Our immune system is our body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders. It is our body’s natural defense and, without it, we wouldn’t stand a chance against microorganisms such as fungus, viruses, parasites and bacteria.
These pesky, health destroying intruders hide out everywhere and it is our immune system working around the clock that sets up protective barriers preventing them from entering our body.
Should one sneak by, our immune system has a back-up plan that kicks in and sends out an array of chemicals and proteins along with a host of white blood cells, all seeking to find and attack the foreign antigen before it has time to reproduce.
A strong immune system helps keep all health problems at bay from dangerous diseases to common colds. When working at peak performance, it recognizes and responds to millions of antigens producing what’s needed to eradicate them.
Dr. Bruce Polsky MD, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in N.Y. states, “we are endowed with a great immune system designed to evolutionarily keep us healthy.”
However, when we continually engage in unhealthy habits/lifestyles we weaken our immune system. These dangerous actions open the door to foreign invaders and the end result is, we get sick.
Simple healthy tactics such as washing our hands often and avoiding close contact with those affected with illness are obvious solutions we can employ that help keep us from getting sick.
Taking a pro-active stance to boost our immune system is the other.
Here’s a few tips that help keep the immune system humming in tip-top shape:
Nutrient dense diet –
Vegetables, fruits and other plants contain natural substances known as phytochemicals (natural compounds found in plants) that give them their color and flavor. These phytochemicals act as powerful antioxidants neutralizing free radicals before they can create damage. They also serve as soldiers, supporting the immune system and the death of damaged cells, protecting the body from damage and creating new healthy cells.
All illnesses, diseases and infections are harder to ward off if the body is lacking nutrients/malnourished. It’s best to choose and enjoy foods from all food groups including some protein with every meal and snack.
Proper Exercise –
The immune system is very responsive to exercise. After diet, it is one of the pillars that contribute to overall great health and strong immunity. It activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, making us feel better and more energetic.
It kicks our circulation in, reduces anxiety and stress, slows the aging process, helping us to live longer and better.
Recent studies performed at the University of California-San Diego; School of Medicine revealed that 20 minutes of exercise provides our body with anti-inflammatory effects that, in turn, boost immunity.
Reduce and avoid stress –
Our state of mind does affect our health. Long-term, chronic stress increases the chance of illness because it depresses the immune system. This type of emotional and mental wear and tear ravages our immunity and our health.
Deep breathing, meditation and exercise all help to reduce the effects of chronic stress.
Adopt a Healthy Attitude –
Although we cannot control all events in our lives, we can control our feeling/attitude/response towards them. A positive, good attitude (seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty), expressing gratitude every day in all situations works to strengthen our immune system and increases all chances for a positive outcome.
Laughter heals –
Laughter is powerful, more than we realize. It boosts our immunity because it is empowered to decrease our stress hormones, increase infection fighting antibodies and trigger the release of “happy” endorphins.
As a health bonus, it also works our abs, lowers our blood pressure, improves cardiac health and boosts our T-cells. It truly is “the best medicine.”
According to Dr. Lee Berk, PH, Pro Loma Linda School of Medicine, “The best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope.” Laugh often, it’s free for everyone.
Quality Sleep –
Sleep is a major component towards being healthy. It’s the downtime the body uses to rebuild and restore. Lack of it results in a weak immune system for a variety of reasons. One major issue is that less cytokines are produced. Cytokines are proteins released during sleep that target infection and inflammation creating an immune response.
Ongoing studies prove that those suffering from chronic sleep loss are more likely to get sick after exposure to viruses.
If your sleep cycle is interrupted and your schedule allows, try making up the loss with a nap. Two naps daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (no longer than 30 minutes duration) decreases stress and offsets any negative effects created by sleep deprivation on the immune system.
Step into the Sun –
The sun/natural sunlight is the body’s major provider of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body produce antibodies which in turn, boost the healthy functioning of our immune system.
For example, one major reason for respiratory issues is low levels of vitamin D. A simple fresh air walk in the sunlight of approximately 20-30 minutes helps ensure enough Vitamin D is produced by the body.
Fresh air and sunshine help heal us.
A strong immune system doesn’t make us invincible but throws the odds in our favor. Therefore, our first line of defense against life’s many health challenges is a healthy lifestyle.
Our immune system gets a true boost when we adopt an “attitude of gratitude,” don our fitness gear, enjoy and share many good belly laughs and focus on healthy foods!
It’s a true warrior when it comes to decreasing our chances of falling ill and provides the extra strength needed to fight any invader that finds its way through. It’s a good thing.