Nature has equipped us with the best of defence mechanisms: our immune system. Our immune system is like a smart machine. Every time it comes across a new bug (a bacteria, a virus or any foreign particle), it not only does everything in its power to fix it, but it also memorizes it. So, in the future, if the same external body invades our body, it can be treated quickly and efficiently.
The immune system is equipped with cells that are activated or inhibited whenever your body encounters a foreign invader. These invaders can be viruses, bacteria or a foreign object. As a result of exposure to these invaders, a strong immune system either eliminates the invader or minimizes its effects. Whereas, a weaker immune system leads you to sickness, only.
Though your body is continuously working to help you stay healthy, exposure to the toxin, continuous stress and unhealthy nutrition can weaken your immune system. A weakened immune system fails to fight efficiently against infections, which can make you sick. On the other hand, foreign particles also evolve. They mutate and improve methods of attacking to take over the human body. With novel viruses and bacterias, there's a need for a robust immune system more than ever.
How to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally?
The immune system is not a single entity. It consists of thousands of cells working together in harmony to boost your immunity. Fortunately, following the advice of research and healthcare experts can help you have stronger defence and a better quality of life.
1. Reducing Stress Levels
When you are stressed, your body naturally releases a hormone called cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol weaken your immune system. Cortisol interferes with the activation of T-cells, a component of the immune system.
T-cells are one of the primary cells involved in fighting invaders. Cortisol also reduces the secretion of a protein, IgA, that acts as the first defender against infections. As a result, T-cells and IgA can not receive signals to protect your body, and you might fall sick.
Exercise, yoga and meditation are some known ways to reduce stress, decrease cortisol levels and strengthen your immune system naturally.
2. Keeping Your A-B-C-D-E in Check
Eating foods rich in vitamins can be the best way to strengthen your immune system naturally. When you're providing your body with an adequate amount of vitamins A, B, C, D and E, you are nourishing your immune cells. It helps them work efficiently in killing microbes and germs that are trying to invade your body. That's why the deficiency of vitamins often leads to lethal diseases. For instance, the lack of vitamin C can result in scurvy. Scurvy leads to swollen gums and bleeding of the wounds. However, eating citrus fruits can provide enough vitamin C to keep scurvy at bay. Similarly, eating vitamin-enriched green leafy vegetables, eggs, carrots, fish, and nuts in an adequate amount can prove to be a useful tip to boost immunity.
3. Get An Adequate Shut-Eye
Another essential tip to boost your immunity is getting the crucial 8-hours sleep. A lack of sleep decreases the release of your immune components- cytokines. Some cytokines are crucial when you are fighting a disease. Sleep deprivation decreases the production of cytokines, which automatically weakens the immune system. Sleep deprivation also lowers the production of antibodies and cells that are essential in fighting diseases and infections.
Therefore, to keep your immune system working optimally, it is necessary to have at least 8 hours shut-eye. Let your brain and immune cells rest and recover from all day-time stress.
Remember, though, that more sleep isn't always better. Excess of anything harms the body too.
4. Include Honey In Your Diet
Honey has excellent anti-inflammation ingredients. With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, honey can strengthen your immune system naturally. Honey consists of trace amounts of vitamin B, Vitamin C, folic acid, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients that ward off microbes. For instance, most cells in the immune system are made up of proteins, and folic acid is an essential constituent of protein synthesis in your body.
5. Spending Time Out Under The Sun
One way to strengthen your immune system is to get an adequate amount of Vitamin-D. When your body is exposed to the sunlight, it starts building Vitamin D required for the growth of your bone and immune cells to work effectively fighting the infection. Spending time in the sun might now be enough to produce ample Vitamin D, though, so eat Vitamin D rich foods such as tuna, eggs and salmon.
Spending time in the sun can help set your body's internal clock, which helps with better sleep.
Though sunlight is effective to boost immunity but remember that the sun produces UV rays at peak time, exposure to these rays for extended periods can result in skin cancer. It is always best to avoid the sun from 12 pm - 3 pm because these are mostly the peak hours when the direct sun rays can potentially be harmful to your skin. Talk to your doctor regarding what would be the safe amount of time to be under the sun. Also, always use sunscreen when exposing your skin to sunlight.
6. Quit Smoking and Alcohol
If there is one thing that directly affects the immune system, it is the nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine alters the growth of infection-fighting cells- the macrophages, mononuclear cells (initiator of inflammation) and cytokines. The outcome is simple, an impaired immune system that may lead to cancer, asthma and other chronic illnesses.
Just like avoiding smoking can strengthen your immune system naturally, reducing alcohol intake can also be a great natural way to boost your immunity. Alcohol interacts with good bacteria residing in your digestive tract. These bacteria are essential for boosting immunity and help combat depression and obesity. Alcohol hinders their growth, which can adversely affect immunity. Therefore, avoiding the intake of alcohol is a useful tip to boost your immunity.
7. Engage in Physical Activity
Last but not least, exercise can be one of the best ways to boost your immunity naturally, quickly. How exactly it affects your immune system is not fully known. Still, some theories suggest that physical activity helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This reduces the chances of catching flu or other respiratory illnesses. Exercise also significantly lowers stress, which in turn boosts the immune system. Make sure, though, not to overdo it. Heavy long term exercising and heavy lifting in the gym actually puts your body under stress and may not be the best for you.
Contact your health provider to discuss what would be the perfect time duration for you to exercise.
A strong immune system is a blessing in disguise. It can keep allergies, viral attacks and even high fevers at bay. Adopt a healthy lifestyle, avoid eating processed food and keeping physical activity part and parcel of your life.
ThoughtCo. 2019. The Role of T Cells in the Body
Live Science. 2018. Vitamin E: Sources, Benefits & Risks
WebMD. 2018. Top Foods for Calcium and Vitamin D
Sleep Foundation. How Sleep Affects Your Immunity
NCBI. 2008. Sleep and Cytokines
Nature. 2009. Nicotine and inflammatory neurological disorders
Science Direct. 2017. Mononuclear Cell
WebMD. What Your Gut Bacteria Say About You
NCBI. Folate status and the immune system.