You can thank your lucky stars that your body came complete with an immune system. Without an immune system, think of the havoc that would be wreaked in your life fighting off microorganisms that can inflict infectious diseases. That’s not to count the likes of flu viruses and cold bugs frequently pestering you, knocking on your door trying to get in, even when you can’t see or feel them. Without an immune system, we would be left defenseless against any invading germ imaginable.
What Is the Immune Response?
Your immune system has a finely-tuned defense system that can detect and distinguish bad bacteria from good bacteria and go to work on your behalf swatting those bugs and preventing you from getting sick. This is what’s known as the “immune response,” something that almost always comes packaged with the immune system, although the immune response gradually grows weaker as we get older, leaving us more susceptible to infectious diseases, even certain types of cancer.
Per health.harvard.edu, a decrease in immune response to infections has been shown by the reaction of elderly people to vaccines. An example of this has been borne out through studies involving influenza vaccines, which, for adults over 65 have shown to be less effective than such vaccines given to children. However, if you are over 65, don’t take that as a reason to start skipping the annual flu shot – they still can significantly reduce the chances of sickness (and death) in the elderly compared to not getting the vaccine at all.
How to Boost Your Immune System
Keeping your immune system strong and functioning optimally needs to be a daily priority for you, but it can be easier said than done because there are a variety of components that comprise the immune system. Eating one kind of food or focusing on one type of nutritional supplement won’t be enough to keep the immune system properly balanced and in harmony, per health.harvard.edu.
Immunity is not just about what kind of nutritional aids you take or the food you choose to consume; it also involves lifestyle factors such as getting regular physical activity (also known as “exercise”). Following are some lifestyle strategies and nutritional choices aimed at strengthening your immune system:
- Turmeric. Sold by Wonder Labs under the brand name Turmax, turmeric is a bright-yellow, somewhat bitter spice. It has been in vogue for decades as a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help work against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Its high concentrations of curcumin has been shown to be effective in minimizing muscle damage brought on by exercise.
- Speaking of which, exercise regularly. And if you can, minimize stress in your life. Chronic stress can be a lot for an immune system to contend with for a long period of time.
- Practice good sanitation. Wash your hands frequently, and when cooking meat or fish, cook it thoroughly.
- Don’t smoke. Nicotine might give you a brief calming effect, but it and other compounds contained in tobacco smoke can be toxic to your body, over time weakening your immune system.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation, per health.harvard.edu.
- Consume vitamin C. Vitamin C is known as one of the best, proven boosters of immune system health, per health.clevelandclinic.org. Foods rich in C include oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and spinach. Vitamin C is believed to promote the production of white cells, per healthline.com, which play an important role in fighting off infections. Note that your body doesn’t produce vitamin C on its own; it’s up to you to supply the goods.
- Garlic. Garlic is a popular garnish for numerous types of food, but it’s also a promoter of good health, known to help reduce elevated blood pressure while slowing down the hardening of arteries. It also is comprised of a number of compounds that contain sulfur, such as allicin, which are believed to boost immune health, per healthline.com.
- Ginger. This powerful spice seems to work in tandem with your immune system through its varied health-inducing properties. This includes alleviating sore throats and other illnesses related to inflammation, while also reducing chronic pain and lowering cholesterol levels. Ginger also is a good go-to choice when it comes to relieving nausea.
- Beta Carotene. Also known in many circles as vitamin A, beta carotene can contribute to immune system health by helping to keep your eyes and skin healthy. Beta carotene can be found in such foods as red bell peppers and spinach. Note, too, per healthline.com that beta carotene has shown an apparent ability to help boost the immune system’s capacity to fight off infectious diseases.
- Get plenty of sleep. Your immune system needs as much rest as any other system in your body.
- Vitamin B6. It is known to support biochemical reactions in the immune system, per health.clevelandclinic.org. Among the foods with an abundance of B6 are chicken, salmon, tuna, chick peas, and some green vegetables.
- Mushrooms. You have a number of good choices in terms of immunity. They include reishi, cordyceps, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms. All are known immunity boosters