Cancer patients are often left with a compromised immune system which makes them more susceptible to infections and disease. Resources designed to defend our bodies are stymied by the cancer treatment or cancer itself. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to reverse this.
In researching ways to rebuild my body's immune strengths in a natural way, I recently found an excellent article by Prevention Magazine titled "9 Power Foods That Boost Immunity." Why, I wondered, are they considered power foods? What happens that is so unique with these nine foods? I decided to find out.
Although nine foods were listed (yogurt, oats & barley, garlic, fish, chicken soup, tea, beef, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms) I chose the first three foods for this article. I plan to complete the list in later posts.
Here are the first three stars in the galaxy of healing:
1. Yogurt has probiotics, live microorganisms that have a beneficial health effect on the host, you! The specific probiotic to look for in yogurt is Lactobacillus reuteri or L. reuteri, which appears to stimulate white blood cells. It is an active culture that keeps our digestive system free of disease-causing germs. In a Swedish study, workers taking the probiotic reduced their sick days by 33 percent. According to Prevention.com, “any yogurt with a Live and Active Cultures seal contains some beneficial bugs, but Stonyfield Farm is the only US brand that contains this specific strain.” L. reuteri gives its host a high level of resistance to salmonella and E. coli, as well as ulcerative colitis. Other benefits cover a variety of health conditions - including reduction of gastro-intestinal distress, infant colic, dental/oral health including reduction of the effects of gingivitis, and overall wellness.
2. Oats and Barley contain beta-glucan, immune enhancing properties. Widely studied for its medicinal value, there are many current scientific studies covering a wide range of conditions, including liver toxicity, auto-immune disorders, and as an adjuvant to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Studies show that a diet high in beta-glucan from oats helps to lower blood LDL (bad) cholesterol. Other food sources of beta-glucan soluble fiber include dried beans and peas, flax seed , fruits such as oranges and apples, carrots, and psyllium seed husks. In addition, oats also contain avenanthramides (a type of antioxidants) and are, of course, a whole grain.
3. Garlic, the favorite of every nutrition list for millennia, is powered by an active ingredient, allicin, giving it superior antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It fights infection and bacteria so well that it is effective against fatal infections such as tuberculosis and MRSA, according to Natural Health Publications. Studies suggest that those who eat more than six cloves a week have a 30 percent lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50 percent lower rate of stomach cancer.
As I discover more and more about how nature has engineered healing properties into her abundant bounty of beautiful, healthy and delicious foods, I find that I’ve made a shift in my thinking. Instead of worrying about what to eliminate from our diet, I find that I am now fixated on the notion that powerful healing nutrients are masquerading as food and it is up to me to usher them into my life.