How to Strengthen Your Immune System in 4 Simple Steps
Last year left everyone wondering a number of things, including how to strengthen your immune system. In the aftermath of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that everyone wants to know the best way to stay healthy and give our bodies every advantage in the fight against the virus.
But beyond the pandemic, having a strong immune system is important for a number of reasons. It’s essentially our body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders — COVID or otherwise — and is responsible for preventing potentially deadly infections. How? It all has to do with a little something called immune cells.
How Your Immune System Works
Imagine your body is a fort: Your immune cells are the soldiers defending it. There are many different types of immune cells, each with a unique role, that work together to identify, communicate, and carry out their functions. This synchronized defense is activated when the body senses antigens, or foreign substances, in the bloodstream.
B lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, respond by making antibodies that attach to the antigens. These antibodies usually stick around — just in case the same threat returns. This is how, in some cases, vaccines work: They introduce an antigen that prompts the body to make protective antibodies.
Immune cells don’t just live in the bloodstream, however. They occupy different parts of the body, which, in a sense, creates a well-rounded line of defense. Immune cells can be found in the following areas, just to name a few:
Skin: The epidermis not only protects your internal organs, tissues, and everything else inside your body, it also contains immune cells within its layers and possesses the ability to make and secrete antimicrobial proteins.
Lymphatic System: Has your doctor ever checked your lymph nodes when you were sick? That’s because the lymphatic system functions as a communication system of sorts between the body’s tissues and bloodstream, and carries immune cells to your lymph nodes. When you’re sick, they swell up, indicating an active immune response.
Now that you have an idea about how the immune system works, here are a few things you can do to boost your immunity.
Here’s How to Strengthen Your Immune System
While there isn’t a magical pill (although vaccines come close) that can make your immune system all-powerful, there are certain things you can do to give it a fighting chance. Here’s the breakdown.
1. Supplement your diet.
If you forget to put gas in the car, it won’t run — the same goes for your immune system. Without the proper nutrients, our defense system can’t function at optimal levels. According to Harvard Medical School, “There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses in animals, as measured in the test tube.”
As much as we like to think we’re getting everything we need from our diets, that’s not always the case. Enter: The Vitamin Patch. This patch was scientifically formulated to deliver essential vitamins directly through your skin that can ultimately support your health and wellness. Inside, you’ll find:
- Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamin, can speed the generation of energy. What’s more, a thiamin deficiency can affect functions of the cardiovascular, nervous, and of course, the immune system.
- Vitamin B6: The potent antioxidant is essential for cellular function and the “well-being of all living organisms.”
- Vitamin A&D: Important for vision and crucial for immune response, vitamins A and D have also been known to prevent and/or treat both inflammation and autoimmunity.
2. Limit your stress levels.
Stress is a killer — literally. Chronic stress has been linked to six leading causes of death including heart disease, cancer, and suicide, yet it continues to be a major problem for many Americans. Furthermore, stress is known to decrease immune response and suppress the immune system.
So what’s the solution? Whether it’s work, family, or daily life, taking steps to reduce stress can give your immune system the opportunity it needs to bounce back. Scheduling “me time,” practicing mindfulness, establishing a routine, and setting boundaries are all ways to help mitigate stress in your everyday life.
3. Skip the smoking.
Today, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. It’s been linked to various types of cancers, lung diseases, and cardiovascular issues, just to name a few, but it also puts a strain on — you guessed it — the immune system.
Smoking causes an “exacerbation of pathogenic immune responses or attenuation of defensive immunity,” which in other words means it triggers an increased immune response and reduces its function. TL;DR: Quitting smoking will have many health benefits for your body — and therefore, your immune system.
4. Exercise regularly.
If you’re wondering how to strengthen your immune system, consider strengthening your body first. Exercise is key for a healthy immune system as it increases blood flow and circulation, reduces stress and inflammation, and strengthens any lingering antibodies for optimal immune response.
In fact, This study found that 390 people who completed an eight-week exercise routine reduced their risk of acute respiratory illness by 14%. Another study reported that people who exercised for at least 20 minutes a day for five or more days a week had 43% fewer days with upper respiratory tract infection symptoms compared to those who were sedentary.
Just don’t overdue it — too much exercise (i.e. training for long-distance events) can have a negative effect on immunity.
In the end, knowing how to strengthen your immune system can give you an advantage when it comes to your overall health and wellness. By taking care of your nutrition, getting adequate exercise, and avoiding smoking and stress, your body’s first line of defense will be all the more prepared to fight off those nasty intruders.
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