Strengthen the immune system with chocolate, sports, and smoothies

Dr. Alois Teuber swears by a small smoothie with pineapple, banana, spinach, and stinging nettle every day in order to stay fit and healthy. This orthopedist is an internationally-renowned sports physician and the official team doctor of famous German sports teams Fortuna Düsseldorf (soccer) and the Düsseldorfer Eishockey Team DEG (ice hockey), and belongs to countless other sports clubs. His medical practice is in Meerbusch, a suburb just northwest of Düsseldorf, Germany. We recently led an interview with Dr. Teuber about his opinion on the best ways to strengthen the immune system, which you can see below.

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Lykon: In our research we’ve stumbled across a variety of foods that could have a particularly strong effect in boosting the immune system, with beer and steak standing as the top two foods in this regard. Could you maybe say why that might be?

Dr. Teuber: There is definitely something to those two, but it’s not the entire truth. Steak contains high-quality proteins and other nutrients such as iron, zinc, and some B vitamins, all of which are good for the immune system. Steak also has low amounts of fat. Beer consists of hops, malt, and yeast, all of which are very healthy. Only the alcohol it contains would tend to weaken the immune system, which is why it goes without saying that you should avoid overconsumption of, say, 30+ beers.

Lykon: Which foods should we focus on if we want to give ourselves an immune system boost, if steak and beer aren’t an option every day?

Dr. Teuber: Go for nuts and chocolate.

Lykon: That sounds perfect!

Dr. Teuber: Great, isn’t it? Some other great foods include ginger, pomegranate, cabbage, spinach, and stinging nettle. My wife often likes to send me out to gather wild stinging nettle, which you have to wash thoroughly and then can toss into the blender. It really makes for wonderful smoothies. Generally speaking, the more colorful and fresher it is, the better.

Lykon: What kind of effect do these foods have on our bodies?

Dr. Teuber: Let’s take vitamins such as vitamin A, C, and E as an example. These vitamins are able to neutralize so-called free radicals, which are metabolic products that come about in cells and have the potential to cause what’s known oxidative stress to them. Free radicals are generally bad for healthy cells, and tend to inhibit cellular metabolism.

Lykon: That means that antioxidants work to combat those stress inducers!

Dr. Teuber: Precisely – vitamins A, C, and E all belong to the group of antioxidants.

Lykon: Are there any foods or nutrients that can actually weaken the immune system?

Dr. Teuber: Yes, definitely. Practicing a one-sided diet is bad for the immune system. Sugars and carbohydrates tend to have a big influence on the digestive system, with the bacteria in intestinal flora playing an enormously important role in immune defense. By consuming a lot of sugar, the ‘bad’ bacteria multiply and the ‘good’ bacteria get suppressed. Also, the large majority of foods you find in the low-price or discount segment are generally not that good. Additives in processed and ready-made foods send off alarms in our immune systems, making them less able to keep harmful viruses and bacteria in check.

*Dr. Alois Teuber is a passionate sportsman. He plays tennis and golf and enjoys skiing and going to the gym. He was formerly also a long-time amateur boxer and had contacts throughout the world of professional boxing. That’s how he eventually became the trusted doctor for famous professional boxers Henry Maske, Axel Schulz, Daisy Lang, and Sven Ottke. *

Lykon: Time and time again it is said that sports can be good for the immune system. Why is that the case?

Dr. Teuber: The human body gets an improved supply of blood when physical activity occurs. This also allows immune defense cells to come into more areas of the body. Minimal injuries occur from doing sports, ones that are often not bad at all, yet our bodies will still work to fix them. This reparative function will improve in those who do sports more often.

Lykon: Dr. Teuber, we thank you again for your time and for this interview!