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Take Positive Steps to Insure Great Health

Education building entrance Bridge Street Sydney during the Flu EpidemicGreat heath requires positive attitudes about diet and lifestyle as well as follow through with action. With so much environmental toxic exposure from thousands of unnatural chemicals in our foods, water, and air, our immune systems suffer more than usual and struggle to maintain balance.

If you often suffer from colds, flu, infections, lack of energy, fatigue, or skin problems you may be low in some essential nutrients that support the immune system. I will be highlighting several nutrients with this and the next few articles to help you recognize foods as well as supplements that support immune function and therefore improved health.

The thymus gland located in the center of the chest approximately in front of the heart is critically important for immune function. T-cells mature in the thymus and fight off invading pathogens. Proper thymus function requires zinc. When zinc is deficient symptoms include poor growth in children, slow wound healing, skin problems, and anorexia to name a few. Supplementing zinc can help reverse these conditions. As well, over 300 enzyme reactions require zinc including mental functioning, DNA synthesis, reproduction, blood sugar control, and proper cell division.

Foods providing zinc include red meat, oysters, fish, nuts, seeds, gingerroot, pumpkin seeds, pecans, Brazil nuts, whole grains, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, legumes, garlic, beans, and potatoes. If these foods do not agree with you, you may need to supplement with 15 mg (milligrams) of zinc. Zinc must be balanced with copper, so do not believe more is better or zinc toxicity could occur. My philosophy is add in the foods providing needed nutrients first. If results are slow, talk with your health care provider or nutritionist to design a balanced supplement program for you.

Another important nutrient for immune function is selenium. Many foods are deficient in natural selenium due to depletion in agricultural soils. Low levels of selenium could lead to cancer and other disorders caused by chronic free radical damage to cells. Selenium serves as an antioxidant scooping up free radicals.

Selenium enables the production of glutathione peroxidase that is critical in our detoxification pathways ridding our bodies of environmental toxins. Selenium also helps to reduce inflammatory responses and this is important especially for those suffering the effects of arthritis. The best food providing selenium is Brazil nuts. Two nuts a day will provide all the selenium the immune system needs. Seafoods are another source as are leafy greens grown in selenium rich soil. If you need to supplement the standard dosage is 100 mcg (micrograms). Selenium works well with Vitamin E, form d with mixed tocopherols, at least 400 IU daily. Form dl is synthetic. Do not purchase this form.

Next week I will share with you two more essential nutrients for supporting our immune systems to insure good health in our busy lives.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN, owns NewTritionally Yours! providing nutrition education classes. She can be reached at (208) 290-6760.

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