Oxford Languages defines immunity as “the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells”. In simple words, immunity protects us from microbial substances that are foreign and hence unfamiliar to the body.
These may be harmful in nature, and fought against by our white blood cells.
It is interesting to note that approximately 3% of the American population suffers from low immunity. That means that about 9930000 people in America experience negative repercussions due to low immunity. Now, that’s a big number but all’s not lost. There are methods you can adopt to improve your immunity. But before we get into that, let’s gain a thorough understanding of the immune system.
The immune system is a protection mechanism that safeguards our body against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins, and parasites. It keeps an account of the germs which enter and exit our body and hence develops antibodies to fight them off. That in turn ensures that such germs, pathogens, or infection cannot return. In the event that it does enter the body, the immune system knows how to prepare a thorough attack. Therefore, the immune system is a combination of many cells and tissues that work to protect our body against harmful pathogens. A pathogen here is an organism that causes disease). The immune system has several important mechanisms and components that play an integral role in its functioning.
White blood cells circulate in blood vessels and lymphatic vessels constantly looking for pathogens. When they find a pathogen, they multiply and signal other cell types to do the same. This occurs through two types of white blood cells - phagocytes and lymphocytes. Here, phagocytes are white blood cells that destroy dangerous germs and bacteria whereas lymphocytes are white blood cells responsible for recognizing outsiders. They work together as an internal security system.
Mainly there are two kinds of lymphocytes: B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes. Lymphocytes start their journey in the bone marrow. If they stay there, they mature as B-lymphocytes, travel to the thymus gland and become T-lymphocytes. B-lymphocytes are the intelligence system of our body, and the T-lymphocytes are the soldiers of our bodies. Both of these systems work simultaneously to fight against the invaders and improve immunity.
Neutrophils are another type of white blood cell that play an integral role in the immune system. They are white blood cells that are responsible for the healing of damaged tissues. So, they are very sensitive to chronic diseases as they quickly decrease in response to chronic diseases. Here, they have a natural tendency to increase the response of our body to injuries and infections. That is supported by leukocytes. White blood cells stored in the lymphoid organs are known as leukocytes. They play an essential role in maintaining our immune system and bringing all the components together.
Now, let’s uncover the aspect of boosting the functioning of this immune system.
Needless to say, boosting the immune system can improve your overall health. So, it is vital that work is done to ensure the immune system remains in top shape. There are various aspects that you can look into for that - some minute, some basic, but all equally as important.
Get Enough Sleep
It is a well-known fact that sleep and immunity are directly related to each other. If you do not get adequate sleep, you are more likely to get sick. Getting quality sleep can help in improving the immune system naturally. So, it is important that you recommend optimal sleep to everyone.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Consuming a high amount of alcohol can harm the functioning of your immune system. After a high intake of alcohol, your body continuously tries to detoxify your system. That pushes the kidneys and liver to do extra work, sometimes even to the effect of damaging them. It becomes so busy that it forgets its normal functioning.
A high level of alcohol in your body makes your system weaker against viruses and bacteria and increases the time taken to recover from sickness. Therefore, alcohol should always be consumed in a moderate amount to allow the digestive tract optimal functioning.
Now this is a tip that really hits home. Supplements are strongly recommended for the treatment of viral diseases. Many studies show that proper supplementation can help boost the immune system.
Some of the most common supplements used to get natural immunity are Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic. Many of the above supplements are used to combat viral diseases.
However, there is one problem associated with supplements: they are not regulated. Needless to say, you should maintain optimal precaution when purchasing them.
Eat More Healthy Fats
Research shows that healthy fats can greatly influence the immune system. And it is not that difficult to source them. You can get it from numerous sources, such as salmon, olive oil, etc. These substances possess high anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the risk of diseases related to heart and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory characteristics can help your body stand stronger against viruses.
Manage Stress Levels
This one is a no-brainer. Stress is often responsible for many diseases in your body, and can significantly lower your immunity. Ongoing stress can make the body susceptible to illness and disease. When you are stressed, the brain sends defense signals to the endocrine system, which then releases hormones that prepare the body for fight or flight.
That does prepare us for emergencies but can also severely affect immunity at the same time. The process occurs through chemical reactions that flood the body with cortisol. Among other things, it decreases inflammation, decreases white blood cells and NK cells (special cells that kill cancer), increases tumor development and growth, and increases the rate of infection and tissue damage.
It is important to note that long term stress can damage the immune system of children for an extended period of time. And that creates challenges that span across the entirety of their lives. Hence, it is important to look after these factors and ensure the immune system is working optimally. That allows the body to perform to its best and enables individuals to deliver exceedingly.