Immune system is your body’s first line of defense against illness. In the same way that a security system around your house would provide protection, your immune system uses a system of chemicals and proteins in your body to fight off viruses, harmful bacteria, infections and parasites. A stronger immune system means less chance of you getting sick. For the best performance, you want every instrument and every musician in the orchestra to perform at its best. You don’t necessarily want one musician performing on double speed or one instrument suddenly producing sound at twice the volume it usually does. You want every component of that orchestra to perform exactly according to plan.
Your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations? Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response. To best protect your body from harm, every component of your immune system needs to perform exactly according to plan. The best way you can ensure that happens is to practice the good-for-you behaviors every day that your immune system runs on. Here are seven key ones.
Healthy Diet The nutrients you get from food — in particular, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices — are essential to keeping your immune system functioning properly, according to Yufang Lin, MD, an integrative medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Many plant-based foods also have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which help us fight off infection. immune system army marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. Scientists have long recognized that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. For example, researchers don’t know whether any particular dietary factors, such as processed foods or high simple sugar intake, will have adversely affect immune function. There are still relatively few studies of the effects of nutrition on the immune system of humans.
Stress Control Long-term stress leads to chronically elevated levels of as the steroid hormone cortisol. The body relies on hormones like cortisol during short-term bouts of stress (when your body goes into “fight-or-flight” response); cortisol has a beneficial effect of actually preventing the immune system from responding before the stressful event is over (so your body can react to the immediate stressor). But when cortisol levels are constantly high, it essentially blocks the immune system from kicking into gear and doing its job to protect the body against potential threats from germs like viruses and bacteria.
Vitamins Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting cell function and protecting against environmental oxidative stress (free radicals and pollutants). The best way to get Vitamin C is through oranges, strawberries, spinach, kiwi and grapefruit. Vitamin D can enhance your immune response and may protect you from respiratory conditions. It’s often called “the sunshine vitamin” because sunlight is a great source, however this depends on your skin’s melanin level. Only 10 minutes of sun exposure daily produces plenty of vitamin D for fair-skinned individuals. No more or you are susceptible to skin cancer. Those with dark brown skin tones who never burn would be better off taking a vitamin D supplement. The Cleveland Clinic also recommends Vitamin B6 (found in chicken, cold water fish like salmon and tuna, hummus and green veggies) and Vitamin E.