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les, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and raw grass fed yogurt, but make sure you watch out for added sugar in most commercial varieties. The fact that including probiotics in


your diet has been shown to reduce inci- dences of psoriasis, colitis, allergies and many other diseases and conditions is a testament to their effectiveness in protect- ing your immune system. In addition, pregnant women who take probiotics help reduce their child’s risk of developing al- lergies.


Fiber to Optimize Digestion and ‘Up’ Your Immunity Not only does fiber help balance your gut microbiome, it, too, helps improve your immune system, as resistant starches act as prebiotics to feed healthy bacteria in your gut. As a result, it promotes bowel movements and keeps waste moving smoothly through your colon, while at the same time benefiting your heart health and controlling your blood sugar. There are two types of fiber: soluble,


which easily dissolves in water and be- comes gel-like, and insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve but stays basically intact as it moves through your colon; both types are important for digestion. Eating a fiber-rich diet, which in turn


may improve the microbial diversity in your gut, may be linked to better respons- es during immunotherapy cancer treat- ment. In fact, your gut microbiome more directly influences your health and disease than previously thought. The fact is, your


diet can make or break not just the eco- system in which your gut bacteria reside, but your mental health as well. And it’s not just the food you eat but all kinds of other factors, including the chemicals and pollution you’re exposed to, and all of it can alter the composition of gut bacteria and thereby influence your immune system health. As the Belfast Telegraph notes, “Want to avoid winter flu? Start eating with your gut in mind. Studies have found that having a healthy microbiome is important in fostering a strong immune system and keeping us healthy.”


Getting Your Z’s: Not Optional for Opti- mal Immunity Sleep is something that kids may resist,


but as adults start the “adulting” that comes with jobs, growing families and paying the mortgage, sleep is something that can all too often go by the wayside. Studies show that not getting the sleep you need — for most people eight hours is the minimum for functioning at your best — can com- promise your health in ways you may not have considered. In fact, several nights in a row with less than restful, adequate sleep puts your body at greater risk for illness. Some of the ways lack of sleep manifests itself in dis- ease include:


• Dementia, including Alzheimer’s dis- ease


• Diabetes, which is true even for chil-


dren


• Increased cardiovascular disease, es- pecially for African-Americans


• Higher incidence of depression and anxiety


• Increased risk of obesity


Another study notes that cutting just one hour of sleep a night increases the expression of genes associated with in- flammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress. Consistently sleep- ing less than six hours a night increases your risk for numerous psychological and physical effects. The upshot is, lack of sleep quickly decreases your immune function, leaving your system wide-open for envi- ronmental influences, including viruses like colds and flu, that you would feel much better off if you avoided.


Sugar: Just As Bad for You Now as It Ever Was


If you were looking for a food to eat


that would compromise your health in numerous ways and absolutely ruin your health, sugar in its many forms — and there are several, thanks to ever-changing food manufacturing gimmicks and money- making strategies — would win the prize. Not only is sugar identified as a carcino- gen, it’s also contributing to the ever-in- creasing rates of chronic disease in the U.S. and throughout the world. In the last century, sugar has become


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