How To Keep Your Immune System Healthy

The immune system is the body’s mechanism of defense against foreign particles and pathogens. Normally it fights infections and illnesses, but if it reacts too strong it can cause disorders like allergies, immunodeficiency and even autoimmune disorders. This is why it has to be balanced.

Brief Overview

The immune system is a complex structure consisting of cells and proteins that have specific functions. It distinguishes the “healthy” and “unhealthy” cells based on molecules that are presented on the cell surface. This is how it recognizes the foreign particles or cells and knows it has to fight them.

Cells that are part of the immune system can be found either in organs like the skin, spleen and thymus, or the bone marrow, bloodstream and lymphatic system.

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There two types of immunity:

  • Innate that occurs immediately and is usually a reaction to viruses, bacteria and fungi. Immune cells involved in this process include neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, monocytes, dendritic cells, and macrophages. They respond quickly and broadly that often leads to infection; and
  • Adaptive that occurs later and works through specialized adaptive immune cells highly specific to a certain pathogen. Immune B and T cells involved in this type of immunity are more specialized and have unique receptors that recognize certain pathogens.

With increased age, the immune system becomes less effective that results in more infections and cancers.

Nutrition For A Healthy Immune System

The process of “boosting” the immune system is scientifically not solid. Since there is a variety of immune cells which ones are you going to focus on? However, there are a few ways keep your immune system healthy:

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  • Maintain a healthy diet by eating properly – a lot of fruits (citruses, kiwi), vegetables (broccoli, spinach), lean protein (poultry) and healthy fats (olive oil, salmon, nuts, chia seeds), as well as garlic, turmeric and ginger.
  • Consume micronutrients like vitamins A, B6, B9 (or folic acid), C, D and E, as well as minerals like zinc, selenium, iron and copper regularly.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain a good circulation and keep your body in overall good health. Moderate exercise can be jogging, stationary bicycling, swimming or light hiking. This will also help in maintaining normal weight.
  • Drink plenty of water to help the immune cells circulate in the body. Water intake should be increased if you exercise regularly or intensely.
  • Get enough sleep so the body can rest and recharge properly.
  • Minimize levels of chronic stress by engaging in activities that relax you. These can be yoga, meditation, mindfulness activities or even cooking and baking.

For a healthy diet and immune system, it is best for the essential nutrients to come from dietary sources. However, when there is lack of them in the body, they can also be consumed as supplements if advised by a medical professional.

 

For more scientific reading refer to

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5091071/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11403834/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/3/818/htm

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/8/1933/htm

 

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