As we live our daily lives, we are exposed to organisms and they may get into our body in different ways. In one way or another, these organisms may cause disease especially if the defense mechanisms or immune system of our body is weak.
Our body is vulnerable to diseases if our immune system isn’t working at par. That’s why it’s important to improve your immune system and eventually boosts your general health.
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What Is the Immune System?
Before finding the right ways to boost the immune system, the first thing to do is to understand everything about it.
The immune system is composed of different organs, proteins and cells that protect your body from any foreign substances including bacteria and viruses.
It also works to neutralize and eliminate pathogens like viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites from penetrating your body.
The cells in the immune system comes from the bone marrow, circulates in the blood and the lymphatic system and protects the peripheral tissues (1).
When the immune system isn’t working properly, there’s great possibility to develop illnesses. If the immune system is underactive, your body may develop immunodeficiency and severe infections.
On the other hand, overactivity may lead to autoimmune diseases and allergic. The immune system is really amazing as it has the capability to fight against viruses and bacteria that causes diseases (2).
The immune system has two parts such as the innate and adaptive immune system. They complement with each other to fight harmful substance or pathogens.
Common Immune System Diseases
As it is important to know how to boost your immune system, it is also necessary to know the different immune system disorders caused by either autoimmune attack or excessive immune response.
Here are some of the common immune system disorders;
- Asthma and other allergies
If your immune system is weak, you’ll be susceptible to allergens that may trigger allergic diseases like allergic rhinitis, asthma, food allergies and atopic dermatitis. Dust, pollen and mold are common allergens that cause your body to develop allergy symptoms (3).
Allergic reactions happen when your body has developed antigens against any substance. Exposure to such substance repeatedly may result to allergies.
- Immune deficiency disorders
If one or more parts are missing in your immune system, most likely you may develop immune deficiency disease. Such disorder may be the result of existing illness or medication, or genetic disorder also known as primary immunodeficiency (4).
HIV/AIDS is an example of immune deficiency disorder and drug-induced immune deficiency. Infections that are life-threatening can cause severe impairment to your immune system.
- Autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases force your immune system to bout your body cells and tissues. After the World War II, the prevalence of this immune system disorder increases throughout the world.
In fact, millions of Americans nowadays were living and suffering from autoimmune disease. It’s not easy to diagnose this disease accurately. The symptoms of autoimmune disease are vague and disparate; thus it may take few years to diagnose the disease.
Examples of such disease include inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease.
The first thing to do to treat such condition is to stay away from factors and foods that can damage the gut, thus prevents leaky gut (5).
Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
In spite of the facts that were living in a world with infectious microorganisms, it’s important to be healthy. Your immune system plays significant role in keeping your health as it protects you from disease-causing microbes.
Here are sure-fire ways to optimize the function of your immune system:
- Manage stress and get adequate sleep
Stress and sleep deprivation can increase the production of cortisol. Continuous increase of this hormone suppresses proper functioning of your immune system (6).
- Consume more fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts
- Consider probiotics
Having leaky gut can weaken the immune system, and may lead to immune imbalance as well as developing autoimmune diseases.
Consuming probiotic foods is one way to boost the immune system. These are good bacteria that support the immune system and at the same time help to detoxify the colon. Likewise, the probiotic organisms stimulate various cytokine responses.
Giving probiotic supplements at an early age can prevent diseases that are immune-related. It also improves the gut mucosal immune system. Taking probiotic supplements prevents incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections (8).
- Adequate intake of vitamin D
Vitamin D promotes protective immunity to an individual. Multiple studies revealed that insufficient intake of vitamin D increases the susceptibility to infection (9).
Exposing to sunlight is a natural way to stimulate your skin produce vitamin D. Likewise, you should also consume foods that are rich in vitamin D to avoid the risk of developing influenza and other respiratory infections.
- Consume garlic
Garlic has broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent making it a powerful immune booster. Make it a habit to include garlic when cooking so that you can obtain its health benefits.
A study shows that who chow more than six garlic cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.
- Consider immune-supportive herbs
If you are prone to infections, taking immune-supportive herbs can help to boost your immune system.
Ginseng is one of the herbs that have been used to enhance resistance against infection or illness and maintains the immune homeostasis.
You can use the leaves, stems and roots of ginseng to prevent viral and bacterial infections. It also plays significant role to produce antibody that enables your body to fight pathogenic antigens.
- Use essential oils
Myrrh is a sap-like substance that has antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Aside from boosting the immune system, this essential oil can also fight specific pathogens when combined with frankincence oil.
- Avoid excessive intake of alcohol
Taking anything excessively can be harmful to your health. This is also true with excessive consumption of alcohol as it can weaken your immune system. This makes your body vulnerable to any respiratory infections.
- Stop smoking
Definitely, smoking would do harm to your health as it can weaken your immune system. To improve your immune defenses, it’s about time to stop smoking to avoid the risks of developing bronchitis and other respiratory infections.
- Do regular exercise
Keeping yourself physical active is another way to boost your immune system. This means that you should do regular exercise that is not only beneficial to the immune system but also your general health.
Getting sick can affect your life in many ways. That’s why to avoid such situation, it’s important to boost your immune system. This way, it can function properly and protect you from developing illnesses and infections.
Dietitian with around 3 years of experience in assessing the nutritional needs of patients, counselling individuals, communicating the appropriate nutritional information to other members of the health care team and implementing nutritional care plans by following all the standards.