How to Boost Your Immune System
The immune system is the body’s line of defense against viruses and other microbes; its job is to keep you healthy. You need this system to operate at its best to avoid sick days. Here you’ll find out how to boost your immune system so you can stay as healthy as possible.
What Is the Immune System?
The purpose of the immune system is to fight infection. Several organs, cells and chemicals work within this system to protect your body from microbes and cell changes that can make you sick. Antigens molecules have surface features that activate your immune system and drive immune response. Your body recognizes familiar antigens or germs that it has come across before and knows how to remove them from the body and actively fight infection.
There are main parts of the immune system:
- Antibodies. These Y-shaped proteins help fight against microbes and any toxins they produce. Microbes have surface antigens, which antibodies can identify and work with other cells, proteins and chemicals to attack the foreign substance.
- Bone marrow. The tissue inside cells, bone marrow, produces three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
- Complement system. This system is made up of proteins that support the work done by the antibodies.
- Lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is comprised of lymph nodes, lymph vessels and white blood cells. Their job is to manage fluid levels, absorb some of the fats in our diet from the intestine and react to bacteria, cells, or cell products that can affect your health if they are not dealt with.
- Spleen. This organ does two jobs for the immune system. It filters the blood to remove both microbes and old or damaged red blood cells. It also creates antibodies and lymphocytes that help fight off microbe invaders.
- Thymus. A gland that filters and monitors blood content, the thymus is also responsible for producing white blood cells.
- White blood cells. White blood cells are found in the blood and tissues, and attack any bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi they come across.
Why Is the Immune System Important?
An immune system guards our body against invading microbes and harmful cell changes that occur within the body. The primary purpose of the immune system is to keep our bodies healthy. When we get sick, the immune system uses special blood cells, referred to as memory cells, to record every microbe it comes across and removes from the body. That way, if we get the same microbe again, the immune system recognizes and quickly destroys the microbe.
What Happens When Your Immune System Isn’t Working Efficiently?
If your immune system isn’t operating optimally, it can weaken and be unable to fight off some aggressive microbes or germs you haven’t defeated before, meaning you’re more vulnerable to illness.
Tips to Boost Your Immune System
There are some things you can do to try and strengthen your immune system, and we have a helpful list curated for you.
1. Take Vitamins
See your doctor and they will help determine if you need a vitamin supplement and how much you should take. Vitamin D is important for immune system health and vitamin C can help decrease the risk of the common cold (and it’s also a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory). Other vitamins that can benefit your immunity include vitamin A, zinc and selenium.
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2. Get Immunized
A small amount of a specially treated virus gets injected into the skin when you’re healthy to replicate the body’s natural immune response. The amount of the virus is enough for your body to create antibodies to it; if you are exposed to the virus in the future, your body’s memory cells will identify and attack the microbe successfully.
3. Clean Up Your Diet
Switching to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed foods and foods with antioxidants can help keep you healthy. Research which foods are great for immune system health, such as mushrooms (which are a source of vitamin D and can boost the activity of white blood cells) and crushed garlic (which releases a compound that fights harmful microbes).
4. Take Care of Your Gut Health
A majority of your immune cells are found in the gastrointestinal tract. Taking care of your gut with a daily probiotic and addressing dietary or digestive concerns may help ensure that your gut bacteria are taken care of.
Exercise is an important component of overall health. Studies suggest that doing cardio five days a week for at least 30 minutes a day helps the immune system stay fit by circulating the blood and improving the flow of lymphatic fluid.
6. Get Enough Sleep
The more quality sleep we get, the more likely we are to avoid the inflammation and maintain the ability to fight infection properly. Make sure you’re getting a minimum of seven hours of quality sleep each night.
7. Reduce Stress
Chronic stress can decrease your immune cell supply and weaken the body’s defenses. Address your stress or develop good coping mechanisms with exercise, mindfulness training, talking with a professional, or other activities.
8. Balance Your Hormones
If hormones are a concern, see your doctor to check your hormone levels. Those with elevated estrogen levels are at risk for autoimmune issues.
9. Wash Your Hands
Everything you touch puts you at risk of picking up germs. Make sure you’re washing or sanitizing your hands often to avoid unnecessary microbes from entering the body.
10. Tweak Your Lifestyle Habits
Along with getting more exercise and updating your diet, other things you can do include giving up unhealthy behaviors. Stop smoking and limit your alcohol consumption.
11. Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s not just about exercise; the weight you carry impacts your health too. Try to aim for a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or lower.
12. Immunoglobulin Therapy
If you’re unable to make enough antibodies on your own or have other issues with your antibodies, your doctor may prescribe immunoglobulin therapy.
Try some of these immune-boosting tips to benefit your health. Taking care of your immune system today gives you a better chance of avoiding illness in the future.