The world has seen many periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases such as MERS (middle east respiratory syndrome), SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), presently the coronavirus pandemic that has proved to be life-threatening and has led to millions of cases across the world. Therefore it has become the need of an hour to support our health and wellbeing, mainly our immune system at different levels.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS IMMUNE HEALTH?
The immune system is a defence mechanism of our body that fights against harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens and protects our body from infections and diseases of various kinds. Two main parts that comprise the immune system are:
INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The innate immune system is something a child is born with and it is inherited by parents. Its main job is to protect against the invaded particles in our bodies
ACQUIRED IMMUNE SYSTEM
The acquired immune system is developed over a lifetime. When a pathogen enters a body, the acquired immune system produces cells (antibodies), with the help of the innate system and protects our body from a specific invader.
It can transpire from
- A vaccine
- Exposure to infection or disease
- Another person’s antibodies
The antibodies developed after first exposure stays in our body and the immune system will recognize the invader and protect against it hereafter.
AFTER KNOWING WHAT IS IMMUNE HEALTH THE QUESTION IS WHY DO WE NEED A GOOD IMMUNE HEALTH?
A healthy and sound immune system helps you go about daily life and function well as you come in contact with germs and bugs from people and the environment. Without a healthy immune system, a human body could pick up infections and infectious diseases that could result in serious conditions – even fatal.
A healthy immune system protects our body first with the help of physical barriers but if viruses and bacteria manage to slip off the barrier, the immune system produces the white blood cells and other chemicals and proteins that will jump into action and destroy these foreign substances. The immune system is capable of recognizing millions of antigens and can produce all that takes to eradicate them keeping health problems at bay.
But sometimes our immune system can overreact and identify a substance as being harmful when it’s not. This is what results in allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases.
In this article, I will try my best to explain what is immune health and all the things related to it.
DEBUNKING THE MYTHS ABOUT IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Exercise does not affect the immune system
Physical activity does not only builds your muscles but also boosts your immunity. Regular exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle can boost cardiovascular health, thus aiding in the circulation of white blood cells and support the functioning of the lymphatic system.
- Less sleep does not affect immunity
There have been a lot of studies that show a link between sleep and a healthy immune system.
It is important to give yourself enough sleep to naturally strengthen the immune system. It is observed that people with poor quality of sleep are more prone to getting sick.
- Stress does not affect the immune system
As most of us are aware stress and depression can cause many health effects in our body, sadly it impacts the immune system too. Cortisol, a stress hormone can adversely affect the functioning and effectiveness of the immune system
- Taking a lot of supplements can boost immunity rapidly when needed
The practice of doubling up the vitamins and minerals supplements when feeling sick isn’t the effective way to boost immunity. Practising a healthy lifestyle and habits from starting is the best way to make your immune system strong
- Not everyone is born with a healthy immune system. Some people are born with primary immunodeficiency disorders affecting their ability to fight against the various illnesses and diseases
SO, NOW ONE MIGHT HAVE UNDERSTOOD AS TO WHAT IS IMMUNE HEALTH AND WHY DO WE NEED A GOOD IMMUNE HEALTH.
How to increase immune health ? Here are some ways:
- Get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly and try to reduce stress in life. Morning meditation, yoga can help in maintaining peace of mind. Cut down the consumption of alcohol.
- Diet has a vital role to play in the immune-boosting process. Eat more whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes which are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that will help you fight against harmful pathogens. Intake of healthy fats found in olive oil and salmon may boost one’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Including probiotic supplements in your diet can be very beneficial. These foods include yoghurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and natto.
- Hydrate yourself properly
Immune system vitamins: Sources of vitamin C
Sources of vitamin D
- Taking supplements wisely like vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc in recommended amount may strengthen your body’s immune response.