The exact workings of the immune system are something of a mystery for many scientists, but one thing they do agree on is the fact that viruses, bacteria, and pathogens can be banished if your system is strong enough to face it. This means it’s important to make sure you balance all the parts that make up that system, allowing them to work in harmony. The CDC notes that people with strong immune systems are less likely to pick up infections, so how can you make sure you live in a way that gives your own immune system a fighting chance?
What is immunity anyway?
Immunity comes in two different forms – adaptive and innate. Adaptive immunity develops through exposure to pathogens, which various organs and cells (the thymus, the spleen, the lymph nodes and bone marrow) investigate in order to create antibodies, ultimately leading to specific immune cells multiplying, which can effectively attack and eradicate the harmful pathogen. If a similar pathogen enters your system again, your body will remember and stave off infection even faster than before.
Innate immunity is easier to influence, and it’s important in stopping pathogens before they even have the chance to enter your system. Healthy skin and enzymes in sweat and tears can provide a barrier to pathogens. Effective mucus production can trap and contain harmful substances that try to sneak in, and functional stomach acid will destroy pathogens that enter through food. Following a lifestyle that maintains all of these areas is the key to winning your own personal fight against illness and disease.
You are what you eat
Think about how you feel after a couple of days eating fatty, greasy, or sugary food – perhaps something similar to slow, dull, apathetic or idle comes to mind? One way to stop your immune system dragging behind too is to think about what you eat. Ensure you are including defense-friendly foods such as fruits, grains, lean proteins and vegetables (especially green vegetables, which have been shown to improve immune health) in your diet. Whilst you may enjoy the odd fast food treat or nibble on some refined foods high in sugar from time to time, these foods can increase inflammation and lower immune response – and this effect can last for a few weeks.
If you find it hard to meet your fruit and veg requirements, or if you suspect that your diet is lacking in other areas, you could choose to take a daily supplement of vitamins and minerals to ensure that your body is receiving all the nutrition it needs. You’ll see benefits to other areas of your body in addition to your level of immunity. Micronutrients such as copper, zinc, folic acid, and various vitamins are all thought to have an effect on immunity, so it makes sense to keep levels boosted.
Train hard and rest harder
Food isn’t the only thing that’ll boost your immunity – think skin, sweat, and tears too. Regular exercise – whether it is a relaxing session of yoga or an energetic session of racquetball — will tone your skin and improve circulation, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine, coating it in sweat which contains a natural anti-bacterial compound. Add some sound sleep into the equation and you’ll be laughing rather than crying as you enjoy feeling refreshed and healthy with bright eyes protected by moisture.
Whether you’re healthy already and want to stay that way or you’re feeling under-par and want to improve your well-being, reviewing and adjusting how you live your life, even in small ways, can make a big impact. Give your body everything it needs to feed the fight inside you and you’ll see the difference on the outside too.