Immune System: Overview and Tips to Boost It

immune system

Do you know that the Immune System is responsible for your survival?

The immune system helps your body fight off attacks from foreign particles like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more.

It is your immune system that keeps your health as you age and undergo different changes.

This system consists of a vast network of cells and tissues that are constantly looking out for invaders and once they spot the enemy they mount a complex attack.

The immune system is present throughout the body and involves different cells, organs, proteins, and tissues.

Moreover, it can distinguish your tissue from foreign tissue, or self from nonself.

Additionally, your immune system also recognizes and clears away dead and faulty cells.

Thus, when your immune system encounters any pathogen, it mounts an immune response.

Keep on reading to learn more about your immune system and how you can boost it.

Immune System and White Blood Cells

White blood cells or leukocytes circuit in your body through blood vessels and the lymphatic system that is parallel to the veins and arteries.

Moreover, your white blood cells are on a constant patrol and looking for pathogens.

When they find a target, they begin to multiply and send signals out to other cells to do the same.

The White blood cells in your body are stored in different places in the body and are referred to as lymphoid organs.

These are:

Thymus: A gland between the lungs and just below your neck.

Bone Marrow: It is found in the center of your bones and also produces red blood cells.

immune system5Spleen: An organ that filters blood and is found in the upper left of your abdomen.

Lymph nodes: Small glands that are present throughout your body and are linked to the lymphatic system.

There are two main types of leukocyte:

  • Phagocytes: These cells surround and absorb pathogens and break them down and they are of the following types: neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, and mast cells.
  • Lymphocytes: Lymphocytes help your body to remember previous invaders and recognize them if they attack again. Some of these stay in the bone marrow and develop into B lymphocytes or B cells and others head to the thymus and become T lymphocytes or T cells.

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How Your Immune System Works?

Your immune system has the ability to tell self from nonself and it does so by detecting problems that are found on the surface of all cells.

Moreover, it learns to ignore its own or self-proteins at an early age.

An Antigen is a substance that can spark an immune response.

In most cases, an antigen can be a bacterium, fungus, virus, toxin, or a foreign body.

However, it can also be your own cells that might be faulty or dead. Initially, a range of cell types works together to recognize the antigen as an invader.

The role of B Lymphocytes

After this spot an antigen, they begin to secrete antibodies that are special proteins that lock on to specific antigens.

Each B cell makes one specific antibody. For example, one might make an antibody against a bacteria that cause pneumonia and another might recognize the common cold virus.

Antibodies are a part of a larger family of chemicals: Immunoglobulins which play a number of roles in the immune response. These are:

  • Immunoglobulin G, IgG,
  • IgM
  • IgA
  • IgE
  • IgD

Antibodies lock onto the antigen, however, they do not kill it, They only mark it for death. The killing job is for cells: Phagocytes.

boost your system 1The role of T Lymphocytes

The following are the different types of T lymphocytes:

Helper T cells, Th Cell: These coordinate immune response and some also communicate with other cells.

Some stimulate B cells to produce more antibodies and others attract T cells or cell-eating phagocytes.

Killer T cell, Cytotoxic T lymphocytes: These cells attack other cells and are particularly useful for fighting viruses.

Moreover, they work by recognizing small parts of the virus on the outside of infected cells and destroying them.

Now let’s learn how you can boost your immune system.

1# Moderate Exercises

Although intense exercise for long periods of time can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise on the other hand can give it a boost.

Studies show that even a single session of moderate exercise can help to boost the effectiveness of vaccines in individuals who have compromised immune systems.

immune system 1Moreover, regular moderate exercise can also help to reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly.

Brish walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking are examples of moderate exercise.

Thus, you can aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

2# Hydration

Drinking enough water or hydration does not necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, however, prevents dehydration that is important to your overall health.

Due to dehydration, you can experience headaches and it can also hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function.

These complications can increase your respectability to illness.

In order to prevent dehydration, you should drink enough water to make your urine pale.

Moreover, it is recommended because it is free of calories, additives, and sugar.

hydrateWhile tea and juices are also hydrating, it is best to limit your intake of fruit juices and sweetened tea as they are high in sugar content.

As a general guideline, drink water when you are thirsty and stop when you are no longer thirsty.

You may also need to drink more fluids if you exercise intensely, work outside, or live in a hot climate.

An important thing to note is that older adults often begin to lose the urge to drink as their bodies do not signal thirst adequately.

They need to drink regularly even if they do not feel thirsty.

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3# Manage your Stress Levels

One of the key factors to make sure your immune system is healthy is to manage and relieve stress and anxiety.

Moreover, prolonged psychological stress and suppress the immune response in your child.

reduce stressCertain activities you can do to manage your stress are:

  • meditation
  • exercise
  •  jogging
  • yoga
  • mindfulness practices

You can also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist whether virtually or in person.

4# Say No to Added Sugar

Emerging research suggests that added sugar and refined carbs can contribute disproportionality to overweight and obesity.

Moreover, it can also increase your risk of getting sick.

An observational study suggests that individuals with obesity who get the flu vaccine as twice as likely to still get flu than individuals without obesity who receive the vaccine.

Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid in weight loss, therefore, reducing your risk of chronic health conditions.

These include type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

no sugarIt is important to note that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease can weaken your immune system.

Therefore, limiting added sugar is an important part of an immune-boosting diet, according to studies.

Make sure to thrive to limit your sugar intake to less than 5% of the daily calories.

This equals 2 tbs or 25 grams of sugar if you are on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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5# Fermnted Foods or Probiotic Supplements

It is important to note that fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria or probiotics which help to populate your digestive tract.

These foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto.

Moreover, research indicates that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells to better differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms.

immune system 3In a 3 month study, children who drank 2.4 ounces or 70mL of fermented milk had about 20% fewer infections than with a control group.

However, if you do not eat fermented foods regularly, then you can take probiotic supplements.

Another study indicates that people who have rhinovirus infection when supplemental with probiotic Bifidobacterium animals show a stronger immune response and lower levels of virus in the nasal mucus.

6# Healthy Fats

Healthy fats that are found in olive oil, and salmon can help to boost your immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation.

Though low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, however, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system according to studies.

fatsOlive oil is a highly anti-inflammatory oil and is also linked to decreasing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties can also help your body to fight off harmful disease that develops due to bacteria and viruses.

On the other hand, omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon and chia seeds can also help to fight off inflammation.

7# Whole Plant Foods

Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Moreover, they also give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens.

The antioxidants in these foods help to decrease inflammation by fighting unstable compounds: Free Radicals.

These can cause inflammation when they build up in your body at high levels. according to studies.

Additionally, chronic inflammation is linked to different health conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain types of cancer.

whole foodsFiber that is abundant in plant foods feeds your gut microbes or the healthy bacteria in your gut.

A robust gut microbiome can help to improve your immunity and help you stay away from harmful pathogens from entering your body through the digestive tract.

Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C that can help to reduce the duration of the common cold, according to studies.

8# Get Enough Sleep

It is important to note that both sleep and immunity are closely tied.

In fact, not getting enough sleep is linked to higher respectability to sickness.

In a study, researchers found that people who sleep fewer than 6 hours are more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep 6 or more hours each night.

Moreover, getting adequate rest can also help to strengthen your natural immunity.

You may sleep more when you are sick, this allows your immune system to fight better.

immune system 2Therefore, adults should aim to sleep for 7 or more hours while teens should sleep for 8 to 10 hours.

However, younger children and infants need up to 14 hours of sleep.

Thus, if you are having trouble sleeping, try limiting your screen time to an hour before going to bed.

This is because ble light from your phone, TV, and computer can disrupt your circadian rhythm or your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.

Other sleeping tips are to make sure that you sleep in a completely dark room, use a sleep mask, go to bed at the same time every night, and exercise regularly.

9# Taking Supplements

If you clear claims about the ability of supplements to treat or even prevent COVID-19, you can easily turn to use them.

However, these assertions are unfounded and untrue.

According to the National Institutes of Health, NIH, there is no evidence that supports the use of any supplement to prevent or even treat COVID 19.

Studies indicate that vitamin C, D, zinc, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic can help to strengthen your body’s general immune response.

immune system 4While these supplements have potential benefits, however, there is no evidence that suggests that they are effective against COVID-19.

Moreover, supplements are prone to mislabeling as they are not regulated by the Food and Dry Administration, FDA.

Therefore, you should only get those that have been tested independently by a third-party organization like the United States Pharmacopeia or NSF international.

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Final Thoughts

With the help of several lifestyle and dietary changes, you can strengthen your immune system.

These include reducing your sugar intake, drinking enough water, working out regularly, and getting enough sleep, etc.

As non of the above is proved to prevent COVID-19, they may reinforce the defense system in your body against harmful pathogens.

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