The human immune system is a dynamic and complicated system with a growing amount of emerging research. It is responsible for protection from viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents that could otherwise harm overall health and wellness. Learn more about ways to naturally boost the immune system.
What Is The Immune System?
Immunity is a defense mechanism of the body to resist infection and disease. It is the most complex system of the body systems. It comprises different types of organs, tissues, and chemicals spread over the entire body, which work together in various ways to keep the body functioning properly, fight harmful organisms and toxins, and prevent them from entering the body. The better the immune system is working, the less chances you will get infected with diseases.
Why Is The Immune System Important?
The immune system is an essential component of the body. The main purpose is to maintain health by protecting the body from bacteria and viruses. A healthy immune system protects us from harmful pathogens, enables our bodies to fight off diseases, and creates antibodies to fight infections. When this system is not functioning optimally, the body may become susceptible to infections or even disease.
How Does the Immune System Work?
The immune system consists of three major components: B lymphocytes, T cells, and natural killer (NK) cells. These three types of cells interact with each other and play an essential role in our body's defense against infection or any potential threat to health. When an infection occurs, white blood cells known as macrophages find infected tissue or other debris left behind by dead or dying pathogens (e.g., bacteria, fungi). They surround the debris and begin to engulf it. Macrophages are very good at recognizing foreign material in the body, so they alert other cells of the immune system when they find something suspicious. Once the cells are alerted by macrophages that there is something abnormal in the body, they will attack in order to destroy or remove the pathogens from our bodies.
- B Lymphocytes are also known as B cells. They produce antibodies that help the body fight off infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. The antibodies are made in response to foreign antigens that enter the body through wounds or other means.
- T cells are white blood cells that destroy viruses, bacteria, and cancerous tissue while protecting our bodies from infection.
- Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of lymphocyte known as killer cells. They kill infected or malignant tissues by attacking them directly using cytotoxic granules containing perforins and lytic enzymes, which help cause damage to cells.
Ways To Strengthen The Immune System
The immune system isn’t a single unit; it’s a network of several parts. There has been growing interest and research in how people can boost or strengthen their immune system. Below are a few ways to strengthen the immune system.
Maintain a Healthy diet: A healthy and varied diet is one key to strengthening the immune system. The food we eat is very important for our overall health and well-being. Ensuring a diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and clean proteins can be a good start to balanced nutrition rich with antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. A balanced diet with enough nutrients will nourish the immune units and support the cells from free radicals.
Exercise Daily: An active lifestyle has a positive effect on our mental and physical health. Experts recommend exercising at least 150 minutes per week, 30 minutes per day five days a week, or a few minutes every day. Exercise supports blood circulation, oxygen flow, heart rate, blood pressure, and bone strength.
Support Mental Health: Growing research shows a strong connection between gut health, brain health, and immune health. With 90% of the body’s neurotransmitters produced and managed in the gut, ensuring a healthy diet with probiotics, time to meditate. Further, when the body is trying to fight off an infection, almost all of the energy goes toward healing – leaving very little resources for anything else, contributing to feelings of low energy, depression and anxiety. The reason behind this can be attributed to the communication between immune cells and brain cells. The signals that are transmitted between the two can affect general cognition and brain responses that are highly related to depression and pain. When the immune system is affected, the signals that get transmitted are affected as well, producing those familiar feelings of depression and low mood.
Give Up Bad habits: Stop little sleep or smoking and drinking alcohol. Sleep provides the body time to heal while smoking negatively affects the immune system, increases the risk of lung cancer and many other respiratory diseases. Alcohol can also play an important role in supporting the immune system as alcohol can damage liver cells and challenge good digestion.
Practice Good Habits: Practice good habits to support in strengthening the immune system.
Drink water: A healthy body needs lots of water to maintain a proper balance in the bodily fluids to fight off infection. Water hydrates the body and keeps the metabolism steady. After having a long, tiring day, drinking water can boost energy levels. Water is essential for our overall body and brain health.
Spend quality time: Spending time with family and friends, playing with pets, or with hobbies can help you stay physically and mentally active. Quality time can support the body in properly handling stress.
Hygiene: Hygiene can support a healthy immune system. Taking care of personal hygiene like hand washing or teeth brushing and flossing prevents bacteria from entering our stomach and reduces infections and other ailments. An increase of bad bacteria in the gut can hurt brain and immune health.
Support The Immune System With Supplements
Supplements can help us in improving our immune system. Further, supplements can fill any gaps in the diet and load the body with vitamins and minerals. While it is usually best to get nutrients naturally from food, it can be difficult to get adequate vitamins and minerals due to lifestyle and food quality. Some of the supplements that are effective in improving immunity include:
Vitamin C - Vitamin C helps support the immune system by helping to make white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting infections and disease. Vitamin C is a known antioxidant, meaning it protects against cell damage caused by free radicals. A lack of Vitamin C may weaken the immune system making you more susceptible to infections.
Vitamin D3 - Vitamin D3 is an essential nutrient. It supports the body by producing white blood cells and supports the growth of new bone tissue. Vitamin D3 fights infection and disease and also protects against free radicals, which can damage cell membranes.
Omega 3 fatty acids - Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that promote the production of white blood cells and maintain the heart, brain, and other organs in the body.
Probiotics - Probiotics are live bacteria that support the immune system. Probiotics provide a healthy balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract, important for maintaining a healthy immune system. The best probiotic supplements contain specific strains of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, and other types of lactic acid-producing bacterial cultures.
The immune system is the body's defense mechanism against foreign invaders. To maintain a healthy immune system, you need to eat well, exercise regularly, give up smoking or vaping, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Additionally, consider natural supplements such as probiotics, omega-3s, vitamin-C, or vitamin-D3 to boost the immune system. Before taking any supplement, consult with a medical professional.