsened or even directly triggered by giving the body too much of what it doesn’t need and too little of what it does. For example, if someone is suffering from a chronic illness that causes widespread inflammation and their diet is heavy in foods that lead to inflammation such as sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods, this will make their symptoms and illness worse.

When diet isn’t in check, battling or improving a chronic illness is next to impossible. The treatment of most chronic illnesses will require medication to manage the specific ailment or the symptoms it causes, but having a well-balanced diet is the boost the medication needs to encourage better overall function of the body as a whole.

Infectolab - diet
Image by Katie Smith on Unsplash: Treating chronic disease starts from the inside. 

How does a healthy diet reduce the risk of chronic disease?

Some chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, could be prevented through healthy living. According to the World Health Organization, a number close to 80% of all chronic diseases that fall under the aforementioned categories could be prevented. In taking control of your diet, you can give your body a fighting chance to get back to well and away from symptoms of your chronic ailments.

In some cases, certain chronic diseases can even be reversed, or the symptoms lessened to almost nonexistent levels, when a well-balanced diet is introduced and stuck with. When treating chronic diseases, eating properly plays a pivotal role in whether or not the treatment will be effective or not, because often the treatment alone isn’t enough if a person continues to consume foods that exacerbate their symptoms.

How diet affects your immune system

The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against viruses, bacteria, and any other harmful invaders that would otherwise wreak havoc on the body and its systems. When a diet is full of things that don’t contribute to the overall healthy function of the body, it can cause the immune system to malfunction, which in turn leads to further symptoms of chronic disease and a less apt defense system against new illnesses.

When the body has too much of a bad thing – sugar, for example – it can actually lead to immune cells becoming dormant, lowering their ability to attack bacteria and virus cells effectively. This suppression of immune function can be a contributing factor in developing or worsening chronic disease in those who are not eating healthily.

Essential vitamins and minerals and where to find them

The best way to increase immune function in those who suffer from chronic illness is by introducing essential vitamins and minerals through diet. The most essential include vitamin C, B, D, and E; folic acid; iron; selenium; and zinc. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, but is also found in high amounts in red bell peppers and spinach. Vitamin B can be best ingested through wholegrains such as brown rice and millet; red meat; milk and cheese; and dark leafy greens, including spinach and broccoli. Vitamin D is a bit easier to get, as it comes naturally from the sun’s rays, but it can also be found in fish, beef liver, and egg yolks. High amounts of Vitamin E can be found in nuts such as almonds, seeds such as sunflower seeds, and vegetable oils.

Infectolab - healthy food
Image by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash: Mixing up your diet to include all the necessary vitamins and minerals will help you in your management of chronic illness.

As for minerals, folic acid comes in high amounts in leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits, while iron is generally easier to consume through organ meats, shellfish, red meat, and turkey. When it comes to getting a good amount of selenium, eating seafood and white meat is the best bet. Finally, when you need to up your zinc intake, eating beef, egg yolks, and dark chocolate will help you get to the recommended amount.

Featured image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Infectolab - gut health

Can Lyme Disease Disrupt The Microbiome?

Lyme disease can cause serious issues throughout a patient’s entire body. This is one of the attributes that makes the disease so hard to pin down, and why reliable diagnosis is one of the most obvious problems doctors and patients face. Despite Lyme disease manifesting in all sorts of various ways, one of the areas it primarily affects is the gut. Around 70–80% of our immune system is controlled by our gut and the microbiome (helpful bacteria) contained within it. Lyme has a significant effect on immune regulation and often causes sustained inflammation in its chronic form. Therefore, Lyme disease has a major impact on gut health. This can severely impede recovery, leading to further issues and complications down the line. The subject of Lyme disease and the microbiome is often understudied by most doctors, yet its impact on the disease as a whole is significant.

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Infectolab - sleep

What Role Does Sleep Play In Fighting Lyme Disease?

Sleep is an important part of keeping our bodies healthy. We often think of sleep as a total mind and body shutdown, but in reality, that’s not the case. Although our conscious mind switches off, sleep is actually a very active state for us. A lot of processing, strengthening, and restoration occurs while we sleep, although exactly how and why this process works the way it does is still a bit of a mystery to scientists. Physically, our bodies use sleep to repair damaged muscle and tissue and support our immune system. Mentally, all the information we’ve picked up during the course of the day is sorted through and transferred to our long-term memory banks. Sleep is vitally important for patients fighting chronic diseases. One of the most prevalent chronic diseases out there is Lyme disease; so what role does sleep play in fighting Lyme?

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Infectolab - healthy food

Does Healthy Eating Really Help Battle Chronic Disease?

Maintaining a healthy weight is important to our overall general health. Worldwide incidences of obesity and overweightness are continuing to climb every year in the Western world, and especially in America. This is having an overall detrimental effect on our wellbeing, resulting in higher numbers of heart disease, diabetes, and even mental disorders such as depression. What you choose to put into your body can have a startling effect on your state of mind, as well as your physical health. Healthy eating is also recommended when your body is fighting a chronic disease; these long-term conditions put the body under immense strain, and are often cumulative in effect. There are many different forms of chronic disease out there – can healthy eating really help battle them all?

Continue reading “Does Healthy Eating Really Help Battle Chronic Disease?”