It’s no secret that the immune system is one of your body’s most important systems. Your immune system doesn’t just keep germs and other substances away that cause infection with only one part of your body. Your body’s immune response comprises an entire network of organs and cells from your skin to your white blood cells. It’s essential to make the necessary lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and taking the right supplements to strengthen the immune system.
Keep in mind that whatever you put into your body can either strengthen or weaken your immune system. In the case of healthy eating, it can only strengthen the immune system. For example, adding broccoli to a healthy salad, soup, or stir-fry will ensure you’re getting the minerals and vitamins it carries from vitamin A to fiber.
Many people don’t get the daily recommended amount of vitamin A in their bodies. Vitamin A reduces cancer risk, promotes bone health, and strengthens your immune system. This vitamin keeps your immune system strong by boosting your white blood cells’ health and keeping the mucus that catches bacteria in your lungs, gut, and eyes healthy.
Fiber helps to boost your immune system differently. Since most of your immune system, about 70% of it, is found in your gut, then bowel-healthy fiber is an excellent way to help keep your gut cleansed. Your gut’s microbiome is generally balanced with good and bad bacteria. However, when the good bacteria isn’t nourished adequately with probiotics, it weakens the gut’s linings. Fortunately, consuming fiber-rich foods such as onions, garlic, broccoli, or whole wheat contains the probiotics needed for a healthy gut and a healthy immune system.
It’s always good to exercise regardless of your desire to boost your immune system. It shouldn’t need to be said that exercise is healthy for the body. If it wasn’t, then no one would do it. Regular exercise promotes healthy blood pressure, reduces risks of various diseases, and boosts the immune system.
One of the ways exercising boosts the immune system is by keeping your lungs flushed. When you exercise, you’re breathing more heavily than you would be sitting around doing nothing. When you’re breathing during exercise, you’re improving your circulation and getting more oxygen to other parts of your body to strengthen your immune system.
Another way exercise strengthens the immune system is by heating up your body, similar to having a fever, to fight off any infections. Many people believe a fever is bacteria in our bodies, causing us to overheat. However, a fever is our immune system activating in an attempt to kill off any infection. In fact, when our body temperature rises, whether it’s by fever or exercise, it sends a signal to the immune system to be ready to fight off infection.
Finally, exercise combats weight gain, obesity, and blood pressure. Obesity can slow down the body’s immune system response, which can leave it susceptible to infection. The more fat cells your body has, the more it continues to believe your body is suffering from inflammation. This keeps your immune system in a permanent state of activation. When your immune system is always triggered, it’s not going to respond as efficiently when your body is attacked by a real infection.
Cutting Out Unhealthy Habits
It shouldn’t have to be said, but many people ignore warning labels anyway: tobacco can severely compromise the immune system. Remember earlier when it was mentioned that whatever you put into your body can positively or negatively affect the immune system? Well, tobacco can negatively affect the immune system in several ways.
The first way tobacco degrades the immune system is by affecting the levels of antioxidants, like vitamin c, in the blood. We will look at the benefits of vitamin c and other antioxidants later in the piece. Tobacco also leaves the body vulnerable to different infections such as influenza or pneumonia. That means harmful bacteria can easily get into your lungs, which were suppressed by tobacco and nicotine.
Having a glass of wine a night might have cardiovascular benefits, but heavy consumption of alcohol can damage immune cells. Heavy drinkers who also smoke are putting their lungs at twice the risk of infection because of how alcohol also affects the lungs. Your airways can be damaged by drinking too much alcohol.
Not only does alcohol damage healthy cells in the airways, but it destroys the beneficial bacteria in the gut too. The healthy gut boosted by the probiotics found in fiber is complicated by the consumption of alcohol.
Getting Plenty Of Sleep
Many people do not know this, but a lack of sleep can also compromise the immune system. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your body has trouble releasing antibodies and other immune cells that help fight off infection. Not only does lack of sleep compromise your immune system, but it can cause weight gain, obesity, and blood pressure issues, which we already know affect the immune system.
Taking The Right Supplements
Finally, if you want to strengthen your immune system so your body can have a more effective response to infection, then you should take daily supplements. Usually, you can get nutrients through food, but it’s not always easy to get the daily recommended amount of vitamins and minerals.
For example, as mentioned before, vitamin c can help boost your immune system by providing your body with a healthy amount of antioxidant protection. Vitamin C strengthens the skin, one of the major organs in the immune system, by boosting its collagen. Vitamin C also promotes the health and production of white blood cells.
Zinc also helps a healthy immune system by protecting and strengthening the cells used in the body’s immune response. Those who suffer from a deficiency of zinc in their body have a reduced immune response to infections.
Your body’s immune response can also benefit from a healthy amount of vitamin D supplementation. It’s not always easy to get healthy vitamin D levels that help reduce the risk of infection in the lungs. Without enough vitamin D, the body has a more challenging time regulating the release of the cytokine response to infections. Too much can cause damage to tissues and other health issues.
Understanding the immune system is the first step towards strengthening it. Taking supplements, getting sleep, cutting unhealthy habits, exercise, and eating the right foods will help you lead a healthier life with a stronger immune system.