The immune system is a complex structure that consists of the blood, skin, bone marrow, tissue, and vital organs. All these components play an active part in protecting your body against diseases and preventing non-infectious agents such as sunburn from damaging your body. For your immune system to continue taking care of you, you have to put in the work and practice good behaviors that promote a healthy immune system. Here are some helpful hacks to boost your immunity and stay healthy:
For starters, inculcate best hygiene practices such as washing your hands into your daily routine. They are basic practices but they can boost your immunity by minimizing the spread of germs and reducing your exposure to pathogens. In the age of the pandemic, ensure you carry a small hand sanitizer with you wherever you go, just in case you come into contact with contaminated surfaces such as countertops and door handles. However, if you have sweaty and greasy hands, you should wash your hands with soap and water.
Sleep allows your body to generate vital molecules and immune cells to heal damaged cells and promote a healthy immune response. Examples of these immune cells and molecules include T cells, interleukin 12, and cytokines. T cells are a type of white blood cells that regulate your immune response; cytokines are a type of protein that can either promote or fight inflammation and interleukin 12 is a type of cytokine that promotes inflammatory reactions. Sleep deprivation leads to the production of cortisol in your body, which is detrimental to your immune system. So, ensure you get adequate sleep so that your body is better positioned to ward off pathogens and diseases.
When you drink too much alcohol, your body will be too busy detoxifying your system to carry out normal immune system functions. Excessive alcohol lowers B and T cells that are responsible for fighting infections and diseases in the body. The recommended alcohol consumption for a man is about eight ounces and four ounces for a woman.
Chemicals in cigarette smoke inhibit the growth and function of immune cells in the body. Smoking also makes you susceptible to viral and bacterial infections of the lungs and joints and increases the likelihood of post-surgical infections. Avoid being in a position where you are inhaling secondhand smoke.
Dehydration harms your mood, concentration and general physical performance. It also prevents your kidney and heart from functioning normally. Of course, we all know that experts recommend drinking at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your body hydrated. But you can add water-rich foods you’re your diet to supplement your intake. Remember to avoid fluids that are too sugary. They tend to suppress your white blood cells leaving your body defenseless from the attack of harmful bacteria.
Consuming a healthy diet is key to a healthy immune system. Plant-based foods such as fruits, herbs, and spices contain antiviral and antibacterial properties that help the body fight off infections. Examples of spices that boost your immunity include turmeric, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, and clove. For example, it has been found that one of the most popular turmeric uses the reduction of the levels of inflammation in your body. Cinnamon, thyme, and clove inhibit the growth of harmful fungi and microorganisms resistant to antibiotics. Ensure you eat foods rich in zinc, copper, vitamins A, C, E, B6, and B12, and selenium that play an active role in supporting the immune system.
Long-term stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These stress hormones allow your body to react to immediate stressors. Your body needs hormones like cortisol during short-term incidents of stress, such as a fight-or-flight response, so that you can respond quickly.
However, when you are in a state of constant high stress, elevated cortisol levels prevent your immune system from functioning properly, leaving you at the mercy of diseases and viruses. Engage in activities that calm you down, such as learning a new skill, swimming, or journaling. Ensure you laugh more often as this improves natural killer cell activity, leading to the elimination of infected cells and increased resistance to diseases. Nurture your social and romantic relationships as social support leads to reduced levels of stress.
Regular physical activity leads to the production of endorphins that reduce stress and improve the immune response. A recent study revealed that working out reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and viral and bacterial infections.
After a workout session, the immune system becomes more vigilant in looking for and supplying immune cells to damaged areas of the body, leading to healing and restoration on a cellular level. It is advisable to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week.
Living with a chronic condition makes it harder for you to recover when you get sick. Learn how to manage chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart diseases so that your body is better equipped to fight infections. Managing chronic conditions includes regular visits to the doctor, keeping up with medication, and healthy habits that suppress symptoms.
Your body has a two-week waiting window to begin attacking harmful pathogens. This waiting period is too long for young infants and older people, who have weaker immune systems. Vaccination against common infections allows your body to interact with small doses of a virus or disease in a controlled environment.
Vaccination leads to the generation of memory immune cells. These immune cells allow your body to generate antibodies that prevent the virus in the vaccine from reproducing and causing an infection. If you get infected, later on, your body develops an anamnestic response, meaning that your immune system will alert the memory immune cells to fight the infection. If advised, ensure you get booster shots as both the antibodies and memory immune cells die with time.
Being healthy is not the same as not being sick. You have to make a deliberate effort each day to change bad habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle to boost your immune system. Now more than ever, your immune system needs to be supercharged to protect you from common diseases.
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