The immune system is your body’s natural defense system. It protects you from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can harm your health, and works tirelessly to protect and repair your body from infection and injury.
What Makes Up the Immune System?
The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals that fight infection (microbes). The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. These are the parts of your immune system that actively fight infection. The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.
What Does the Immune System Do?
Your immune system recognizes the cells that make up your body, and will try to get rid of anything that is foreign or unfamiliar. It destroys germs (bacteria and viruses) and parasites, and works constantly to protect your body’s health. The body is bombarded daily by pollution, chemicals, bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. The immune system is what protects your body from these harmful invaders and helps you stay healthy.
What Weakens the Immune System?
While the immune system is the body’s innate defense system, it needs our support to work effectively. If we do not support our immune system with healthy dietary and lifestyle practices, it cannot do its job. Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of rest, unhealthy organisms in the gut, harmful medications, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unhealthy environments, stress, depression, anxiety—all of these can lead to a weekend immune system, and thus make the body more susceptible to illness.
How Can We Keep the Immune System Strong & Healthy?
The foundational methods of keeping your immune system strong and healthy include:
Nutrition is key when it comes to keeping your body healthy. It is important to focus on eating whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, seeds, nuts, sprouts, grains, legumes, etc. Food in its natural state is so much healthier for our bodies than foods that have been extensively processed and filled with chemicals and preservatives. If possible, strive to eat organic, local and seasonal foods as they are the freshest and most nutritious food sources. Equally important, avoid foods that contain chemicals and pesticides that are toxic to your health. Be diligent about knowing what is in the food you are eating, and do your best not to feed your body toxins. If you put garbage in, you will get garbage out—it is as simple as that!
All of the body’s processes depend upon water to function. Most people do not drink nearly enough water to keep their body’s hydrated and in good health. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food (about 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food). Do your best to stay hydrated if you wish to keep your immune system healthy.
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold or flu. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover when you do get sick.
During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins help promote sleep, and certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective proteins. Additionally, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods of sleep deprivation.
Exercise is essential to health, including immune system health. The practice of physical exercises acts as a modulator of the immune system. During and after physical exercise, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are released, blood and lymphocyte circulation increases, bacteria is flushed out of the lungs and airways, and there are also changes in antibodies and white blood cells, which are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease.
5. Lower Stress Levels
Research shows that stress lowers immune system function. People under stress have been observed to have fewer natural killer cells, which fight tumors and viral infections. They also appear to stop producing immunity-boosting gamma interferon and infection-fighting T-cells. Stress can have many negative effects on the body, and chronic ongoing stress especially can reduce immune system health. To keep the immune system strong, it is important to find ways to lower stress levels.
One of the greatest causes of illness is toxic build up in the body. Every day we are exposed to numerous toxins in our food, air, water, environment and in the products that we use. Over time, the accumulation of these toxins can cause serious damage to our health. It’s important to regularly detox the body from built up toxins to keep the body in good health.
Traditional wellness modalities have always promoted the importance of detoxification for health, and now herbal supplement companies like Zuma Nutrition make it easier than ever to detoxify the body naturally. It is important to detox in an intelligent way, doing so intentionally a few times a year, rather than over-detoxifying the body and neglecting nutrition. It is also very important that after a detox cleanse we focus on rebuilding our health with high quality nutrients from food and supplements. One particular area of detoxification that directly benefits the immune system is parasites. Consider doing a parasite detox cleanse every few months to help support immune system function and gut health.
As you can see, taking care of the immune system is pretty simple. It requires that we take care of our overall health with our daily dietary and lifestyle practices. Eating healthy, staying hydrated, sleeping well, exercising often, reducing stress, and regularly detoxing are all ways to keep the body and immune system strong. Unfortunately, so few people actually follow these basic self-care practices in the ways that are really needed for good health.
Reflect on your own dietary and lifestyle practices and see if there is room for improvement in any of these areas. Can you eat better? Are you drinking enough water? Do you get enough rest? Your health and well-being starts with you and the choices you make each day. Start focusing on those actions that improve your physical and mental well-being, and your immune system will naturally thrive to support you and keep you in good health.