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How Can I Boost My Immune System

Dr in white coat holding bottles in cupped hands

We are living in dangerous times with epidemic after epidemic and now the Covid19 pandemic re-shaping our world and lifestyles the question “how can I boost my immune system?” presents as the most urgent. While we wait for science to come up with a cure and a vaccine we are left to wonder what precautions can be taken in addition to isolation.

With news of this disease effecting people in a vastly different ways from mild symptoms all the way through to fatalities can there be something our immune systems can do to protect us?  Clearly this is something that can only be answered by medical professionals, but as a worried citizen I believe it’s our duty to give ourselves the best possible chance of beating any infection. That’s why for the purpose of this article we will assume a strong immune system can help fight off this cruel killer while we wait for a chemical cure.

How The Immune System Works

scientist looking into microscope

The immune system is a complicated set make up of different cells and organs, put simply it works like this.

White bloods cells or(Leukocytes)play a major role of disease prevention and fighting off any diseases present. Grouped into two main varieties phagocytes and lymphocytes, the phagocytes attack and destroy foreign bodies, and the lymphocytes subsequently remember those invaders and standby ready to repel borders against them should attempt to attack again.

Drilling down further, phagocytes are broken down into further groups for example one type of phagocyte called neutrophil fights bacteria. If a bacterial blood test is ordered the results will show an elevated number of neutrophil in the blood.

The lymphocytes type B and T both start in the bone marrow, one matures in the the marrow to become the B variety while the second moves to the thymus gland to mature into T cells. The B lymphocytes cells behave like the CIA seeking out targets and sending in assets to deal with the threat. It’s the T cells that are the assets sent in to destroy invading cells.

When the body is under attack the B lymphocytes are triggered to make antibodies which are proteins designed to lock on to the foreign invaders or ‘antigens’and destroy them.

After the antibodies have completed their task they will remain in the blood stream on standby in case of further infection. This is exactly the same process using in vaccines which are basically a infect the body with a survivable dose of an infection that will force the body to make antibodies making that person immune.

So, antibodies lock on or tag the ‘antigens’ but they require help in destroying them with the help of T cells to move in for the kill.

The Antibodies protect us from toxins and activate proteins called ‘Complements’ which are the proteins that kill bacteria, virus and other infected cells. These cells offer our bodies immunity that come in three forms known as Passive, Innate and Adaptive.

Passive immunity is something taken or borrowed from another such as being exposed to an Antigen and generating antibodies.

Innate is the immunity every human is born with allowing the body to fight off general inventions.

Adaptive refers to immunity that we develop over time as we are exposed to disease or immunized against disease with vaccine.

Symptoms Of A Weak Immune System

Medic talking to sick woman

While the Immune System is working correctly and while it’s not under attack from a new and aggressive invader we will experience no unusual effects. That can change however, if we have a weak or compromised system.

There are certain disorders that can effect the immune system negatively leaving it in a weakened state with defenses down, increasing the possibility of illness. In this situation Immunodeficiency disorder symptoms can vary from mild where the person is unaware of any problem to severe.

The primary symptom of an immunodeficiency disorder would be frequent infections as the system struggles to fight off illness that healthy people would not usually suffer from. These include conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis, bronchitis, skin infections blood disorders such as anemia digestive issues, including loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.

Effects Of A Weak Immune System

young girl in hospital bed

The effects of immunodeficiency disorder could cause inconvenience of regular colds and hay fever but equally it can lead more serious health risks. The really serious health risks from immunodeficiency disorder range from HIV and AIDS, viral hepatitis to some cancers like leukemia.

A person can born with an immunodeficiency disorder, called primary immunodeficiency disorders or inherit it which is called acquired (or secondary) immunodeficiency disorder, either way the disorder weakens the body’s ability fight off infection.

It’s important for us all to be aware of our immune system health, supporting it through healthy living because as we age our system can become weaker. Some of the areas of our immune system can be damaged throughout our lives are;

– your skin

– your bone marrow

– your white blood cells

– your spleen

– your tonsils

– your lymph nodes

– your endocrine system (hormones)

Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System

woman doing yoga

The first thing is to practice the basics to boost your immune system and these are very simple things to do. Poor nutrition will impair your ability to fight off illness, so while eating fruit isn’t going to stop you getting Covid19, if you’re not a regular consumer of fruit and veg this is a great time to start

Avoid processed foods and sugars because these are linked to chronic health issues so stock up on fruit, veg, fish, and white meats. Taking large amounts of vitamins is not going to improve your health and could be detrimental to it, so always research before taking supplements.

With the warnings out of the way there is a vitamin that is an exception to the rule. Vitamin D in moderation can be really helpful. A dose of D is not likely to protect you from Covid19 if you re exposed but your immune system needs D to help fight and make recovery easier. You can take it as a supplement, take some sun, or eat fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel for example.

Although the number of hours seems excessive, sleeping 7-9 hours a night is recommended by Harvard Health, if it’s possible as one night of disturbed sleep can reduce your immune cells by as much as 70%.

As always regular exercise reduces inflammation and supports infection-fighting cells as well as releasing endorphins into the blood stream.  The next one is a common form of advise, if you drink then cut this down as heavy drinking can impair the immune system and the body’s ability to heal itself,.

If you are not already practicing 20 second hand wash with soap and water of hand cleaners, then get into the habit now.

Decreasing stress should be the aim of everyone whether that is through CBT, Hypnotherapy or some of these others brilliant ideas;

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Massages
  • Spending time pursuing hobbies
  • Companion Animal

Consider Taking Supplements

In addition to Vitamin D mentioned previously there are some other vitamins and minerals that affect the immune system. For example, someone with vitamin C, A, D, Iron, Zinc, or Iron deficiency can suffer from a weakened immunity system. The point is, don’t think of them as a magic bullet because they are not. These should be taken as instructed and only considered part of a health and balanced diet and lifestyle.

The Take Away

Our immune system is a complex system that needs looking after. If you or anyone you know is having frequent infections it could be a sign of a weak immune system and you should seek medial advise as soon as is convenient.

Meanwhile, anyone who believes they could be suffering from immunodeficiency disorder can take action as outline in this article, such as behavioral and dietary changes , plus the possible supplement to boost the immune system.

 

If this was helpful or interesting please share with others who may benefit from this post. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop me a line.

Thanks for visiting. See you next time.

 

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