The average person’s immune system does a great job preventing diseases from affecting the body, but it is not perfect. A robust and healthy immune system is critical to help stop microorganisms from causing disease after they invade your body.
There is always a chance of getting sick from some unknown germ in any environment. To increase your chances of staying safe from disease-causing germs, you must build your immune system’s strength before encountering them. But there are no guarantees you’ll remain completely safe from the germs. All you can do is take the appropriate steps to strengthen your immune system and hope for the best.
How to Establish a Stronger Immune System
The body’s immune system is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists and medical researchers. Even though they understand the immune system’s functionality, they still don’t fully understand how it interconnects with good lifestyle choices and health behavior.
Diet and exercise are the two solutions to most health problems, and building a robust immune system is no exception. But why do diet and exercise make the immune system stronger? There is no direct scientific evidence linking diet and exercise to an improved immune system. But doctors and scientists see better immune system responses in people living healthier lifestyles.
Besides, there are many good reasons to live a healthier lifestyle. In addition to looking better and living longer, healthy eating ensures vital vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are reaching your internal organs, bones, and bodily systems.
Here is how you can preserve and boost the health of your body and immune system:
- Perform at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily
- Include a lot of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet
- Avoid cigarettes and tobacco products
- Follow CDC vaccine recommendations by getting vaccinated for the latest viruses spreading in your area
- Get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night
- Avoid alcohol if possible or drink in moderation
- Reduce stress factors in your environment
- Wash your hands regularly and remain sanitary
The health and strength of the entire body have much to do with how well your immune system functions. People who eat poorly and don’t exercise are more likely to get sick because their bodies are not stimulated with steady blood flow and nutrients. Poor bodily functions translate to poor immune system response.
Is Boosting the Immune System a Myth?
What does it really mean to boost the immune system anyway? What actually happens in the body to create a faster immune response?
You can visit your local supermarket and see shelves filled with immune-boosting products, such as vegetable super drinks and immune supplements. Consuming these products may increase the number of white blood cells or immune cells that attack germs and viruses invading your body.
While it may sound like a good thing to have in your body, some products can also raise your blood pressure and increase your chances of getting a heart attack or stroke. After all, your heart needs to pump blood faster for the immune cells to reach the infected systems and organs in the body. So when you consume these immune-boosting products, they can essentially raise your blood pressure to create a faster immune response.
Many different kinds of immune cells exist. That is why taking an immune-boosting product doesn’t guarantee which immune cells will grow and respond to invaders in the body. No scientist or medical researcher has invented an immune-boosting product to boost any specific group of immune cells.
The body produces new immune cells constantly on its own. And when too many immune cells have been produced, most of them die off naturally through a unique process known as apoptosis. So there would be no point in creating an abundance of immune cells since most of them will die anyway.
The immune system decides how many cells it needs to protect the body adequately. No one can possibly know how many it needs.
The Link Between Age and Immune Health
Does getting older cause weaker immune health? Truthfully, older age will increase your chances of getting sick from an infectious virus or cancer.
Old age tends to slow down the functions in the body systems, especially if a person suffers from an age-related health problem. On the other hand, some people age better than others because of healthy lifestyle choices and good genes. There is no way to know if you will become one of these people.
The top causes of death for people 65 and older include pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19. Respiratory illnesses and infections could easily kill an older person with a weak immune system. Perhaps this happens due to a reduction in the T cells in the body.
Some scientific evidence found a slight link between low T-cell counts and increased risk of death in seniors. It is not surprising because older bodies don’t seem to produce as many T cells as younger ones. T cells are vital for fighting and preventing infectious diseases from taking over the body, so having fewer of them would not be a good thing.
Another problem older people face is their diminishing bone marrow. The immune system depends on the bone marrow to produce stem cells to sustain the immune cells. If fewer stem cells are produced, fewer immune cells are available to respond to dangerous invaders or infections in the body.
Sometimes a slower immune response can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines for treating viruses like influenza. In fact, one medical study showed that the influenza vaccines were less effective for senior citizens than for children two years or older. However, the seniors who took the influenza vaccines had lower death and illness rates than those who didn’t. So it is still better to take the influenza vaccine to reduce the chances of sickness.
In any event, the primary link between age and immune health falls back on nutrition and exercise. It just so happens that older people don’t eat as much as younger people, so they consume fewer micronutrients. The human body requires a consistent consumption of vitamins and minerals from food to support a healthier immune system. Since older people don’t consume as many micronutrients, they tend to have weaker immune systems.
As a result, the poor immune health of older people has more to do with their lack of quality food consumption and less to do with their age.
The Link Between Nutrition and Immune Health
The stomach is where the immune system receives its stimulation and strength. That is why consistent, high-quality nourishment is the key to better immune health.
Do you ever wonder why people living in impoverished communities and third-world countries suffer the most from illnesses and deadly diseases? A big reason is the massive amounts of malnourishment and unsanitary conditions. The immune system cannot sustain itself if you don’t consume micronutrients daily.
The best examples of micronutrients include Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folic acid, copper, iron, selenium, and zinc. If your diet doesn’t contain at least some of these micronutrients daily, you could suffer a weak immune response to any potential virus infecting your body.
Many people suffer from this problem because they consume too many processed foods with added sugars and few micronutrients. To overcome it, consume more vegetables and cut out processed foods to supply your body with vital immune-boosting nutrients. If that is too difficult for you, the best alternative is consuming a multivitamin once daily. Just follow the daily intake instructions on the multivitamin bottle to ensure you don’t overdose.
The Link Between Herbal Supplements and Immune Health
Health food stores and supermarkets have shelves filled with herbal supplement products promising different health benefits. One of the most popular benefits is boosting or supporting immune health with natural plant-based ingredients.
Some medical studies show a positive immune response from consuming certain herbal supplements. But little evidence suggests that the improved immune response will do a better job of preventing disease or infection. Even if an herbal supplement raises the antibody levels in the bloodstream, it doesn’t necessarily mean the antibodies will destroy the viruses any better than they did before.
Overall, it is up to the consumer to decide which herbal supplements work best for their immune health.
The Link Between Stress and Immune Health
The mind has a significant impact on the health of the body. Doctors and scientists have known about this connection for centuries, even though they don’t fully understand it.
Stress is one mental factor that has a significant negative impact on your physical health. Everything from heart disease to an upset stomach could be attributed to a person’s emotional stress. Medical researchers continue to study this connection to understand better how stress impacts immune health. Right now, there is still so much they don’t know.
Everyone manages their stress levels differently. For instance, some people are stressed out by standing in a crowded location or sitting in heavy traffic. However, others may do a better job of managing their stress levels in these situations.
The complexities of mental stress generation are challenging for researchers to analyze accurately. The best thing the researchers can do is focus on the stress indicators within the person’s body, such as rapid changes to the number of heartbeats per minute. This kind of sudden change in heartbeats is a clear sign of stress.
But how does this affect immune health? Understanding the link between stress and immune health is even more challenging because most common stress triggers are infrequent and short-lived in individuals. Therefore, medical researchers must study people suffering from chronic stress and frequent stress triggers. But such a study would require a controlled environment where the participants would have to be exposed to a stress-triggering chemical.
The chemical triggers an immune response from the stress factor, which means a particular immune cell produces more antibodies to eliminate the potential threat. By doing this, the researchers can study the rapid change in immune response due to the chemical.
Unfortunately, it is still difficult to take accurate measurements of immune response to stress, despite being in a controlled environment. There are just too many different environmental and biological factors that significantly influence immune health regularly. But scientists and medical researchers continue to improve their controlled experiments to produce the most accurate results possible.
The Link Between Cold Temperatures and Immune Health
Do you ever wonder why people are more susceptible to sickness when it is cold outside? Parents always tell their children to wear a jacket in the wintertime because they could catch a cold if they don’t. But usually, the children who wear jackets will end up getting sick anyway.
The truth is that cold winter temperatures don’t impact immune health. People get sicker in the wintertime because they spend more time indoors than outdoors. When you spend more time indoors, you’re in close quarters surrounded by other people for extended periods. It makes you more susceptible to catching a cold from someone else because you’re sharing the same air space for too long.
Some scientific evidence shows the influenza virus can spend more time airborne when temperatures are colder and drier. This increases your potential exposure time to the virus because it is in the air for longer periods. However, it has nothing to do with your immune system because your immune health will be the same either way.
Overall, there is no significant evidence showing colder temperatures suppress immune health. But you should still wear a jacket when it is cold outside because it will make you feel warmer and more comfortable. Just don’t expect the jacket to prevent germs from making you sick because it won’t.
The Link Between Exercise and Immune Health
Daily cardiovascular exercise can lower your blood pressure, reduce your body weight, improve your appearance, enhance your heart health, and make you feel better mentally. In addition, it can improve your immune health and provide added protection against all kinds of diseases and viruses.
Of course, there is still a scientific debate about whether exercise merely sustains immune health or improves it and makes it better. Despite scientists having no clear answer to the question, all scientists agree that exercise is essential to improve and sustain human health. But whether or not exercise can help your immune system fight off more viruses is up for debate.