Care about your immune system

Habitomic Journalist
Habitomic Journalist

The immune system defends the body from infection. It is made up of a complex network of cells, chemicals, tissues, and organs. An underactive or overactive immune system can cause health issues.

The immune system’s job is to protect the body from infection. It recognizes invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi as well as abnormal cells. It mounts an immune response to help the body fight the invasion.

When harmful microbes (tiny particles) enter and invade the body, the body produces white blood cells to fight the infection. The white blood cells identify the microbe, produce antibodies to fight it, and help other immune responses to occur. They also ‘remember’ the attack.

The immune system involves many parts of the body. Each part plays a role in recognizing foreign microbes, communicating with other parts of the body, and working to fight the infection. Parts of the immune system are:

  • skin – the first line of defense
  • bone marrow – helps produce immune cells
  • the thymus, a gland in the upper chest where some immune cells mature
  • lymphatic system, a network of tiny vessels that allows immune cells to travel between tissues and the bloodstream.
  • lymph nodes, small lumps in the groin, armpit, around the neck, and elsewhere that help the lymphatic system to communicate. They can become swollen when the body mounts an immune response
  • the spleen, an organ under the ribs on the left that processes information from the blood
  • mucous membranes, like the lining of the inside of the mouth

Immune system problems:

Sometimes the immune system may become inappropriately active in response to something in the environment. That can lead to issues like food allergies, eczema, allergic asthma, and others.

Some types of immune system problems mean that you won’t be able to fight off infections as easily. These can be divided into primary and secondary immune system disorders.

· Primary immune system disorders

Primary immune system disorders are rare genetic problems that you inherit from your parents. They affect different parts of your immune system and so may all cause slightly different patterns and severity of symptoms.

· Secondary (acquired) immune deficiency disorders

Unlike primary immune system disorders, these are not present genetically from birth. A key example is AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) caused by untreated transmission with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). AIDS makes a person prone to life-threatening infections that unaffected people can fight off easily.

· Atopic immune system problems

Atopic diseases are another group of conditions caused by problems with your immune system. People with these diseases have a predisposition to produce abnormally large amounts of certain antibodies—protective proteins produced by the immune system—in response to specific triggers.

People with these diseases have an exaggerated reaction to certain substances in the environment, such as pollen, dust mites, and food allergens.

Some key examples of atopic immune system problems are eczema, asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and food allergies.

· Autoimmune problems

The third group of problems related to the immune system is autoimmune diseases, which may affect 3%–5% of people. In these diseases, part of your immune system starts to abnormally attack a portion of your own body.

How boost your immune system?

The idea of boosting your immunity is enticing, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.

1. Have a healthy lifestyle:

Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system working properly. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Keep current with all recommended vaccines. Vaccines prime your immune system to fight off infections before they take hold of your body.

2. Have a healthy diet

Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment.

There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses in animals, as measured in the test tube. However, the impact of these immune system changes on the health of animals is less clear, and the effect of similar deficiencies on the human immune response has yet to be assessed.

So, if you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs — may be, for instance, you don’t like vegetables — taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may bring other health benefits, beyond any possibly beneficial effects on the immune system. Taking mega doses of a single vitamin does not. More is not necessarily better.

3. Manage your stress

Modern medicine has come to appreciate the closely linked relationship of mind and body. A wide variety of maladies, including stomach upset, hives, and even heart disease, are linked to the effects of emotional stress.

4. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system.

Healthy foods for the immune system:

Your lifestyle and food habits have a great role in determining the quality of your immune system functioning. Including more vegetables and fruits in your diet is the first step to having a healthy body. Also, know that all foods have an optimal dose to serve. Taking foods in their optimal dose will provide you with all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. When you are considering foods for the immune system, remember to avoid processed foods, grains, and sugar.

1. Yogurt

This is one of the best foods for the immune system as it contains probiotics or the “live active cultures.” These healthy bacteria will keep the gut and intestinal tract free of diseases. This can also help to avoid skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps.

2. Garlic

With its active ingredient, allicin, garlic fights infection and reduces the chance of cold and influenza. It is an effective agent to prevent cancer also, with its high antioxidant content.

3. Salmon

The foods for the immune system should include salmon, which is a very rich source of Vitamin A and E, zinc, and omega-3. All of these act as an immunity enhancers by supporting your system.

4. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid. When this is converted into monolaurin in the body, it helps in strengthening the immune system of the body. Take care about the amount of coconut oil servings as this may not be good for heart patients.

5. Organic vegetables

When it comes to fighting pathogens, this is among the list of good foods for the immune system. Fresh, organic, and raw vegetables will increase the number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes in the body.

6. Peaches

This is good for the immune system when consumed fresh and the goods will be lost when there is a canning process. Make sure that you select organic peaches for better results.

7. Blueberries and raspberries

Both these foods have a very high antioxidant content. The ORAC score is very high when compared to most of the other fruits and vegetables.

8. Mushrooms

Foods for the immune system will include mushrooms, which are rich in proteins, fiber, vitamin c, calcium, and other minerals. These properties of mushrooms will help in activating the immune system.

To sum up, your immune system does an important job protecting you from serious infections. It has many complex components, activated in different ways to kill bacteria, viruses, and other potential invaders. Different problems with the immune system can lead to a variety of medical issues. If your immune system is weakened in some way, it may not be able to fight off some infections.

There are many ways you can do to take care of your immune system that was mentioned. So, what are you waiting for? Do them sooner.