Every system has a way of defending itself against its enemies. For a computer system, it is an antivirus or passwords; countries have their military and navy as their defense; the body has the immune system.
If you are a lover of movies like myself, you must have come across one where a country is facing a threat from another.
In those times, the armed forces of the country are deployed to defend it from this threat. For our body, those armed forces are known as the immune system, and it’s “members” are:
- White blood cells
- Complement systems
- The spleen
- The thymus
- The bone marrow
- The lymphatic system
One of the beautiful things about our immune system is that it doesn’t just fight off the threats but also keeps records of them in the B- and T- lymphocytes known as the memory cells. This enables it to react faster if these microbes come into our bodies again.
It sounds like a lot of work for this system, right? It is the reason we need to take great care of it by performing activities that boost it.
The types of Immune System
Before we get to how we can boost our immune system, we need to understand that there are three types of immunity we can posses.
The innate immunity is a natural immunity we all are born with. This enables the immune system to recognize new organisms in the body and act if they are dangerous to us.
As earlier said, our immune system keeps records of diseases. The adaptive immunity is developed during this period. It is also produced during immunization. How so?
Immunization involves injecting us with a vaccine, that is a treated amount of some virus or toxins, the body, in turn, develops antibodies to it.
This comes into play when we are exposed to the same virus or toxins because the body recognizes it quickly and knows how to attack it effectively.
This is said to be a temporary immunity as it lasts for a short time. An example is the antibodies that are passed from mother to child during breastfeeding.
How to Strengthen our Immune System
Now that we have familiarized ourselves with that let’s move to how we can help our immunity by strengthening it.
To give our immune system a better chance of fighting off illnesses, it is essential to watch our stress levels. During stress, hormones are released, which suppresses the effectiveness of the immune system. As individuals, we have different things that make us stressed. Identifying and reducing those activities will help build our immunity.
Get Enough Sleep:
Fighting the urge to stay up late watching our favorite series or surfing through the internet might be difficult but is necessary as staying up late and depriving ourselves of sufficient sleep weakens our immune system. Lack of sleep can also cause sleeping paralysis
The amount of sleep needed by the body varies from persons to persons, but it is said that most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep.
While we are sleeping, our body produces proteins called cytokines, which help fight infection, thereby strengthening our immunity.
The intake of healthy foods cannot be overemphasized. Diets that improve immunity mostly contain certain nutrients like vitamins B6, C, and E; zinc, iron, folic acid, and copper.
These nutrients can be found in citrus fruits, yogurt, pawpaw, poultry, shellfish. Also, garlic, ginger, lemon, and honey possess antioxidants and antibacterial that fights free radicals, boosting the immune system.
Reduction in the intake of fats, sugar, and processed foods should be put into consideration.
It has been proven that taking green, black, and peppermint tea helps our immune system as they are excellent sources of antioxidants and may have cancer-fighting properties.
Exercise as a lifestyle:
Exercise improves our blood circulation, regulates heart and lung health, and relieves stress. Healthy hearts and lungs are less susceptible to respiratory illnesses and have better chances of survival from them.
Some of these exercises are: talking a walk, yoga, cycling, swimming, push-ups, and sit-ups. As great as exercises are for our body, we must do it in moderation just like every other activity we indulge it. This is because heavy exercises can cause harm to us. Be moderate!
Supplements help too:
Unlike foods, nutrients in supplements are quantifiable. We can calculate our daily intake of vitamins and minerals if we use supplements. However, should not replace a healthy lifestyle as we are at fewer risks of taking excess while using natural sources.
It is necessary to speak with your health care professional on what supplements to take as some are not appropriate for people with certain health conditions.
Some of the supplements that keep our immune system healthy are:
This is probably the most popular of all supplements taken to fight infections. Vitamin C is needed for cellular death, clearing out old cells, and replacing them with new ones, keeping your immune system healthy. Due to its nature as a powerful antioxidant, it also reduces oxidative stress.
Mild zinc deficiency may cause immune dysfunction. Zinc aids immune cell development and can protect against the common cold.
important as zinc is in the body, excess intake affects corner absorption, increasing the risk of infection.
Others include elderberry, vitamin D, B complex vitamins, medicinal mushrooms.
Water helps our body get rid of toxins naturally while producing lymph, a carrier of the white blood cells, and other immune system cells. Other ways to stay hydrated is by incorporating more hydrating foods, such as cucumbers, celery, or watermelon in our diets.
Being happy can be described as having positive well-being. Happy people are more likely to lead healthier lifestyles.
We can have a little more fun while taking care of your immune system by laughing and keeping a generally positive attitude.
The saying laughing is the best medicine has some truths in it as it helps not just to promote sleep but also to lower our stress levels.
Though it is not entirely understood how happiness boosts our immune system, we can all attest to the fact that having a sound mind always has its positive effects on the body.