7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System and Stay Safe from Diseases
Your body is the only place you’ve got to live, survive, and thrive. It consists of complex systems—such as the immune system, an integrated network of organs, blood cells, and other biomolecules. Together they work symbiotically to prevent foreign substances from entering your body and keeping it healthy. And even if pathogens like bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms get past the immune system’s defenses, it can still drive out the pathogens and kill them. Additionally, your body’s cells, such as cancer cells, can turn rogue, and a robust immune system helps minimize its complications.
Researchers are still trying to understand the intricacies of the immune system and how host factors influence it. Recent studies have shed light on how to boost its responses, and these have helped us outline ways to strengthen immunity and avoid disease invasion. Here, we outline seven scientifically proven methods to boost your immune system, prevent diseases, and keep you healthy.
1. Eat the right food groups
To strengthen your immune system, you must provide it with all essential nutrients in various food groups. These stimulate the growth of white blood cells and other components, which help in wading off diseases. Unfortunately, many people shift to healthy diets after experiencing disease symptoms and becoming sick. But by this point, chronic illnesses like cancer have already caused too much damage, making recovery even more complicated. Therefore, doctors recommend implanting a healthy lifestyle early, even when you don’t feel ill. With the right nutrients building up your immune system, a quick recovery from any disease is well-warranted.
Nonetheless, taking necessary measure after diagnosis is also beneficial. For example, a person diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, should focus on consuming a well-balanced diet to support their immune system. Including foods high in zinc, iron, and protein, such as leafy greens, lean meats, and nuts, can help strengthen the body’s defense against disease. However, it’s important to note that a healthy diet alone may not prevent or cure mesothelioma, as it is a chronic illness caused by exposure to a toxic substance. That being said, a nutritious diet can still play a role in managing symptoms, improving overall health, and potentially slowing the progression of the disease.
2. Add probiotics and prebiotics to your diet
Probiotics refer to specific food items that contain live microorganisms meant to improve and maintain your body’s microflora. You can generally intake them as yogurt and sauerkraut. Prebiotics, on the other hand, provide food for this microflora, maintaining a healthy microenvironment in the body. These are in garlic, whole grains, soybeans, and onions, among other foods.
Both prebiotics and probiotics enhance the function of immune cells by activating their signals and making them more likely to catch foreign particles. It helps your body fight viruses and bacteria and protect against certain cancers. They also help keep your gut healthy by stimulating the production of mucus, enzymes, and other substances that keep your intestines functioning properly.
3. Stay hydrated
Mucus membranes, skin, and their secretions are part of the first line of defense when fighting off an infection. The entry points for most pathogens, like eyes, mouth, and nose, are lined by these mucus membranes. Drinking water and staying hydrated keeps them moist and allows them to trap any invading substance that tries to enter the body.
Besides this, your water intake also influences the flow of lymphatic fluid throughout your body. Lymphatic fluid is a clear, colorless liquid that contains white blood cells, fat, and protein. It travels throughout the body in lymphatic vessels, carrying immune cells to where they are needed. Without enough water to move through these channels, your immune system can’t function properly.
The National Academy of Medicine recommends drinking 13 and 9 cups for healthy males and females. However, this amount may vary depending on your climate, your regular physical exertion, and your body’s needs.
4. Take your vitamins
Adequate intake of vitamins A, C, D, folic acid, and E is critical for the optimal functioning of the immune system. Most of these act as antioxidants, which trap and destroy molecules that can damage cells and tissues. Foods rich in these vitamins include strawberries, almonds, citrus fruits, salmon, and avocados.
You can likely fulfill your body’s vitamin requirements by eating a well-balanced and healthy diet. However, if you’re deficient in any vitamin, you can consult your doctor and receive a prescription for supplements.
5. Stay updated with your vaccines
While natural and innate immunity can protect your body from certain diseases, getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to boost its responses. Scientists design vaccines to target and kill pathogens that invade the body and cause infections without causing any harm to the host. These act as “reminders” for your immune system to recognize and eliminate disease-causing molecules before they can trigger an ailment.
Besides keeping your body from getting sick, vaccines also protect others around you who can’t get vaccinated. They break the transmission cycle, and their discovery has attributed to a reduction of significant diseases, including polio, rubella, diphtheria, and tetanus.
6. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise benefits all aspects of an individual’s health, and boosting immunity is one of them. The physical exertion of any kind aids in improving the immune system function by increasing blood flow through the body. This increases the amount of oxygen delivered to cells, which makes them more active and able to fight off viruses and bacteria. Exercise also promotes the production of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that can kill virus-infected cells and destroy tumors.
More importantly, routine workouts can also help the body manage stress. And since studies show phycological and physical stress adversely affect immune responses, reducing it can significantly speed up recovery.
7. Get proper sleep
Sufficient hours of restful and deep sleep can help boost your immune responses. When your body is resting, it repairs itself and produces immune cells that fight infections. Although researchers are still trying to understand this phenomenon, some believe that muscle relaxation and slowed breathing during sleeping frees up energy for proper immune system functioning. A study also showed that while you’re sleeping, the body produces a hormone called melatonin which can help reduce inflammation—a prominent hallmark of any infection.
Lack of sleep can also drive the body into overstress, making it less effective in thwarting viruses and bacteria. Therefore, a proper sleep schedule is crucial to ensure your immune system works with complete adequacy. Health professionals recommend seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep for healthy adults.
Your immune system is in constant motion even when you’re not feeling sick. From wiping out viral and bacterial infections to destroying cancer cells, its regular functioning ensures the body rids of disease before you start feeling it. And so, to keep it from tiring out, follow these tips above to boost your immune responses and minimize the risk of getting ill again.
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