Chapter Four Living an Immune Balancing Lifestyle Taking a daily dose of phytosterols—and having some immune supporting herbs and adaptogens on hand when you need them—can help you sidestep many of the bacteria and viruses you’re exposed to every day and keep you resilient to the stressors of everyday living. Proactively maintaining your defenses with an arsenal of healthy lifestyle habits can help you get the upper hand no matter what happens to be going around. A well-balanced immune system can also guard against chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Here are a few important lifestyle habits that can help turn your body into a pathogen-fighting fortress, starting today. The Food Factor Your immune system functions best when it’s well nourished. Studies show that a diet filled with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetabls, lean protein, modest amounts whole, fiber-rich grains, and healthy fats can help ward off both everyday ailments and more serious conditions. Yet, as mentioned earlier, the typical American diet is often deficient in the very nutrients it needs to function at its best. Swapping out unhealthy food choices for more nutritious foods can enhance a sluggish immune system. The number one trigger for inflammation signaling from your diet is post-meal hyperglycemia, so stay away from concentrated juices and sodas. It’s also important to pay attention to portion sizes for carbohydrates from grains, even if they are from whole grains. One of the best places to start is in your local grocer’s produce section. Loaded with phytonutrients— including plant sterols and sterolins—fruits and vegetables are essential for immune health. Fruits and vegetables are so important for preventing chronic disease that the Centers for Disease Control recommend eating 9 to 13 servings each day. A serving is considered one-half cup cooked or one cup raw. Healthy fats—especially cold-pressed organic plant oils—are another rich source of dietary phytosterols and are essential for both a healthy body and brain. One immune-boosting macronutrient that’s often overlooked is protein. Lean protein provides the amino acids your immune system needs to function properly. One convenient way to increase the amount of proteinin your diet is by blending up a whey protein smoothie. Whey is high in lactoferrin—a protein in milk that regulates how bone marrow functions, activates NK cells, and enhances the body’s antibody response. Whey also keeps the inflammatory response within healthy levels. If you are intolerant or allergic to milk, then look to other protein powder sources like pea, rice, or egg.