While external factors like pollen, mold and weather can affect our immune systems, especially in the height of allergy season, making choices as to what we put inside our bodies can weaken our body’s chances at providing resistance to infection and toxins. There are several dietary triggers that we can avoid instead of consume, in hopes that our immune systems get a boost, not go bust.

Food Allergies

While food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance or Celiac Disease do not compromise our immune systems, food allergies do result from immune responds to foods over time, according to the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF). The foundation says that a food allergy occurs within minutes to a few hours to eating a trigger food, and symptoms can range from hives, itchy skin, vomiting to diarrhea and abdominal cramping. In extreme cases, the afflicted person could experience difficulty breathing or a decrease in blood pressure or even unconsciousness. To avoid a food allergic once you’ve experienced a reaction, IDF recommends simply avoiding the trigger food in the future.

The psoriatic disease in an autoimmune disease, meaning that psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are caused by an overactive immune system. In short, suffers’ immune systems launch an inflammatory attack against your own body’s own tissues, usually in the skin and joints. While the entirety of substances in sufferers’ bodies that are making the immune responsive “mistakes,” the organization lists a number of foods to both eat and avoid to help calm attacks. Dr. Meagen McCusker, assistant professor and clinical dermatologist at the University of Connecticut, says to eat more Mediterranean foods, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes and seeds, herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, grains and seafood. She says that poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be eaten in moderation, and sweets and meats can be avoided altogether. Of course, cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, gluten and corn can also help with inflammation.

Immune-Boosting Foods

To generally give our immune system engines more gas, we have to eat the proper fuel. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics lists protein and Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc as top immune-boosting nutrients for the body. The academy says that protein is “party of the body’s defense mechanism” and your diet should consist of lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, soy and unsalted nuts and seeds. Vitamin A regulates the immune system by protecting it from infections and also helps skin, tissues and your respiratory system stay health. Foods rich in Vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots and eggs. Oranges are well-known for their high in Vitamin C attributes, but you can also get your C from papaya, strawberries, tomato juice and red bell pepper. To improve your immune function, beef up on Vitamin E, which can be found in almonds, fortified cereals, vegetable oils, peanut butter, hazelnuts and spinach. Zinc, also found in many meats and seafoods, is known to help wounds heal.

Stopping Deficiency Before it Starts Finally, a diet of plant-based foods, according to NutritionFacts.org, can not only help the immune system, but beat some immune deficiency diseases before they start. A diet rich in items such as apples, tea, cocoa, gluten and kale could reverse chronic diseases associated with inflammation such as heart disease, obesity and arthritis. And, as with any diet to help your body, drinking plenty of water each day can help cut down on inflammation.

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