Every human being is subject to illness and other disease-causing germs. Fortunately, we all have a system that protects us against such attacks, the immune system. In this article, you will be able to know more about your immune system, how it works, and ways to boost your immunity.
The ultimate goal of every human being is to lead a healthy life. Taking good care of your body is very important. The body is prone to attacks and needs to battle or fight back. Your immune system is responsible for the well-being of your body. It defends you against disease-causing microorganisms. It might be confusing to understand the whole idea of how your immune system functions and fights diseases. However, it is important to boost your immune system so that it can be possible to fight against diseases.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that protect the body against diseases and infections. According to White (2022), the immune system is complex. There is a combination of processes from several body elements working together to enhance the system's overall performance. Moreover, it involves multiple parts working together. The immune system can either be innate (you are born with it) or acquired (you acquire it as you go through life). The major parts of the immune system include white blood cells, bone marrow, lymph nodes, tonsils and adenoids, thymus, spleen, skin, mucous membranes, and stomach.
How Does It Work?
The immune system comprises different organs, cells, and proteins. It is hard to notice your immune system, especially if it's functioning correctly. However, once you start being weak and falling sick, you will probably know that your immune system has failed or is not working properly. Without your immune system, fighting harmful substances, germs, and viruses that get into your body could be difficult. Therefore the immune system is mainly tasked with recognizing foreign and harmful substances in the body and fighting them. According to Corthay (2014), our immune system protects us against pathogens and also seems to be involved in cancer control. Symptoms resulting from sickness are not only a sign that you have a virus or an infection but also a sign that your body is fighting against the disease. Immune responses trigger these symptoms.
Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Drinking a Lot of Water
When you drink a lot of water, your body gets sufficient hydration. Likewise, many toxins are flushed off by drinking plenty of water. Drinking water also helps circulate oxygen in your body cells, leading to the normal functioning of various systems in the body.
Regular exercises reduce stress and keep you in a good mood. According to Ibenemeet al. (2019), exercises reduce inflammation, help you sleep better, reduce the risks of diabetes and heart diseases, increase body temperature, stimulate cellular immunity, and decrease depression and other mental conditions.
Get Sufficient Sleep
For a healthy lifestyle, a person needs a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. When you don't sleep enough, the circulation of white blood cells reduces, making the body too weak to sustain attacks from foreign substances. Good sleep also makes you feel relaxed and refreshed. However, certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia, may interfere with the normal functioning of the immune system.
Hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and general body hygiene can help you boost your immune system and protect your body against illness. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means paying attention to your hygiene and keeping your home clean. For example, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water helps you avoid viruses and bacteria.
Keep a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet to ensure enough nutrients in the body is necessary for body cells to function correctly. Such foods associated with better health include vegetables and fruits. You should also avoid highly processed foods with many fats and calories. This kind of food may increase inflammation in the body, making it difficult to fight diseases.
Bourassa et al. (2016) suggested that nutritious foods enhance your immune system. The following are some of the foods you need to eat to boost your immune system:
Garlic has allicin (a chemical compound found in veggies like onions and leeks) which contains beneficial levels of sulfur, arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and selenium. One study was conducted on 146 volunteers who randomly received a placebo and an allicin-containing garlic supplement. A five-point scale was used to assess their health and record any cold infections and symptoms daily. The study showed that daily consumption of garlic increased the subject's resistance to common colds by two-thirds and a shorter duration of symptoms for those colds.
Beef contains the mineral zinc, which impairs the overall immune function and resistance to infection. Zinc plays an important role in preventing childhood infectious diseases. Two studies showed that zinc supplementation decreased child mortality by more than 50%.
Tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that enhances the function of T-cells. T-cells are the body's first line of defense against the microbes that cause sickness. A study conducted at Harvard showed that there was a higher production of antibacterial proteins in tea drinkers than in non-tea drinkers. Three cups of black or green tea daily are recommended for optimum benefits.
Raw Dairy Products and Probiotics
Raw milk contains several components that destroy pathogens and keep the immune system strong. Cultured dairy such as yogurt also increases the probiotic goodness, vitamins, and enzymes. This enables your body to keep off unwanted bacteria.
Countries like Europe have been using mushrooms as medicine. There were claims that mushroom was used to treat snake bites, tuberculosis, hepatitis, poisoning, influenza, debility, and rheumatoid arthritis. One common thing with all these conditions is that they are either caused by a failed immune system or can be improved by an active immune system. Mushroom is believed to contain compounds like polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols, and triterpenoids, which increase the production of white blood cells. White blood cells protect you against diseases.
Organic Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables help your immune system with vitamins C and antioxidants. Going for organic fruits and vegetables will be beneficial as your immune system would not be forced to fend off toxic additions like pesticides
Your immune system, just like any other part of your body, needs care and nourishment. To keep your immune system healthy, you should; avoid smoking, maintain a healthy body weight, eat a balanced diet, avoid excessive alcohol, avoid stress, do regular exercises, and ensure you get enough sleep. A healthy immune system can protect you against infections and other disease-causing germs like viruses and cancer.
Bourassa, M. W., Alim, I., Bultman, S. J., & Ratan, R. R. (2016). Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: can a high fiber diet improve brain health?. Neuroscience letters, 625, 56-63.
Corthay, A. (2014). Does the immune system naturally protect against cancer?. Frontiers in immunology, 5, 197.
Ibeneme, S. C., Omeje, C., Myezwa, H., Ezeofor, S. N., Anieto, E. M., Irem, F., ... & Ibeneme, G. C. (2019). Effects of physical exercises on inflammatory biomarkers and cardiopulmonary function in patients living with HIV: a systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC infectious diseases, 19(1), 1-22.
White, E. (2022). How to Bolster Your Immune System: The Ultimate Guide.