s it possible to boost your immune system and lose weight at the same time? Is there even a correlation between weight loss and enhancing your immune system’s response? I have all the answers below, but before we get started, let’s start from the very beginning. Namely, in the doctor’s office.
Within a healthcare setting, doctors tend to see more people who are feeling unwell rather than healthy individuals.
So how do you become a part of the group that’s so healthy that they seldom see their doctor instead?
In theory it’s quite easy accomplish. In practice though it requires determination in the form of developing healthier habits to avoid ailments.
Le’ts begin by taking a look at the body’s first line of defense: the immune system.
But what exactly is immunity and the purpose of the immune system?
Immunity is the body’s defense mechanism that helps fight and prevent illness.
The body works hard on a daily basis to maintain a healthy balance between inner processes and the outer environment. Having a strong immunity essentially determines how well one feels as it protects against unruly harmful disease(s) and associated problems.
How To Boost The Immune System
Well, there are actually a few healthy habits that we can adopt that will not only help maintain a healthy immune system but can also lead to weight loss!
I know… it sounds obscure. However, the habits that are required to maintain optimal immunity (or boost your immune system) are actually the SAME habits needed to lose weight.
See, funny enough, immunity and weight are actually linked by inflammation.
Immunity and Weight Connection
Factors like bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins in the environment, food allergies and a poor-quality diet all decrease the immune system. They also lead to inflammation and then eventually cause weight gain!
What happens next?
A nasty cycle gets created.
Inflammation and its Effects
Now acute inflammation is actually a necessary defense mechanism. It protects against injurious stimuli (by removing it) and thereby promotes healing to take place.
The problem is when this acute inflammation becomes uncontrolled (from the accumulation of numerous factors affecting your immune system). This leads to the formation of chronic diseases, such as, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, and even OBESITY.
In fact, more and more research claims that inflammation is truly related to the accumulation of excessive body fat.
Therefore, to break the inflammation cycle, we need to embrace healthy living practices which will improve both our immune system AND our weight problems. So essentially if you are extremely overweight and/or obese, you can boost your immune system through losing weight.
Let’s look at these healthy habits that we can start applying today. These are some of the best habits to help you lose weight and boost your immune system together!
How To Boost Your Immune System AND Lose Weight!
Diet and Immune System
Plant based derived foods are the best to consume as they protect immune function by decreasing inflammation within the body.
And what exactly is whole foods plant-based diet you ask?
Whole foods: is natural foods that are not heavily processed
Plant-based: are foods that are derived from plants and not animals including meat, milk, eggs or honey.
Great examples of plant based diets include the Mediterranean diet and the Anti-Inflammatory diet.
The Mediterranean diet It is primarily plant-based diet and focuses on whole food and very limited quantities of any type of packaged or processed goods:
- Items that are consumed regularly in high amounts include: veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and pulses.
- Food that can be consumed in abundance includes: olive oil, olives, avocados, and other things that are high in mono and polyunsaturated fats.
- Items that can only be eaten in a limited amount: meat and meat products (especially red meat, where beef, pork, and lamb were reserved for special occasions)
- Things that you should very rarely consume are: ice cream, butter, processed meats, whole fat dairy products (except if they were fermented).
The Anti-Inflammatory diet involves basically replacing sugary refined foods with whole, nutrient-rich foods which are healthy for all cells, tissues, and organs.
The following is a list of food categories that are excellent examples of non-inflammatory items.
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries
- Dark red grapes
- Nutrition-dense vegetables
- Beans and lentils
- Green tea
- Red wine (in moderation)
- Avocado and coconut
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and almonds
- Dark chocolate
Just like our immune system, an unhealthy diet is also a large proponent of weight gain.
Diet and Weight Loss
Many chronic diseases such as obesity are caused by excess inflammation (as discussed earlier). And one cause of excess inflammation is eating a diet poor in whole foods.
Eating excess calories of sugar, starches, and trans-fats is a major cause for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Which is why a wholefoods plant-based diet low in animal protein, fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates (with plenty of flavor) is recommended.
Scientific evidence agrees that moving to a wholefoods plant-based diet can prevent and even reverse chronic disease like obesity.
The benefits of eating primarily plant based items are not just reversal of obesity but also disease prevention, easy weight management and a lighter environmental footprint.
It would be wise to start eating plant-based foods as it not only will boost your immune system but can help you lose weight as well!
Exercise and Immune System
According to research, moderate amounts of regular aerobic exercise leads to a better immune system response.
During moderate exercises, there is a temporary boost in the production of immune cells. These cells in turn circulate more quickly throughout the body to kill off bacteria and viruses.
If exercise is continued on a daily basis, this can strengthen immunity and have long lasting effects. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be excessive!
On the contrary, it’s been found that sedentary or excessive exercise has deleterious effect on immunity.
Moderate exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, mowing the lawn etc for 20-30 mins, 5 days a week is ideal for a strong immune system.
For weight loss, exercise is also an important component.
Exercise and Weight Loss
The exercises found to work the best when wanting to shed pounds were again aerobic workouts or better known as “cardio”. However, the difference lies in the intensity of the workouts.
High intensity aerobic exercises have been found to be more effective than low intensity aerobic workouts when weight loss is the main concern.
Good examples include Zumba, spin class, kickboxing, high intensity interval training (HIIT) etc.
BUT, with that being said, ANY exercise regardless of what intensity it may be, will help with weight loss IF you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Moral of the story, improve your immune system and weight loss efforts by choosing to work out regularly!