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How to boost your immune system

The human immune system is delicate, there is no size-fits-all, or silver bullet, unfortunately, but in this article, we've outlined some of the best immune boosting tips and tricks to take you into the looming winter season.

You've probably heard the saying "health is wealth." Well, that's definitely true when it comes to your immune system. A healthy immune system is key to keeping you healthy and preventing illness. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of a healthy immune system and some tips on how to keep yours in top shape!

First of all, let's cover some of the basics when it comes to a healthy immune system.

The immune system basics

Essentially, your immune system is your first line of defence, much like a computer has a firewall or antivirus, well humans have the immune system.

Your immune system recognises minute differences and changes in your cells. These changes will then trigger the immune system to send signals to remove any or all potentially damaging substances that could damage them.

With this in mind, it's important to look after the immune system to make sure the immune function and the immune response is in top condition.

Importance of a healthy immune system?

A strong immune system helps us deal with disease causing germs. If you have a poor immune defense, then you can easily catch an infection - think of the common cold! That's the least of your worries- the consequences of a compromised immune system can be serious - even fatal.

The immune system is essentially your first barrier of defence and when viruses and bad bacteria enter the body, your body will try its best to dispatch white blood cells to destroy viruses and other bacterial organisms. Our immune system often overreacts to our own cells or even destroys ours.

Meet your immune system's key players- Immune cells

White blood cells, also called leucocytes, prowl the bloodstream for pathogenic organisms (things that cause disease). White blood cells are immune cells that develop from stem cells in the bone marrow.

If you think you might have a weak immune system, it's important to talk to your doctor. They can help determine the cause and recommend ways to improve your immunity.

What are the signs of a weak immune system?

There are a few key signs that indicate you have poor immune health. If you find yourself frequently getting sick, or taking longer to recover from illnesses, it could be a sign that your it is weak. Additionally, if you have chronic inflammation or allergies, these can also be indicator of a weak immune system.

What can go wrong with your immune system?

There are a few different things that can go wrong with your immune system. If you have an autoimmune disease, it is when your body attacks even the healthy cells. This can happen because of a genetic predisposition or something else. Autoimmune diseases can be very serious and even life-threatening.

Cancer can also affect the immune system. Cancer cells can grow out of control and crowd out healthy cells. This can make it hard for the immune system to fight off infections.

HIV/AIDS will also attack the body's immune system, making it hard to fight off other diseases and infections. If you have a weakened immune system, you may be more likely to get sick or develop complications from minor illnesses.

What causes a weak immune system?

There are many things that can cause a weak immune system. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Having a chronic illness such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer
  • Taking certain medications such as steroids or chemotherapy drugs
  • Getting older
  • Being pregnant
  • Having an autoimmune disorder

A weak immune system can also be caused by lifestyle choices such as:

  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Eating an unhealthy diet
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Immune system and age

Age plays a major role in our immune system health. The immune system does not work as well as it did when we were young. As we age, our immune system becomes less able to fight off infections. This is because the number of white blood cells (the cells that fight infection) decrease in numbers, and the cells also become less active. The thymus gland (which makes white blood cells) also shrinks with age.

Stress and immune function

It's no secret that stress can have a negative effect on our health. Despite the modern-day advances in medicines, stress is still a major factor that many modern techniques have not been successful in tackling. We've all experienced the feeling of being run down and getting sick after a particularly stressful period in our lives. But what exactly is happening inside our bodies when we're stressed?

Stress can have a major impact on our immune system. When we're stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is designed to help us deal with short-term stressors by giving us a burst of energy, such as in fight or flight. This was useful back in the days when we may have a lion infront of us while out hunting, however this is not as common these days. Cortisol is an amazing hormone that has dramatic effects on the body's immune response, it increases heart rate and even completely shuts off the body's "non-essential" functions. However when we're constantly under stress, our bodies can't keep up with the demand for cortisol and our immune system starts to suffer.

The best way to keep your immune system healthy?

The best way to keep your immune system healthy is by maintaining a healthy diet and eating plenty of healthy foods to enhance immunity, such as blueberries and spinach.

Maintaining a healthy weight and minimising stress supports your immune response. This means eating a well balanced diet, regular physical activity and getting adequate sleep of around eight hours. Regular exercise has a huge impact on helping to reduce stress levels and general health, such as blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome has also been linked with boosting immunity.

If you are sick, it is important to rest and drink plenty of fluids. You can also take supplements such as Vitamin C and Rutin to help boost your immune system.

If you want to strengthen your immune system - take note:

Get plenty of sleep

There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows how important sleep is for our overall health and well-being. One of the most important functions of sleep is to allow our bodies to heal and repair itself.

When we are asleep, our immune system works hard to fight off infection and disease.

In fact, studies have shown that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. So, if you want to stay healthy and avoid getting sick, make sure you are getting enough sleep!

There are a few things you can do to make sure you are getting quality sleep- check out our sleep article here.

Exercise regularly to strengthen immunity

Exercise has numerous benefits for our overall health, including boosting our immune system. When we exercise, our bodies produce more white blood cells and antibodies, which help fight off infection. Exercise also helps reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can further help to protect us from illness. So, if you're looking to keep your immune system strong, make sure to get plenty of exercise!

Healthy diet and your immune system

There are a few key things to remember when it comes to eating a healthy diet and your immune system. First, eat a variety of foods to get the most benefits. A diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is best.

Second, limit sugary and fatty foods. These can actually weaken your immune system.

Third, make sure to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated supports communication and biochemical pathways in the immune system. So drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.

Stress

Take steps to reduce stress in your life. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your immune system, so it's important to find ways to relax and de-stress. When we are stressed, our bodies ability to fight off infections is reduced.

Probiotics

As well as a good diet, a well maintained digestive system and healthy gut microbiome are also crucial.

One way to help them is by taking probiotics.. There are many benefits to taking probiotics, and one of those is that they can help keep your immune system healthy. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, and they can be found in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. It's all about keeping your gut bacteria in good shape and providing a supportive environment within your digestive tract. Taking probiotics can help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut, and this can lead to a healthier immune system overall. Probiotics can also help reduce the severity of some illnesses, like colds and diarrhea. So if you're looking for ways to boost your immune system, consider adding some probiotics to your diet.

There are many different types of probiotics available, so it's important to choose one that is right for you. Be sure to talk to a registered dietitian before taking probiotics, so you can be sure you're getting the right kind and the right amount. Probiotics are generally safe, but there are a few side effects that have been reported, such as gas and bloating.


So there it is, our top tips on supporting your immune system. Start by taking one or two ideas to implement them into your daily routine and take it from there!