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6 Things Harming Your Immune System Plus 10 Herbs For Immune Support

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6 Things Harming Your Immune System Plus 10 Herbs For Immune Support Infographic © herbs-info.com. Image sources: see foot of page

The immune system plays a vital role in protecting us from disease. The body’s immune response reacts to foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – it basically safeguards our health! However, there are many other things that can tax the immune system, potentially weakening it and making us more prone to illness. If we eat poor quality food, engage in “health vices” and practice unhealthy habits that damage the immune response of the body it can result in making us more prone to disease – and even death.

We’ve researched many scientific studies to bring you this super list of substances and activities having positive or negative effects on your immune system. References to the scientific papers (27 in all) are all listed at the end.

Here’s the list of 6 Things Harming Your Immune System:

#1: Sugar

Intake of food with high sugar content has been directly linked to the development of diabetes but how does it affect immunity? Studies have now found a direct correlation between hyperglycemia (a.k.a. high blood sugar) and impaired immunity. A study published in 2016 found that states of acute hyperglycemia contributed to a defective immune response, specifically a decreased production of IL-6, a part of the immune system that fights against numerous infections like Streptococcus pneumoniae. Another study found that hyperglycemia also reduced T and B lymphocytes, one of the immune system’s first responders to a pathogen. [1][2]

#2: High-Fat Junk Food Diets

A diet with a high-fat intake (usually because of fast food and junk food) greatly affects the body’s immune response. According to a study published by Iyer, A., et. al. in 2015, diets with increase fat and carbohydrate intake promotes unhealthy weight gain or increased “adiposity”. [3] Adiposity alters the body’s normal metabolic processes which in turn affects the immune system. A similar study found that increase in fatty acid intake led to a poor immune response to infection. [4]

#3: Alcohol

Alcohol consumption and immunity were linked in a 2011 study on adolescents who reported occasional “weekend drinking”. The results of the study revealed that alcohol consumption reduced the mean levels of CD3, CD4, and CD8 T-lymphocytes in the blood, increasing a person’s health risk for disease because of drastically reduced immune response. Similar results were seen in a study on tumor progression and immunity, published in 2015. The study showed that alcohol consumption not only depressed the body’s immune response, it also gave way towards accelerated tumor progression. [5][6]

#4: Smoking

Smoking not only increases your risk for heart disease, it also has drastic effects on the immune system. Several studies have found that smoking depresses the body’s immune response to infections, particularly infections that affect the lungs. A strong link between smoking and lung immunity was found in a 2015 study in individuals affected by HIV. Similar results were seen in studies involving smokers and tuberculous infection (or pulmonary TB). This can be attributed to smoking’s effects on pulmonary tissues and cells, which suppress the immune response to bacteria and viruses. [7][8]

#5: Not Getting Enough Sleep

While the advice of getting eight-hours of sleep is not without merit, sleep is very subjective – keep that in mind. However, a recent publication by Harvard encourages people to get better quality and longer sleep to promote cognition and mental health, with recent studies linking sleep with immunity as well. A study published in 2015 found that sleep-deprivation causes a decrease in immune cells, compromising the body’s immunity. Another study in the same year had similar results, correlating shorter sleep duration with an increased susceptibility with the common cold. [9][10][11]

#6: Stress

The same study that found that sleep deprivation affected immunity, also discovered the same effects when it came to stress. Test subjects that were placed in stressful situations experienced a decrease in immune cells as well, affecting the body’s ability to fight pathogens. The study found that sleep disturbance and stress decreased the immune response in Trichinella spiralis-infected test subjects. [10]

Of course, there are herbs that are considered valuable for giving your immune system a boost. Take a look at the following list of ten herbs that science has indicated may help support your body against dangerous pathogens:

#1: Echinacea

According to Balan, et. al. in 2016, herbal remedies with Echinacea as a major ingredient significant boosted immunity. The study found that Echinacea drops increased circulating antibodies in response to infection. Historically, Echinacea was used to manage lung infections, colds/flu and inflammatory conditions. [12]

#2: Cloves

There are a few published studies on cloves and immunity but significant results point in one direction – clove extracts, typically in an oil form, boosted humoral response of the immune system. The humoral response involves body’s antibodies, usually in response to a bacterial and viral infection. Another study found that cloves also increased the amount of lymphocytes in the spleen; lymphocytes are white blood cells that mediate the body’s immunity. [13][14]

#3: Astragalus

Astragalus has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds, possibly thousands of years, but has been recently been making its way into Western medicine. Extracts from the astragalus plant have been discovered to be able to boost the body’s immune function. A 2015 study found that a polysaccharide extract of the plant improved intestinal immunity. Another found that the same extract improve the body’s cell-mediate immune response (increasing the number of CD4 and CD8 T-cells), the part of our immune system that responds to pathogens like fungi. [15][16]

#4: Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw is a part of native Peruvian medicine, with numerous health benefits. A study published in 2015 by Yunis-Aquinaga, et. al. found that the plant (also known as Uncaria tomentosa) improves immune activity in test subjects infected with Streptoccocus agalactiae. The plant is also able to lend a hand to the body’s natural response to a foreign substance – the inflammatory process. [17][18]

#5: Oregano

Orgeno is a powerful herb known for its immune boosting properties. It was studied (together with sage) and found to enhance the body’s pathogen recognition abilities and improving immune-competent cell counts. After taking oregano, the body was seen to respond to foreign substances better compared to the control group. [19]

#6: Ginger

Ginger is a famous anti-oxidant, popularly used to soothe upset stomachs. It’s strong anti-oxidant capabilities make it an excellent choice in improving your immune system response. A study on oil extracts from ginger revealed that it is able to improve cell-mediated immune response through the production of T-lymphocytes. The study concludes that ginger can be good alternative when managing chronic inflammation and auto-immune disease. [20]

#7: Bell Peppers

If you think citrus fruits have the monopoly on vitamin C, you’re wrong! According to the USDA, for every 100 grams of bell peppers, there are 80.4 milligrams of vitamin C. That is actually higher than the vitamin content of oranges – which is just 53.2 milligrams for every 100 grams of oranges. Vitamin C is a well-studied immune system booster. [21][22][23]

#8: Garlic

A study on raw garlic published by Charron, et. al. in 2015 showed that garlic intake was able to improve the human body’s immunity to cancer cells. The clinical trial involved raw garlic-containing meals and 17 volunteers. Their blood was collected and analyzed which showed the promising immune-boosting response to garlic intake. [24]

#9: Turmeric

Turmeric or Curcuma longa as it is called scientifically has significant immunostimulant abilities. This property of the herb was seen in a 2012 study on turmeric and ginger. The study revealed that turmeric was able to improve non-specific immune responses in the body in immunocompromised test subjects. This suggests that turmeric can be used to augment the immune response of people affected by immune system disorders. [25]

#10: Panax Ginseng

Ginseng plays a vital role in traditional Eastern medicine, also known for powerful antioxidant abilities. Different studies have focused on the effects of ginseng on the body’s immunity. Extracts of ginseng leaves have been able to improve cellular immunity, as studied by Tran, et. al. in 2014. Another study found that ginseng was not only able to boost immunity, it was also able to diminish lung disease in affected test subjects in another study in 2014. [26][27]


[1] Spindler, M., et. al. (2016). Acute hyperglycemia impairs IL‐6 expression in humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768063/

[2] Rubinstein, M., Genaro, A., & Wald, M. (2013). Differential effect of hyperglycaemia on the immune response in an experimental model of diabetes in BALB/cByJ and C57Bl/6J mice: participation of oxidative stress. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23379439

[3] Iyer, A., et. al. (2015). Nutrient and immune sensing are obligate pathways in metabolism, immunity, and disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26065858

[4] Myles, I., et. al. (2014). Effects of parental omega-3 fatty acid intake on offspring microbiome and immunity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24489864

[5] Naude, C., et. al. (2011). Lymphocyte measures in treatment-naïve 13–15 year old adolescents with Alcohol Use Disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153431/

[6] Zhang, Z., et. al. (2015). Alcohol consumption and antitumor immunity: dynamic changes from activation to accelerated deterioration of the immune system. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25427915

[7] Rossouw, T., Anderson, R. & Feldman C. (2015). Impact of HIV infection and smoking on lung immunity and related disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26250491

[8] O’Leary, S., et. al. (2014). Cigarette smoking impairs human pulmonary immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25390734

[9] Harvard Health Letter (3/1/2014). Sharpen thinking skills with a better night’s sleep. http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sharpen-thinking-skills-with-a-better-nights-sleep

[10] Ibarra-Coronardo, E. (2015). Sleep deprivation induces changes in immunity in Trichinella spiralis-infected rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26157345

[11] Prather, A., et. al. (2015). Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26118561

[12] Balan, B., et. al. (2016). The modulatory influence of some Echinacea-based remedies on antibody production and cellular immunity in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4829818/

[13] Carrasco, F., et. al. (2009). Immunomodulatory activity of Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Salvia officinalis L. and Syzygium aromaticum L. essential oils: evidence for humor- and cell-mediated responses. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19589240

[14] Isaeva, V., et. al. (2014). [Effect of prolonged administration of low doses of essential oils on the immune response and sensitivity of mice to the action of ionizing radiation]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25764843

[15] Huang, C., Zhan, J. & Luo, J. (2015). [Effects of astragalus polysaccharide on intestinal immune function of rats with severe scald injury]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25876637

[16] Abuelsaad, A. (2014). Supplementation with Astragalus polysaccharides alters Aeromonas-induced tissue-specific cellular immune response. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24456824

[17] Akesson, C., et. al. (2003). An extract of Uncaria tomentosa inhibiting cell division and NF-kappa B activity without inducing cell death. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14636838

[18] Aguilar, J., et. al. (2002). Anti-inflammatory activity of two different extracts of Uncaria tomentosa (Rubiaceae). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874102000934

[19] Vattem, D., et. al. (2013). Dietary supplementation with two Lamiaceae herbs-(oregano and sage) modulates innate immunity parameters in Lumbricus terrestris. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579013/

[20] Zhou, H., Deng, Y. & Xie, Q. (2006). The modulatory effects of the volatile oil of ginger on the cellular immune response in vitro and in vivo in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16338110

[21] USDA. Bell peppers. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?qlookup=11333

[22] USDA. Oranges. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?qlookup=09200

[23] Sorice, A., et. al. (2014). Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24766384

[24] Charron, C., et. al. (2015). A Single Meal Containing Raw, Crushed Garlic Influences Expression of Immunity- and Cancer-Related Genes in Whole Blood of Humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26423732

[25] Chakraborty, B. & Sengupta, M. (2012). Boosting of nonspecific host response by aromatic spices turmeric and ginger in immunocompromised mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23295981

[26] Tran, T., et. al. (2014). Dammarane triterpenes from the leaves of Panax ginseng enhance cellular immunity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24290061

[27] Lee, J., et. al. (2014). Ginseng diminishes lung disease in mice immunized with formalin-inactivated respiratory syncytial virus after challenge by modulating host immune responses. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25051168

Infographic Image Sources:

Echinacea – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EchinaceaPurpureaMaxima1a.UME.JPG
Cloves – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ClovesDried.jpg
Astragalus – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Astragalus_tragacantha_ssp._vicentinus.JPG
Cat’s Claw – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Acacia_greggii_thorns.jpg
Oregano – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oreganojf.JPG
Ginger – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ingwer_2_fcm.jpg
Bell Peppers – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Green-Yellow-Red-Pepper-2009.jpg
Garlic – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GarlicBasket.jpg
Turmeric – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Curcuma_longa_roots.jpg
Panax Ginseng – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Panax_quinquefolius.jpg
Male Anatomy – © fotolia.com/id/55441474 (under license)

6 Simple Dietary Swaps For Natural Detoxification

6 Simple Dietary Swaps For Natural Detoxification infographic © herbs-info.com. lemon water photo © lbordeafeliciea – fotolia.com

The detoxification movement has risen in popularity over the recent years, with “detox” diets and drinks seemingly everywhere. However, how exactly does detoxification work? Does a “detox” meal or flush really provide significant health benefits? One of the methods of detoxification involves the modification of a person’s diet in order to get rid of the toxins that have built up over time. When done correctly, detoxification diets are widely regarded as able to improve your health greatly. [1]

Try swapping the following items out from your diet, including their healthier alternatives – and note the results!

1: Coffee to Water

Making this first switch can be a difficult one. According to John’s Hopkins, coffee – or rather, caffeine – is the “most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world”. Coffee is the biggest culprit when it comes to caffeine intake in our diet but caffeine can also be found in chocolate, tea, and soft drinks (a.k.a. caffeinated beverages). Coffee can cause anxiety, sleep disturbances, and physical symptoms like tremors and tachycardia (fast heartbeat) – a sense of “false energy”. [2]

Instead of coffee, opt to drink water instead! Without enough water, we start to suffer severe electrolyte imbalances and toxin build-up that affects the natural homeostasis among our body systems. Substituting water for coffee and other caffeinated beverages can help the body in its natural detoxification process. [3]

2: Soft drinks and alcohol to Fruit juices

Soft drinks and alcohol contain nothing but empty calories and hyperglycemia-causing sugar. Not only do soft drinks have dangerously high caffeine content, they are also laden with sugar – and not just any sugar. Sugar from colas and other carbonated drinks is artificial sugar, meaning it is manufactured in a lab and is harder to be absorbed by the body. These kinds of drinks increase person’s risk for metabolic disorders like diabetes. Alcohol on the other hand, is one of the leading causes of liver dysfunction – with moderate and high alcohol consumption being linked to an increased risk for liver cancer and eventual death. [4][5]

Fruit and vegetable juices are an excellent drink substitute, being a great source of much-needed vitamins and minerals. Studies have found that fruit juices, specifically 100% fruit juice (not the sugary, artificial kind, but fresh juice) has high nutritional value that can improve cardiovascular health and even help you lose weight. Vegetable juices perform the same way, helping reduce hypertension and assist the body with natural weight loss and detoxification. [6][7]

3: Sugar to Brown rice syrup

Table sugar is not natural and is so ubiquitous that is not often remember that it is infect a highly abnormal food, compared to what our bodies are evolutionarily designed to eat. Naturally occurring sugar comes from fruits and vegetables while your typical table sugar is artificial, manufactured solely to provide sweetness with zero nutritional value. In fact, SSBs or sugar-sweetened beverages have been associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Instead of using table sugar, use brown rice syrup instead! Brown rice syrup has a relatively high glycemic index of 98, meaning it functions like table sugar but because it is naturally occurring, it is readily absorbed by the body instead of contributing to adiposity and weight gain. [8][9][10]

4: Salt to Sea Vegetables

Salt is a leading contributor to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. This is because salt causes water retention in the blood vessels (“where salt goes, water follows”), raising the body’s blood pressure. Hypertension is dangerous because it increases the pressure the heart needs to overcome in order to pump blood to the rest of the body. It can also cause venous and arterial leaks when the pressure tears the delicate tissues of the blood vessels, leading to a stroke or heart attack. [11]

Instead of salt, turn to sea vegetables instead to get your sodium fix. Vegetables like seaweed that come from the sea also have adequate amounts of sodium but their benefits (high vitamin and mineral content) are miles ahead of table salt. Intake of sea vegetables has been linked with a decreased risk for pancreatic cancer, which can be attributed to its high sulfate polysaccharide content (SP). SPs are known be anticoagulant, antiviral, antioxidative, and anticancer — all of which can help fight against chronic diseases and promote detoxification. [12][13]

5: Meat to Whole grains

While completely cutting meat from your life will probably do more harm than food (our body still needs the protein!), it can be good to substitute meat with whole grains several meals a week to detoxify your body. High consumption of meat has been linked with a variety of cancer, namely cancer than affects the colon. [14]

Whole grains are an excellent source of dietary fiber – a great way to cleanse or detoxify the body by regulating bowel movement. Studies have found that dietary fiber is associated with a decreased risk for chronic disease, which can be linked to better protein metabolism (since high protein intake contributes or is associated to cancer). Whole grains have also been linked to a reduction in systemic inflammation (seen in various chronic diseases) and improvement in lipid metabolism through alterations in the gut microorganisms. [15][16]

6: Dairy to Almond and Rice milk

For people who suffer from lactose intolerance (or simply want to substitute dairy products with something healthier), rice and almond milk can be a great alternative. Milk is a good way to get calcium into your diet but it has a rather high saturated fat content. While the SF content of milk still needs to be studied (some studies find SF from milk beneficial), saturated fat has been found to contribute to chronic heart and metabolic diseases. [17]

Instead of milk, why not opt for almond or rice milk instead? Almond milk is a good source of protein and is a natural way to manage lactose-intolerance without compromising on nutritional content. A study has also found that almonds help manage lipid levels and vascular dysfunction, suggesting a protective measure against metabolic and cardiac disease. Rice milk can also be another milk substitute, but one that must be used with caution. Different studies have found that rice milk in the diet of children can cause malnutrition, so substitution should be done cautiously. However, a study on rice milk from Jasmine rice was found to have significant antioxidant capabilities, suggesting that it can be used to fight chronic disease and promote detoxification. [18][19][20] For best results, make your own from organic almonds or rice. See our tutorial here: How To Make Your Own Almond, Nut, Rice and Seed Milks


[1] Cline, J. (2015). Nutritional aspects of detoxification in clinical practice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026145

[2] Johns Hopkins Medicine. Caffeine Dependence. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/research/bpru/docs/caffeine_dependence_fact_sheet.pdf

[3] US Geological Survey. The water in you. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html

[4] Greenwood, D., et. al. (2014). Association between sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24932880

[5] Persson, E., et. al. (2013). Alcohol consumption, folate intake, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver disease mortality. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23307533

[6] Clemens, R., et. al. (2015). Squeezing Fact from Fiction about 100% Fruit Juice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352186/

[7] Shenoy, S., et. al. (2010). Weight loss in individuals with metabolic syndrome given DASH diet counseling when provided a low sodium vegetable juice: a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20178625

[8] Teshima, N., et. al. (2015). Effects of sugar-sweetened beverage intake on the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance: the Mihama diabetes prevention study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25994135

[9] Malik, V. & Hu, F. (2015). Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health: What the Evidence From Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tells Us. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26429086

[10] The University of Sydney. Organic Rice Syrup/Rice Malt Syrup. http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php?num=2648&ak=detail

[11] Cleveland Clinic (2015). If You Have High Blood Pressure, Salt Still Matters. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/06/if-you-have-high-blood-pressure-salt-still-matters/

[12] Kim, S. & Li, Y. (2011). Medicinal benefits of sulfated polysaccharides from sea vegetables. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22054963

[13] Shigihara, M., et. al. (2014). Consumption of fruits, vegetables, and seaweeds (sea vegetables) and pancreatic cancer risk: the Ohsaki Cohort Study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24522236

[14] Steck, S., et. al. (2014). Nucleotide excision repair gene polymorphisms, meat intake and colon cancer risk. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24607854

[15] Ross, A. (2014). The Nutrition Society Summer Meeting 2014, University of Glasgow. 14–17 July 2014. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9871633&fileId=S0029665114001542

[16] Walter, J., et. al. (2013). Holobiont nutrition. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3744518/

[17] Hammad, S., Pu, S. & Jones, P. (2016). Current Evidence Supporting the Link Between Dietary Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26719191

[18] Jamshed, H. & Gilani, A. (2014). Almonds inhibit dyslipidemia and vascular dysfunction in rats through multiple pathways. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25332475

[19] Salpietro, C., et. al. (2005). The almond milk: a new approach to the management of cow-milk allergy/intolerance in infants. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/16172596

[20] Sirirat, D. & Jelena, P. (2010). Bacterial inhibition and antioxidant activity of kefir produced from Thai jasmine rice milk. http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/20113139033.html;jsessionid=811A06009B2E05C9F5F35026A6C68070

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10 Simple Rules For Better Health

10 Simple Rules For Better Health
graphic © herbs-info.com

The mission to stay healthy is a never ending one. There are many external factors that affect our health and personal choices that increase our risk for becoming sick. However, the most important weapon we have against disease is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Incorporate these ten rules into your life and become the healthiest version of yourself!

#1: Less Alcohol, More Tea

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some intake of alcohol isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, heavy or “binge” drinking gives rise to different health risks and problems. Then what is considered as “low risk drinking”?

– For women, low risk drinking is having 3 drinks per day at the most, but not more than 7 drinks in a week.
– For men, low risk drinking is having 4 drinks per day at the most, but not more than 14 drinks in a week.

Numerous studies have also linked alcohol consumption to a variety of health problems, the most notable being liver disease. The liver is responsible for filtering our blood which is why it is the hardest hit when a person drinks too much alcohol. A study published in 2014 that focused on population data over 71 years linked increased alcohol consumption and increased incidence of liver disease. Another study also linked alcohol consumption with an increased risk for heart disease, specifically ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). That study found that moderate to heavy alcohol consumption lead to an increased risk for both stroke and ICH. [1][2]

Instead of alcohol, opt for tea instead! Tea is a great source of antioxidants, especially black and green tea. The antioxidant properties of green tea can be attributed to its high polyphenol content. Antioxidants help fight against a variety of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes to cases of cancer. Tea has also been found to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and neuroprotective abilities which also contribute to the battle against disease. [3][4]

#2: Less Meat, More Vegetables

While meat is an important part of your diet because of its protein content, the intake of red meat has been associated with several negative health risks. According to Carvalho, et. al. in 2015, high meat intake a predisposes a person to cardiovascular disease and cancer –caused by an increase in oxidative stress in the body. Other studies linked red and processed meat intake with an increased risk of breast and colon cancer. [5][6][7]

The US Department of Agriculture encourages people to eat at least two to three cups of vegetables in a day. This is not without merit, as vegetable intake has been associated with numerous positive health benefits rooted primarily in risk reduction for disease. High vegetable intake improves the body’s metabolism and reduces cholesterol levels, inflammation, oxidative stress, and adhesion. This relates primarily to the claims that eating vegetables can prevent heart disease, hypertension, certain cancers, and metabolic disorders like diabetes. [8][9]

#3: Less Salt, More Vinegar

Salt is a big no-no for people suffering from heart disease, kidney disease, and hypertension. The primary component of table salt is sodium, an electrolyte that causes drastic increases in blood pressure in the body. This because sodium causes a build-up of fluid in our blood vessels, causing high blood pressure or hypertension. This can cause severe damage to the heart and kidneys, as fluid overload and hypertension causes damage to delicate blood vessels in the kidneys and heart. [10][11]

Instead of using salt to flavor your food, opt for a healthier option instead – vinegar. Vinegar is a natural antibiotic and antioxidant, currently popular as a “morning cleanse” using apple cider vinegar. Studies on vinegar have found that it is able to reduce post-prandial glucose levels by improving the body’s insulin response. This suggests vinegar can play a big role in regulating the body’s metabolism and reducing the risk for diabetes. [12][13]

#4: Less Sugar, More Fruit

With everything being processed in today’s food industry, it has become difficult to find food that is truly sugar-free. Sugar content found in most food products are not naturally-occurring sugar (such as those found in fruits) but industrially manufactured sweeteners. You can find this kind of sugar in SSBs – or sugar-sweetened beverage. SSBs have been directly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. [14]

To fulfill your body’s need for sugar, fruit is a better option! Because the sugar content of fruits is naturally occurring, it is highly bioavailable. Unlike the glucose from SSBs and junk food which builds up as fat, sugar from fruits is used readily by the body. A study in 2015 has found that fruit intake is linked with a decreased risk for heart disease. The USDA recommends eating at least 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruits per day. [15][16]

#5: Less Eating, More Chewing

Overeating contributes to a slew of problems, unhealthy weight gain being one of them. Even after a full meal, people are often struck by hunger, which leads to snacking, and intake of excessive calories. A nice tip to remember to avoid this is so chew your food thoroughly. This helps reduce food intake, makes you feel fuller, and allows your body to digest food better – end result: reduced risk for weight gain. [17]

#6: Less Words, More Action

Promises and plans to exercise remain just like that – as promises and plans – without any actual work done. So talk less and exercise more! Exercise is a great way to boost your heart health. The cardiovascular benefits of exercise focus on improving your heart’s stamina and the blood flow through your body’s vessels, allowing better cellular and tissue oxygenation. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week – that’s just half an hour each day for five days! [18][19]

#7: Less Greed, More Giving

When we talk about health, we always think of its physical component and forget about emotional and mental well-being. Sharing your blessings is a great way to socialize and reach out to other people. Not only are you helping others but you are also helping yourself. In older adults, social interaction is now actually regarded as a way to diminish risk of mental health issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s. [20]

#8: Less Worry, More Sleep

Avoiding stress and quality sleep is an important part in keeping healthy. Stress and sleep deprivation has been linked to a weak immune system, which increases your risk for disease. A study found that exposure to stressful situations and sleep deprivation weakens the body’s immune response and therefore the ability to protect itself from disease. [21]

#9: Less Driving, More Walking

Save the earth (and your health!) by opting to walk instead of driving. You can even add this to your total exercise minutes at the end of the week, since walking is considered a form of cardiovascular exercise. Walk to work or the supermarket and get your heart pumping! You will notice better stamina, energy levels, and even weight loss with regular exercise.

#10: Less Anger, More Laughter

Happiness is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Anger is a deadly emotion and reduces your quality of life by causing anxiety and even depression. Studies have found that this unhealthy emotion even has effects on physical health, causing problems with metabolism and cardiovascular function. This suggests that prolonged feelings of anger can lead to a metabolic syndrome or a heart problem. Perform calming exercises or work off some steam through exercise to get your anger under control.


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