By Rasheedah Billups
It seems we don’t pay our immune systems much attention until something is coming for it. When there’s no imminent danger we carry on, business as usual while our loyal immune system does what it does, holding us down day in and day out.
No matter where we find ourselves in our wellness journey, we probably understand the basic function of the immune system and the importance of keeping it strong but do we really understand what it is? Let’s get a little better acquainted and understand how we can keep it supported, so it can continue to keep us protected.
What is the immune system exactly?
The immune system is the network of cells and proteins that protect the body from infection (or microbes). The immune system is composed of white blood cells, antibodies, complement system, lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus. In addition other parts of the body work in conjunction with our immune systems to protect the body from infection. Skin, the largest organ, works with the immune system by functioning as a barrier, preventing harmful organisms from entering the body. When a part of the interconnected network is compromised, the chances of infection increases.
What are the benefits of a strong immune system?
The immune system is complex and sometimes it can be challenging to determine what went awry when we get sick. A strong immune system is a balanced one. There’s no one pill or action that results in a strong system. Instead, it’s all of the parts working in sync. It’s a balancing act. When our immune systems are strong we experience long periods of wellness, no colds, no stomach bugs, or host of other illnesses.
How do my choices impact my immune system?
Making healthy choices in all areas of our lives contribute to a stronger immune system. Every healthy choice matters, from maintaining healthy (stress-free) relationships to nourishing our bodies with a diet that supports immune function. Maintaining a balanced immune system at all times is a crucial reason for why wellness matters.
How can I boost my immune system?
Although the immune system is a complex network, there are things you can do to boost your immune system so it can function properly and provide the defense your body needs from day to day.
- Stop mouth breathing. There are two ways oxygen enters the body, through either the mouth or nose. Breathing through the mouth can cause issues for your health, including allowing infection into the body. Breathing through the nose is the better option when possible. Our noses produce nitric oxide which is antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral, and antifungal. Additionally when we breathe through our nose, the nitric oxide causes the blood vessel walls to relax, allowing more oxygen and blood to flow through our bodies.
- Get adequate sleep. During sleep the body repairs itself and prepares for another day. When we don’t get enough sleep the body misses out on the opportunity to repair and prepare and as a result cannot function properly. We then become more susceptible to getting sick, among other things.
- Eat healthy. Consuming nutrient rich foods is essential to your overall health. Transitioning from processed foods to a whole food plant based diet will help to ensure your body receives all of the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function and remain energized. You can also supplement your balanced diet with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin c, zinc, and B6. Consult your doctor or nutritionist to identify where you may have deficiencies and what supplements are best for your needs.
- Drink plenty of water. A majority of the human body is made up of water. Water helps to flush toxins and bacteria from the body and carries oxygen to your cells, ensuring that organs work properly.
- Exercise. Adequate exercise helps to rid the body of toxins and circulate oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body.
A strong immune system is absolutely necessary for our wellbeing. A weakened immune system leaves us vulnerable to illness. Incorporate these basic tips but go further and identify your personal needs. Taking the time to understand our bodies and what we need generally and as individuals is critical to building a wellness plan that will sustain us.
What practices have you incorporated to keep your immune system balanced?