9 Super Foods to Boost the Immune System

Here are nine foods well-known for their immunity-boosting qualities according to

1. Yogurt
Providing you can eat dairy without any side effects, the natural probiotics found in yogurt are great for keeping the GI tract healthy and in order. Opt for ones without added sugar or sweeteners if possible.

2. Oats and Barley
Adding oats to your diet in the winter is easy, you can start your day with a hot bowl of oatmeal and you can switch barley for rice with your evening meal. Both of these grains are gentle on the stomach and are high in antioxidants — important for fighting off those winter bugs.

3. Beef
Beef is full of zinc, which many of us are low in over the winter months. Zinc helps to form healthy white blood cells which are important in the fight against winter illnesses. To get the most out of beef aim for organic, grass-fed beef at a frequency of 1-2x per week.

4. Garlic
For optimum garlic intake, you should eat two cloves of raw garlic a day. However, if this sounds unpalatable then you can either take garlic capsules or use lots of garlic in your cooking. The allicin in garlic is great for helping to fight off colds and flu.

5. Sweet Potatoes
Full of beta-carotene which is great for your skin, sweet potatoes make a healthier alternative to regular potatoes and are much lower on the GI scale.

6. Oily Fish and Shellfish
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect the lungs from infection. The selenium found in shellfish such as prawns, oysters and mussels increases the amount of cytokines in the white blood cells, which helps fight off winter ailments.

7. Mushrooms
Mushrooms are also good for keeping our white blood cells healthy, and they are a great source of vitamin D — which is in short supply in the winter months. Add some to your favorite dishes for an immune boost.

8. Chicken Soup
The go-to meal when you’re feeling under the weather, research shows that we should be eating chicken soup as a preventative dish as well as a restorative one. The salty brine helps to thin mucus, and the onions and vegetables added to the soup also provide infection-fighting nutrients.

9. Tea
Black and green tea both contain lots of cold-busting antioxidants, even the decaffeinated varieties. Add lemon and honey instead of milk and sugar for a blast of vitamin C and antibacterial goodness.


Fibromyalgia’s Most Impatient Ally

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and psychological distress, including anxiety and depression. Most often recognized by the stiffness and tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints, fibromyalgia may also cause co-morbid conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, and jaw pain.

While current research has focused on several possible causes of the condition from abnormal levels of serotonin and norepinephrine to various environmental and genetic factors, University of Alabama researcher, Dr. Jarred Younger believes the condition stems from brain inflammation. 

Younger, best known in the fibromyalgia community for his research on low-dose naltrexone (LDN), believes that low-level inflammation in the brain may be triggering an overreaction of the body’s immune system and, thus, be the cause of pain, fatigue, problems with thinking or memory, and depression.

Though Younger has developed over a dozen potential treatments for diagnosing and treating neuroinflammation, his research was at a standstill while trying to secure the needed grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH), a process that can take between 8 and ten years.

To bypass this red tape, Younger has taken matters in to his own hands and is in the early stages of creating a “fast-track clinical trial center” to test multiple treatments for fibromyalgia and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

Younger is relying on funding from donors to get the center up and running. He hopes this will cut the time it takes for a treatment to make it to public use down to just three years. Younger views the center as addressing the urgent, time-sensitive need for fibromyalgia research.

While raising $4 million is a tall order, Younger has already achieved some success in acquiring private funding as the primary researcher for two LDN/fibromyalgia studies at Stanford University. At regular doses, naltrexone is used to treat addiction to alcohol and certain opiate drugs. But at very low doses, it’s been found to reduce the symptoms of certain autoimmune and central nervous system conditions, including fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others.

The Stanford studies found LDN to be more effective than the three drugs currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of fibromyalgia by suppressing the activity of immune cells in the brain that have become hypersensitized. This discovery assisted thousands of patients who wanted to try LDN as a treatment option in obtaining prescriptions from their physicians.

“If I had gone through NIH, there’s no way that information would be available to patients because I’d still be going through the phases of the trials,” Younger said.

To further his research efforts, Younger moved to UAB from Stanford in 2014 to open his Neuroinflammation, Pain and Fatigue Laboratory. One of the lab’s central focuses is addressing the fact that there is no tool currently available to measure low-level inflammation in the brain. Younger and his team are working on various neuroimaging techniques that would allow for safe and non-invasive testing.

Also in addition to more LDN-related studies, Younger plans to test other therapies, including luteolin, curcumin and dextromethorphan in fibromyalgia and ME/CFS patients. Hopefully, private funding will pull through so he can make headway.

“My goal for 2016 is raising funds to get the center started,” he said. “I think there are so many folks who will want to see this happen that we will be able to piece it together.”


Improving Fibromyalgia Symptoms with Nutritional Supplements

Fibromyalgia is a nervous system disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. Though it affects up to 5 million Americans a year, the cause of this debilitating disease remains unclear. Several theories point to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress as an origin.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is often observed in patients with fibromyalgia. Known as the powerhouse of cells, specifically, muscle cells, the mitochondria convert glucose to ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is used by the muscles for energy.

Mitochondrial dysfunction can occur from exposure to environmental and dietary toxins, such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and pesticides that cause free radicals to form in the mitochondria. While the body can manage a certain amount of free radicals, if there are not enough antioxidants, damage can occur. This process, called oxidative stress, can be reduced by the intake of antioxidant supplements, including:

  • Vitamins A, C, and E
  • Glutathione
  • Co-enzyme Q10

Other supplementation is also important in the management of fibromyalgia and inflammation. The most common deficiencies observed in fibromyalgia patients include:

  • Magnesium
  • 5-HTP (the precursor to the neurotransmitter, serotonin)
  • Vitamin D
  • D-ribose
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine (plays a major roles in mitochondrial function)

Intravenous nutrient therapy has been reported to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia. While the best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidant nutrients is through a balanced diet consisting of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, in cases of mitochondrial dysfunction as seen in fibromyalgia, it may also be useful to supplement with the above nutrients for optimal health.

Subscribe to this RSS feed