Keep your immune system strong
By Carrie Dunlea
The immune system is a powerful component of the human body. It recognizes when viruses, bacteria and other foreign invaders enter or compromise the body, and then takes action to prevent illnesses from taking over. The average person can help his or her immune system do its job more effectively by making the immune system as strong as it can be.
Harvard Medical School says that diet, exercise, age, and psychological stress may affect immune system response. Certain lifestyle choices can promote a strong immune system.
• Get adequate sleep. Doctors believe sleep and immunity are closely tied. A study of 164 healthy adults published by the National Institutes of Health found those who slept fewer than six hours each night were more likely to
catch a cold than people who slept for more than six hours. Aim for adequate rest each night to keep your body in top form.
• Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables supply the powerhouse antioxidants that are essential for protecting a body against free radicals. Free radicals may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Serve fruits and/or vegetables with every meal to ensure you’re getting enough antioxidant-rich foods.
• Consume fiber and fermented foods. Fiber can help feed the gut microbiome, which is linked to a robust immune system. The microbiome also may prevent harmful pathogens from entering the body through the digestive tract. Data also suggests that eating more fermented
foods can further strengthen and populate healthy bacteria in the gut.
• Don’t smoke and limit alcohol. Regardless of the type of cigarettes you are smoking (or vaping) nicotine and vapor from e-cigarettes can damage the lungs and make them more susceptible to infection. Alcohol, on the other hand, impairs the body’s ability to attack and break down bacteria and viruses.
• Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, advises the American Heart Association. Thirty minutes of exercise each day can go a long way toward keeping the body healthy. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. These antibodies and white blood cells circulate rapidly, so they may detect illnesses earlier than they would if you do not exercise. Body temperature also rises during exercise, which could naturally prevent bacteria from growing.
• Try to minimize stress. According to Simply Psychology, when people are stressed, or experience a sudden tragic loss, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, making people more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. Limiting stress through meditation and breathing exercises, or trying to remove stressors from one’s life, may help.
A healthy immune system is vital to fending off or recovering from illness.