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In this article, we will look at the top 5 ways to boost your immune system.
In the hurry phase of modern life, you might take your immune system for granted.
Working quietly in the background, our immune system protects us from bacteria, viruses, and other microbes to defend us against diseases.
It’s a complex network of organs, cells, and various proteins in our body that act in a coordinated manner to defend our body from various types of pathogens.
During the flu or viral season, many of your friends might get sick.
But some would stand tall even when everyone in their home is sick with the flu.
Have you ever wondered, how some people get sick very often and some are more prone to catching a cold or viral infection?
Well, it’s all about the body’s immune system.
The immune system is the first line of defense of our body against alien micro-organisms entering the body.
Stronger your immune system, lesser would be the chance of you falling sick.
With the little changes that we will further discuss in this article, you can ensure that your immune system is strong enough to protect you from various types of infections.
Without wasting much time, let’s quickly look on the
Top 5 ways to boost your immune system
1. Improve your Gut health
Your Gastro-intestinal tract mix up a large part of your immune system. Up to 70% of your immune cells live in this part.
The lining of your intestines, for example, secretes anti-bodies and contains cells that recognize and destroy harmful bacteria.
Since our Gut receives a lot of micro-organisms with the food we eat, the wall of our Gut provides a barrier immunity, which prevents these micro-organisms to enter our body.
Apart from providing immunity, our gut is home to about more than 1000 species of bacteria.
The Gut Microbiome that resides in the gastrointestinal tract provides essential health benefits, particularly by regulating our immune system.
Moreover, it has recently become obvious that alteration of these microbial communities can cause immune dis-regulation leading to auto-immune disorders.
Here are some proven methods by which you can improve your Gut health and ways to boost your immune system as well.
Take a Probiotic
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially for your digestive system.
Probiotics are often called helpful or good Bacteria because they help to keep your gut healthy.
They do so by balancing the growth of pathogenic bacteria in your gut.
This helps your gut to maintain a healthy community of micro-organisms that boosts your immune system.
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits. But most come from two groups
LACTOBACILLUS AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM
Lactobacillus may be the most common probiotics, It is found in Yogurt and other fermented foods.
Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help people who can’t digest lactose (the sugar in milk)
Bifidobacterium can be found in some dairy products. It is also found in large numbers in yogurt and foods like Olives, Sauerkraut, Salami, and Cheese.
It may help ease the symptoms of IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME and some other conditions.
Avoid Taking Processed Foods
A study in the Nutrition Journal of WHO looked at the impact of the western diet and lifestyle on people’s immune function.
It was found that a large number of calories present in processed and fast food may lead to health problems such as
- Increase inflammation
- Reduce control of infection
- Increased rates of cancer
- Increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory diseases
The study authors also pointed out that poor dietary choices get encoded into both DNA and our Gut Microbiome.
Meaning, that our food and lifestyle choices can permanently change the balance of bacteria in our bodies and we can weaken the immune system.
It also means those changes can be passed onto our offspring. So, cut down your fast foods and heavily processed foods, and include more natural foods in your diet.
2. Check your Vitamin Level
Vitamins are essential to life; these organic compounds usually acquired as a part of a balanced diet are required for biological and metabolic processes.
Immune cells are one of the most rapidly dividing cells of our body and they need large amounts of vitamins to reproduce and function properly.
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins related to your immune health.
People who get chronic infections have low levels of Vitamin D.
I recommend supplementing with 2000-5000 international units of Vitamin D per day, get plenty of Sunshine, and eat foods rich in vitamin D.
You can ask your doctor to check your level to determine the exact amount that you need.
A biologically active form of dietary vitamin A Retinoic Acid can have profound effects on the immune system.
Retinoic Acid is being tested as a potential therapeutic for the treatment of several auto-immune diseases like arthritis, psoriasis, or multiple sclerosis.
Foods rich in Vitamin A include food like
- Green vegetables
Vitamin E is known for its potent antioxidant ability has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in our immune system.
Now you can get a lot of these vitamins in large quantities by ingesting one multi-vitamin pill a day, but it’s obviously better if you get these vitamins from natural sources.
Aim for a balanced diet of whole unprocessed foods that contain plenty of vitamins and Anti-oxidants.
We should include 4-5 servings of greens like lettuce, mustards and colleen greens, get plenty of mushrooms.
Not only a mushroom is a great source of immune-boosting vitamin D, but studies also show that varieties such as Reishi can boost white blood cell activity.
Add plenty of garlic, when crushed, it releases allicin, a compound that fights infection-causing microbes.
3. Get involved in Physical Activities
Physical activities stimulate the immune system and strengthen infection defense.
Exercise has anti-inflammatory effects, which means that moderate amounts of exercise enhances immune function above sedentary levels.
Physical activities are also associated with reduced C – reactive protein levels, which is a protein whose levels indicate the level of inflammation and stress in your body.
Exercise helps to circulate your blood and improve the flow of Lymphatic fluid.
Lymphatic fluid travels through your cells and tissues and removes bacteria, toxins, waste products, and cancer cells.
Do some types of Cardio exercise 5 days a week for at least 30-40 minutes per day.
However, continuous regress workouts can even weaken the immune system, leaving you prone to flu and viral infections.
4. Cut down The Stress
Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing a hormone “CORTISOL”
Cortisol interferes with the T-cells (A specific type of White blood cell that reproduces and receives signals from the body)
Cortisol also reduces the antibodies secretion of IGA which lies in the Gut and Respiratory tract and is our first line of defense against pathogens.
Stress can also have an indirect impact on the functioning of the Immune system as a person may use unhealthy strategies to reduce their stress such as drinking and smoking.
To investigate whether the stress of important examination had an effect on the functioning of the immune system, researchers conducted an experiment on first-year medical students.
49 of them were males and 26 females. All of them were volunteers.
Blood samples were taken one month before their final examinations which is considered a relatively low-stress time and during their examinations which was a high-stress time.
Immune functioning was accessed by measuring T-cell activity in the blood samples.
The blood sample taken from the first group before the exam contains more T cells which are highly active as compared to the blood samples which were taken during the exams which showed a low concentration of t cells and less active cells.
Researchers also found that immune responses were especially weak in those students who reported feeling most lonely as well as those who were experiencing other stressful life events like psychiatric symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
This study clearly showed the relation between stress and our immune system.
There are many things which can be done to reduce the stress which we will see in some other Article in detail.
As of now, if I could talk about just one thing here that would be to MEDITATE
Even 15-20 minutes in the morning for 3-4 days a week can set your mind in the right direction and makes you more tolerant of the stresses that come your way throughout the day.
It reduces your Cortisol levels and research even shows that it helps to prevent the breakdown of your chromosomes that can lead to cancer and premature aging.
5. Take Adequate Sleep
When it comes to your immunity, sleep plays a very important role, while sleeping for 10 hours a day won’t prevent you from getting sick.
Skipping on it could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to viral and bacterial infections like flu and sore throat.
Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer Cytokines (A type of protein that targets infection and inflammation for an effective immune response)
Cytokines are released in much smaller quantities when you are sleep deprived.
In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during the periods when you don’t get enough sleep.
So lack of sleep adversely affects your immune system. Your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.
Long term lack of sleep also increases your risks of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
How much sleep do you need to boost your immune system?
The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is 7-8 hours of good sleep each night.
Teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep
And school-age students may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
So, create effective sleep hygiene, make a schedule to be in the bed at a fixed time every night, preferably before 11:30 pm and try to be asleep between 12:30-02:30 am because that time is very important as far as your Circadian rhythm is concerned.
In today’s advancing age of technology and gadgets, one thing that has been hit hard is our sleep.
All of us have struggled with our sleep at one point or another in our life.
Even the healthiest persons get ill every now and then, but by fine-tuning certain aspects of health routine such as diet and stress management, you can help strengthen your immune system’s defense against bacteria, toxic chemicals, and viruses that cause conditions like common cold and flu.
I hope you liked the ways to boost your immune system, if so, kindly share it with your friends on your social media accounts.