How To Improve Immune System

Do you catch colds and fever very quickly? Though it’s natural, primarily due to changes in weather, to protect oneself from complications due to common colds, boosting the immune system is a must.

By making healthy choices, your body will thank you later! You must be optimistic in helping your body use its full function by making your immune system strong. Like a soldier, our body needs a defense mechanism to fight against health conditions.

But before revealing the appropriate way of boosting the immune system, let’s first discuss the possible complications of having poor immunity.

Effects Of Poor Immune System

Photo credits: Kristine Wook

Healthy individuals who want to maintain their good health should take steps to ensure they keep their immune systems strong and working efficiently. When the immune system is good, it protects the body against infections caused by bacteria and viruses. In the absence of a healthy and active immune system, a person is more susceptible to infections and diseases.

⚕️ Autoimmune diseases

If your immune system is weakened, you’re likely to get sick more frequently from infections such as colds, flu, and gastroenteritis. You may also find it hard to recover from these illnesses. Other people with a weakened immune system may not experience these symptoms but are at greater risk of severe disease and complications from infections.

⚕️ Frequent occurrence of the common cold.

A poor immune system can make you susceptible to the common cold, a viral infection of the nose, throat, and upper airways (1). The common cold is a result of over a hundred different viruses, the most frequent culprit being rhinovirus. Colds are very common in people of all ages and can be easily contracted by those around you. The occurrence of a common cold usually arises about two or three days after vulnerability to the virus and tends to go away on its own within a week.

⚕️ Cancer cells development.

Your immune system will be the first mode of defense against all infections, including cancer. Unfortunately, many people with poor immune systems are more likely to get cancer because their bodies cannot fight it off.

Cancer cells are basically long-living cells that can cause diseases in your body, and they can be destroyed by the immune system. However, when the body is weak and unable to fight it off, these cells can run rampant. While this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get cancer if you have a weak immune system, you’re more at risk for developing it than those who have healthier ones.

⚕️ Slow healing of wounds and bruises.

The immune system is in charge of healing wounds, so a poor immune system does not help you. In fact, it can make you much worse at recovering from wounds. Wounds will still heal eventually if your immune system is weak—it just takes longer than average. For example, minor cuts may take between five and seven days to recover. In comparison, more significant injuries may take ten days to two weeks or even more to heal.

In order to accelerate the alleviation process of bruises and wounds:

  • It is vital to maintain good hygiene when dealing with cuts or injuries.
  • Wash the wound gently with lukewarm water and soap twice daily (morning and night).
  • Do not wash the wound vigorously; instead, be gentle when scrubbing around the area.

⚕️ Infertility in men and women.

You may have also heard that the immune system is vital for conception. An overactive immune system can attack sperm and lead to autoimmune disorders in men. In women, it can cause premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome, as well as miscarriage.

⚕️ Allergens or asthmatic triggers.

People with asthma may experience difficulty breathing when their lungs are constricted by inflammation of the airways. When you come into contact with various asthma triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, or mold, you will be having an allergic reaction, which can lead to an asthma attack.

Allergens trigger the body’s defense system and release antibodies and chemicals like histamine. These antibodies and chemicals help fight off invading allergens but also cause allergic symptoms like swelling of a part of the body (such as the tongue or throat), sneezing, coughing, and itching eyes. Asthma symptoms such as wheezing occur because these same antibodies cause irritation leading to inflammation of the airways.

⚕️ Unable to fight parasitic infections.

Many parasitic infections are transmitted via food, through skin contact with soil or water. They can also even be passed on from mother to child. These parasites cause diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and sometimes intestinal inflammation.

🟢 Food-borne parasites

Some of the common food-borne parasites include Amoeba or Giardia lamblia, which is contracted through contaminated water, and the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which can be found in undercooked meat.

🟢 Skin parasites

Skin parasites such as scabies mites can be contracted by coming into contact with someone who has been infected with the mite.

🟢 Parasitic worms

Parasitic worms such as hookworm, roundworm, and pinworm can enter your body if you unknowingly walk barefoot on contaminated soil. The eggs of these worms can also spread by accidentally swallowing them from dirty hands or other objects. Individuals with a weakened immune system have higher chances of contracting a parasitic infection due to their compromised ability to fight off the invading germs and pathogens.

Habits For A Stronger Immunity

💪 Enough sleep

For an immune system that’s on point, you need to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. That’s the bare minimum for a healthy immune system. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can cause inflammation in your body, and this makes your body more vulnerable to infection and sickness.

To make sure you’re getting enough sleep:

  • Make sure you don’t drink alcohol or caffeine near bedtime
  • Don’t eat late at night
  • Avoid screens before bedtime (that includes your phone and TV)

💪 Avoid smoking

avoid smoking to have stronger immune system

Smoking makes it hard for the lungs to do their job, which is to move oxygen into the bloodstream. The smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes damages cilia (tiny hair-like structures) that keep the lungs clear by sweeping away mucus.

Not only does smoking cigarettes damage your lungs, but it also affects your body’s ability to fight infections. When you inhale the smoke from a cigarette, you breathe in toxic chemicals that affect your immune defense system and make your body more likely to get sick.

💪 Change in diet

Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that a person who eats more fruits and vegetables has better health and a lower risk of disease than those who don’t include as many guilt-free foods in their diets. Though it’s best to eat them fresh if seasonal produce is unavailable, frozen or canned versions are also healthy choices. If you do go the canned route, be sure to look for low-sodium options so that you don’t consume too much salt.

💪 Daily exercise

Physical activity is essential for your immune system. Being active reduces inflammation, helps circulate cells that fight infection and releases endorphins that make you feel happy. In fact, even moderate exercise can help activate T-cells (a type of white blood cell) to better combat viruses.

Other benefits of exercise include:

🟢 Strengthening your heart. 

Your heart is majority composed of a muscle, so it’s essential to keep it as healthy as possible to maintain good circulation and avoid problems such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). Heart disease is a significant cause of disability and death in the U.S. However, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing heart disease by up to 82%.

🟢 Improving sleep quality. 

Sleep deprivation can have numerous adverse effects on health. And insufficiency of physical activity can lead to poor sleep quality due to insufficient levels of melatonin which is a hormone important in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. As little as 10 minutes per day can help significantly improve both duration and quality of sleep: so try not to skimp on this one!

🟢 Maintaining weight loss or preventing weight gain. 

Physical activity helps you burn more calories than sedentary activities like watching TV or using the computer. By burning more calories every day, you’ll be able to keep your body at its ideal weight without having to starve yourself during meals or do hours’ worth of crunches each night before bedtime.

💪 Alcohol intake

Consume alcohol in moderation. While there are exceptions (and most studies don’t show significant effects until very high intake), alcohol is one of the most complained about and well-documented impairments to the immune system. The impact of alcohol on the immune system is related to dose: more than one alcoholic drink per day can impair your health.

💪 Hydration

While it may seem like a no-brainer, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids is a crucial way to keep your body defense strong and healthy. Water helps flush out bacteria and viruses, which can prevent you from getting sick.

The typical way to stay hydrated is to drink plain and clean water. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics (or induce urination) and will dehydrate you. If you do consume alcohol or caffeine, make sure to also drink a tall glass of water for every cup of flavored liquid that you have.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids when exercising or when you’re involved in any physical activity that makes you sweat a lot, even if it isn’t particularly hot outside. If the weather is hot or humid, increase your fluid intake accordingly.

Drinking plenty of water will also help in the prevention of constipation, which often happens when your body isn’t getting enough fluids and fiber. It can also help suppress kidney stones from forming as well as help remove them once they start forming by diluting the salts and minerals in urine that form these stones.

Vitamins And Minerals For Strong Immune System

vitamins for immune system

Whenever you get sick, there is a reason behind it. In fact, your immune system has been compromised, allowing germs and infections to enter your body. This happens because of various reasons like poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, etc. However, the good news is that you can regularly maintain a healthy immune system by taking vitamins and minerals. 

💊 Vitamin A

One vitamin that is exceptionally essential for boosting immunity is Vitamin A. This vitamin promotes the normal functioning of the immune system and helps fight infections as well as diseases. The inadequacy of this vitamin in the body reduces resistance to infections by damaging white blood cells and other components of the immune system.

Vitamin A also enhances vision in dim light besides maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes along with healthy nervous system functions. It also plays a vital part in gene transcription (a process where information from DNA is used to form proteins), which in turn regulates cell differentiation that helps prevent cancerous growths in the body.

Lastly, vitamin A prevents age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease caused due to deterioration of the eye’s retina leading to loss of central vision required for activities like reading or driving.

💊 B-complex vitamins

B-complex vitamins are essential for a healthy nervous system and proper brain functioning. These vitamins are also commonly found in green leafy vegetables, so if you have plenty of spinach and kale in your diet, you probably don’t need to take any extra supplements. 

But if you know that leafy greens aren’t your forte, B-complex vitamin supplements are an excellent way to make sure that you get all of these nutrients. Essential B-complex vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), biotin, and folate.

💊 Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential to your optimal health. It is one of the water-soluble vitamins that also acts as an antioxidant. It helps enhance your immune system and fight off infections. Vitamin C also helps in the formation of collagen, which is vital for wound healing. Furthermore, it plays a role in the absorption of iron and the metabolism of cholesterol and fats.

It’s best to acquire vitamin C from foods than supplements. Fresh vegetables are rich sources of this vitamin, like:

  • Peppers – red, yellow, and green peppers (sweet) have about three times more vitamin C compared to oranges;
  • Broccoli – a cup of this contains more than 100 percent of your daily diet requirement;
  • Brussels sprouts – one cup contains over 130 percent of the daily food requirement;
  • Kale – one cup contains 134 percent of your daily requirement.

💊 Vitamin D

milk for immune system

It’s important to get some sunshine now and then to boost your vitamin D levels. But you don’t have to go outside to up your intake. There are plenty of foods rich in this nutrient, such as eggs, fish such as salmon and tuna, fortified milk, cereals, and orange juice, that come with a lower risk of sunburn.

Although many people think of vitamin D as an essential bone health vitamin (which is actually right), this micronutrient also supports immune system function. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which helps build strong bones. This can help prevent osteoporosis or having brittle bones later in life. 

If you’re asking how much vitamin D is enough for healthy immune system support, remember this: aim for 600 IU daily starting at age 1-year-old through adulthood. Keep in mind that most people will need supplements throughout the year because their diet alone won’t get them enough vitamin D.

💊 Vitamin E

You can get vitamin E from daily foods, such as leafy green vegetables and nuts. What it does for you is that Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may help to protect cells from damage. It also plays a role in enhancing the immune system and keeping skin healthy.

How much vitamin E do you need? As mentioned, most people get enough vitamin E in their diets. However, people who have digestive problems or who follow special diets may not get enough of this vitamin. Also, smokers, older adults, and people with cystic fibrosis may need extra vitamin E. But the recommended dose of vitamin E is 15 mg (22 IU) daily for adults and children ages 14 and up.

💊 Zinc

Zinc is a nutritionally essential element found in every cell. This is because it is involved in the creation of proteins, enzymes, and hormones. It helps wounds heal and contributes to DNA synthesis and cell division. For this reason, zinc is often marketed to support healthy immune function.

Also, it plays a critical role in the production of white blood cells and antibodies that help fight infections. As part of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, it also participates in breaking down free radicals that are generated during infection and inflammation, which can cause tissue damage if not contained.

Bottom Line

There are plenty of natural remedies to be found that can have a positive influence on your immune system. But the best way to ensure stronger immunity is to do regular exercises, eat healthy food, and find a healthy balance in your work and rest. By simply following these basic steps, you will be able to better guard against catching colds or the flu, or if you do catch one, it won’t be nearly as severe!

If you have difficulty changing your bad habits into good ones, click this link to know what to do and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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