How to boost your immune system
In general, you do not need to think about your immune system. The work of your immune system is something that just happens, and by and large, it is extremely effective. The immune system is automatic.
Germs, bacteria, viruses make their way into your body, and your immune system simply takes care of them. Our bodies have what amounts to a microscopic army that attacks anything that enters the body that should not be there.
And we know when our immune system is doing its job. Things like swelling are signs that the immune system is working as the body forms a response to things that have gone wrong. When an infection sets in, there are external signs that the immune system is fighting that infection.
However, we know when our immune system is weakened, and the results can be devastating. Especially as we head into colder months when we are closed in together, it makes sense to think about your immune system.
Are there ways we can boost our immune system? How do we boost the immune system? How do things like diet and stress affect the immune system? This guide will explain the workings of the immune system and how you can boost your immune system.
What is our immune system?
The immune system consists of organs, cells, and chemicals that fight infection. The primary parts of the immune system are white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system (which assists antibodies), the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and bone marrow.
The immune system keeps a “memory” of every type of infection it has ever encountered. This is stored in specific types of white blood cells called B and T lymphocytes. This means that any time the body comes in contact with these microbes, the white blood cells can quickly and easily destroy them.
Some viruses are slightly different each time we encounter them. The common cold and the flu are this type. This means our body must re-learn how to fight these infections.
White blood cells are perhaps the most crucial factors in the immune system. These are formed in the bone marrow and part of the lymphatic system.
White blood cells circulate through the bloodstream searching for anything that should not be there like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Of the white blood cells, T-cells are killer cells. These identify invaders and destroy them.
Alongside white blood cells, antibodies take on microbes and the toxins they produce. Antibodies perform this function by recognizing compounds called antigens on the surface of microbes. Antibodies effectively signal these microbes to be destroyed.
The immune system is regulated and deployed by a complex system that involves multiple organs, but the lymphatic system is most significant. This is a network of microtubules that run throughout the body. The many roles of the lymphatic system for supporting immune responses include:
- manage the fluid levels in the body
- react to bacteria
- deal with cancer cells
- deal with cell products that otherwise would result in disease or disorders
- absorb some of the fats in our diet from the intestine.
There is more to the immune system, but these features give you a sense of the complexity of the immune system and what may go into supporting immune responses. The immune system involves the entire body as it works to protect the entire body.
Ways to strengthen your immune system
As we noted, the immune system simply does its job. However, there are some practical things you can do to strengthen your immune system.
Get enough sleep
Rest and the immune system are interdependent. Not enough sleep or poor-quality sleep can make you more susceptible to illness. Studies have shown that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night are far more likely to catch a common cold than those who get enough sleep.
Adults should at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Children should sleep 8-10 hours, and infants require up to 14 hours of sleep a night.
Things you can do to improve your sleep include limiting screen time for at least an hour before bed. Smartphones, tv, and computers are known to disrupt sleep and interrupt your circadian rhythm which is the body's natural sleep cycle.
Another recommendation for good sleep is to make sure you get exercise during the day. Too many of us sit still for too long these days, and some physical activity helps with proper sleep.
Eat more plant-based whole foods
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are loaded with the nutrients and antioxidants that provide you with a boost to your immune system that keeps you healthy.
The nutrients in these types of foods are immediately available to the immune system for the synthesis of the proteins and other compounds that make up the functional features of the immune system.
What is more, the antioxidants that are so concentrated in these foods give you even more protection. Antioxidants bind with and help eliminate free radicals that can form in the body. These free radicals can cause cellular damage which makes you vulnerable to illness and other serious health issues.
Finally, whole plant foods feed the microbiome of your gut. This is the healthy bacteria that maintain the health of your intestinal tract. A healthy gut microbiome improves your immunity from pathogens that enter your system through your gastrointestinal system.
Eat healthy fats
Healthy fats are those that we find in things like olive oil and salmon. These kinds of fats boost your body’s immune response by reducing inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural response to things like stress and injury. But when inflammation becomes chronic it can reduce the effectiveness of your body’s immune responses.
Olive oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been linked to a decrease in chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Also, the anti-inflammatory properties in the healthy fast in olive oil can help fight some bacteria and viruses. Another powerful anti-inflammatory is Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon and chia seeds.
Eat more fermented foods
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria. These types of bacteria are called probiotics and they help sustain your digestive tract.
Fermented foods are things like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto. There is research to show that fermented foods help healthy bacteria to grow in your digestive tract and this supports the immune defense against many harmful microbes.
If for any reason you cannot eat fermented foods (some people simply do like them), you can take probiotic supplements that will provide similar benefits.
Diet and your immune system
A healthy immune system requires solid nutrition to properly function. As we pointed out above, the immune system is something that runs through your entire body, and solid nutrition is the best way to support this. Any nutrition deficiency will compromise your immune system.
Some micronutrients appear to play a larger role in supporting your immune system than others. Deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E all result in a compromised immune system.
The best way to provide the proper nutrient for your immune system is to eat a balanced diet, avoid processed foods and excess fats, and cut down on added sugars.
You can bolster your immune system by taking a multivitamin with mineral supplements.
Can stress affect your immune system?
Stress not only weakens our immune system, but there is now an entire field of study called psychoneuroimmunology, or the science of how states of mind affect the physical body.
When we are stressed, our immune system is less able to recognize and fight off antigens. What is more, stress releases a hormone called corticosteroid and this tends to suppress the immune system by lowering the production of lymphocytes in the lymph system.
Why does the health of your immune system matter?
Your immune system protects you from all manner of pathogenic intrusions. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even allergens are all fought and neutralized by your immune system. What is more, since the immune system runs through virtually every part of your body, no part of your body is not immediately impacted by the proper functioning of your immune system.
So it is not as if there are ways to be healthy without paying attention to the health of your immune system. No matter how strong or fit you may be, if your immune system is not healthy, you will not be able to function.
In the final analysis, any pathogen has the potential to be lethal. Without a proper immune response, even common bacteria and viruses would become deadly.
By maintaining the health of your immune system you maintain the health of virtually every other biological system in your body.
System Booster Foods
While sound nutrition is the best way to keep your immune system working at maximum, some foods are known to give your immune system a boost. Some of these foods include:
The vitamin C alone that is so concentrated in citrus fruits gives your immune system the power it needs. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant.
Your body cannot produce vitamin C so you must get a daily dose. If you cannot get enough vitamin C from dietary sources, you can take a supplement. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C:
- 75 mg for women
- 90 mg for men
Red bell peppers
Citrus fruits are the obvious choice for vitamin C. What many of us may not know is that red bell peppers can contain up to three times as much vitamin C as a single orange. Red bell peppers are also loaded with beta carotene which is another powerful antioxidant.
Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals that all work to boost your immune system. Broccoli contains vitamins A, C, and E. it is a great source of fiber, which maintains gut health. And it is another fine source of antioxidants.
Ideally, you should steam or cook your broccoli as little as possible since steaming destroys some of its nutritional value. Eat broccoli raw for the full benefits.
We all know garlic adds plenty of flavor to cooking. Garlic is also an immune booster. Some early civilizations used garlic to fight infections. The boost to the immune system appears to come from the high concentrations of sulfur compounds found in garlic.
Plenty of people are turning to things like ginger tea when they are sick. This is because ginger provides a real boost to the immune system. Ginger contains a chemical called gingerol which is a relative of capsaicin. This seems to actively fight infections. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also great for treating nausea.
Some smoothies contain a variety of immune-boosting ingredients. Spartan Detox offers multiple smoothies that contain immune-boosting foods. Everything from vitamin C boosts to antioxidants, Spartan Detox smoothies are loaded with immune-boosting ingredients.
Our Power Shot vs Rage Shot
The Power Shot from Spartan Detox contains potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidants that may help prevent certain diseases. While also aiding in digestion, it supports the overall immune system to say in tip-top shape.
Or you could try the Spartan Detox Rage Shot. Rage Shot offers similar properties but also contains antibacterial effects along with the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that pack a punch to the body! Rage Shot may help decrease digestive issues and enhance immune function.
We tend to take our immune system for granted. This is something that is simply in place until we become ill, then we do everything we can get our immune system in high gear. The fact is, the immune system is at work constantly, fighting off microbes and toxins all the time and keeping us healthy.
Things like white blood cells and the lymphatic system function right alongside every other biological system in the body. Without being aware of it, our immune system most often destroys things that would make us sick without us being aware.
With a little foresight, we can feed our immune system by eating the right foods. Just sticking to a healthy balanced diet will most often provide you with everything you need to keep your immune system working well.
There are times when we want to pay more attention to the immune system. If you have been exposed to an illness, or if you are in a weakened condition for some other reason you will need to boost your immune system. At these times, you can stock up on immune-boosting foods. You can also try any of the smoothies and immune-boosting shots from Spartan Detox.