Your body is more vulnerable to harmful bacteria and viruses than you can ever imagine. Simply touching a contaminated doorknob or scratching your skin with dirty hands can let harmful bacteria into your body, giving way to numerous illnesses. This is when your immune system comes in to knock down these threats, defeat the pathogens that carry diseases, and protect your body. The immune system is a complex network of many cells, proteins, and organs that keep us healthy and protected against illnesses. Learning how to strengthen your immune system by providing your body with the needed nutrients is the key to living a healthy, long life. In the following guide, we will explain how the body protects itself from various threats and how you can boost your immune system to enhance this process.
Understanding the Immune System
Your immune system is made up mainly of two parts, innate immunity, and adaptive or acquired immunity. The moment you’re born, your body inherits the innate immunity which creates physical barriers inside the body and on the skin for protection. This provides an additional defense along with the immune cells that respond quickly and attack unwanted guests entering your body such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The rapid response, which is one of the main features of the immune system, is why sometimes inflammation and fever occur. However, the immune system is not capable of differentiating the various strains of viruses and bacteria that enter the body and as a result, it openly and loosely attacks all unwanted visitors that it sometimes fails to remove all the residing pathogens in your body.
When your body or immune system is exposed to new microorganisms, it modifies itself and learns new things to adapt and fight off the new pathogens. This is how your adaptive or acquired immunity works since it automatically attacks new germs that can cause illnesses to your body. Eventually, your immune cells can remember the invaders and prepare your body for their next visit. This means that the next time you get sick with the same illness, your adaptive immunity will be better equipped to protect you against it.
Improve Your Diet to Boost Your Immunity
Eating healthy is known to boost immunity and help the body in fighting diseases. Scientists say about 80% of the immune system is in the gut so when we eat poorly, we are weakening our immune system and making our bodies more vulnerable to infections. To strengthen your immune system, it is recommended to follow healthy diets like the Mediterranean diet which focuses on vitamins from fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats from nuts, good oils, and fatty fish. Such diets are rich in zinc, vitamin C, and antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation and combating infections. Processed and fried food, on the contrary, wear out your guts and immune system resulting in increased exposure to inflammation. This is why whole food diets are better for your body, especially, if you add fermented food to your daily meal plans, such as yogurt, kefir, and miso. These types of food are rich in good bacteria, which your gut and immune system need to stay healthy and fight off diseases.
The Role of Supplements
Vitamin D is an essential component that aids in strengthening your immune system and protecting your body against various illnesses. A daily dose of vitamin D supplement is enough to give you the immune system support you need to fight off viruses. If you think you have low vitamin D levels, you can get a blood test to find out how much your daily dose should be. An average person should take a daily dose of 600 to 800 IU, while those with lower levels than the average are advised to consume 2000 IU of vitamin D per day. These supplements should be taken with meals that include healthy fats or oils to increase the supplement’s absorption rate.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation leads your body to produce stress hormones that keep you alert and awake. These hormones, however, affect your immunity negatively and put your body at risk of developing harmful diseases. Your body needs all the rest it can get to recharge its energy and let your immune system slow down before it gets overworked. Not getting enough sleep decreases the functions of your body’s immunity and puts you at a higher exposure to colds and other infectious viruses.
Our bodies have multiple ways of fighting off diseases, but our main shield against all kinds of infections is our immune system. Many organs, proteins, and cells are involved in this process like your skin, which acts as a protective physical barrier, and your white blood cells that work all day to protect your body and block unwanted pathogens. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, and consuming the proper supplements your body needs are some of the most effective ways that can help boost your immune system and keep you healthy.