Keeping your immune system in check at all times is imperative. The aspect of your body that protects you from becoming ill, your immune system is fundamentally your body’s defence mechanism against a whole host of nasty infections, diseases, viruses and other conditions. It’s the part of you that keeps you healthy, but it can’t do it all on its own – it also needs your help.
By looking after your immune system properly, you will not only put yourself in a better position to fight off more illnesses but you’ll also make yourself feel a lot better. So, what are some of the best ways to do just that? And how exactly can you make sure you’re keeping your immune system in tip-top condition?
Well, that’s where we can help.
However, before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to boost your immune system effectively, it’s important to understand how it actually works. In other words, we need a quick biology lesson. Welcome to Immunology 101.
Understanding Your Immune System
As we’ve mentioned already, the immune system is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders and substances. These foreign substances can come in the form of many things – viruses, bacteria, pollen, fungi, toxins – and are otherwise known as antigens.
The immune system is able to recognise these antigens and, when it does, can produce certain compounds (i.e. antibodies) to remove them before they cause any lasting damage.
To do this effectively, it relies on two key parts of the immune system that work in conjunction with each other.
The first part, called the innate immune system, refers to the rapid response system we inherit from our parents which becomes active from the moment we are born. This system is much quicker and deadlier, engulfing foreign invaders as soon as they’re recognised inside phagocytes (a type of immune cell) before destroying them.
The second part is called the acquired immune system. This system, as its name suggests, is one you ‘acquire’ throughout your life which works by utilising B lymphocytes to produce specific antibodies against the antigens you encounter. These antibodies then stay in your body ready and waiting for the same antigens to appear so they can destroy them.
What To Avoid
So, what’s all this got to do with boosting your immune system?
Well, research has found that the healthier you are, the better your immune response will prove to be – which can only be a good thing, right?
Nobody wants to get sick, after all, so the more you can do to keep your immune system in great shape, the better.
That said, certain lifestyle choices we all make can be detrimental to the health of our immune system without us even knowing. We’ve listed a few of these below, highlighting some of the big no-no’s to avoid if you’re looking to boost your immune response:
- Research has shown that smoking can impair important cell signalling pathways, which can inhibit the strength and efficiency of the immune response.
- Excessive Alcohol. Drinking excessive quantities of alcohol can significantly weaken your host defence, enabling foreign invaders to more easily harm your body.
- Insufficient Sleep. Not getting enough good quality sleep can make you more susceptible to cold and flu viruses while also reducing your ability to recover as quickly as normal.
- Lack of Exercise. Exercise flushes toxins out of the body and helps circulate white blood cells around the body, enabling them to detect foreign substances more quickly.
- Stress can impact the immune system’s ability to recognise and fight off antigens due to a hormone called corticosteroid that reduces the number of available lymphocytes.
How To Boost Your Immune System
It should go without saying really, but the ultimate way to keep your immune response healthy comes through avoiding the points listed above: don’t smoke, don’t drink too much, get at least eight hours sleep per night, exercise regularly and try to avoid feeling overly stressed.
It’s well known that having a healthy diet and lifestyle will generally make you feel a lot better – and that’s largely down to your immune system. So, the more you can do to support it, the less susceptible you’ll be to potential threats and the healthier a life you’ll lead.
With this in mind, listed below are a few extra great ideas to think about when trying to boost your immune system:
Get Enough Vitamins & Minerals
Whether it be A, B, C, D, E, magnesium, calcium, iron or biotin, your body LOVES vitamins.
They are called ‘essential’ nutrients for a reason, after all, mainly due to the number of bodily functions they help support.
Shoring up bones, healing wounds, converting food to energy, repairing cell damage – each vitamin has its own unique function and offers an extremely important supporting role to the immune system.
However, the vitamins and minerals that are best suited to you will typically depend on a number of factors, including your age, weight, pre-existing medical history, etc. So, if you’re unsure about which vitamins you need, simply get in touch with us and we’ll be able to help.
Keep Yourself Stress-Free
While it may be a lot easier said than done, research has found an association between stress and an impaired immune response. Therefore, the more you can do to keep your stress levels down, the healthier you should feel as a result.
Doing this effectively really depends on you and how you enjoy spending your downtime. Mindfulness techniques like yoga and meditation have been shown to have a very positive effect on reducing stress, as has exercising on a regular basis.
The body’s immune system is what keeps you safe from harm. So, it’s important to look after it properly.
However, by following the advice listed above and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can do exactly that, keeping yourself well-protected against antigens and nasty foreign substances both now and in the future.