Everybody is talking about the immune system, and they all have the same recommendations. Take vitamin C, D3, and Zinc – and call me in the morning. That last bit is just a joke. Laughter helps the immune system too, more below. While the supplements are a great recommendation, there is much more to optimum health. Starting with getting a better understanding of the immune system.
The immune system goes way beyond the sinus and lungs. It involves a combination of other functions or parts of the body to help keep us healthy. The key parts of the immune system include white blood cells, antibodies, lymph nodes and vessels, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and don’t forget the Complement cascade. The short version of a definition of the cascade is that its part of the innate immune system of soluble molecules which when necessary can rapidly and effectively sense danger or damage, and then it triggers reactions to provide a response that discriminates among foreign intruders, cellular debris, healthy and altered host cells. They are defenders who just hang around and spring to action when needed.
There are more lines of defense against intruders. Actually, the body has several additional ways to defend itself against microbes:
- Our skin. Serving as a waterproof barrier, the skin secretes oil with antibacterial properties. Did you realize that using antibacterial soap disrupts the protection your body is trying to administer?
- Our lungs. The mucous layer in the lungs traps foreign particles, which are carried upward by the movement of small, hair-like structures lining the lungs and expelled through coughing or sneezing.
- Our digestive tract. The acid in the stomach acts as an early defense to kill microbes, and the lining of the gut contains antibodies. Foreign particles are also eliminated through the urinary tract and bowel.
- Body fluids. Skin oil, saliva, and tears contain antibacterial enzymes that can lower the risk of infection.
Here are 5 steps you can take every day to help boost your immune health.
- Boost your daily nutrition. Start with adding more fruits and vegetables to each meal. Stay hydrated by drinking at least 64 oz. of water each day. Eat good sources of omega-3s like the healthy fats in nuts, grains, and fish.
- Don’t skip meals. Maintaining even energy and blood sugar helps keep your body healthy, and a healthy body is better able to fight off germs.
- Focus on antioxidants and nutrients. Research has found that antioxidants play a key role in helping the body manage inflammation, especially in relation to maintaining a healthy immune system. So, include foods high in antioxidants (blueberries, dark chocolate, strawberries, beans, kale, spinach, etc.) in your diet where possible.
- Get active. Being active does wonders to reduce our stress (which can negatively impact the immune system) and to boost our immune response.
- Stay positive. This is where the laughter can come in. It can help you eliminate stress and depression. In this time of uncertainty it can be a challenge to stay positive. But staying positive and lowering your stress is one way we can take action to be a good influence during this season. Try restricting screen time an hour before bed: no cell phones, no computers or ipads. Eliminate watching the news right before bed – These things just may help you to sleep better. Better sleep will also help your immune system. Be Well.
Karen Sullivan is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at the Rec-Plex. She has 30 years in the fitness industry and works with kids as young as 2 and adults up to 90.
Register for a class at the Rec-Plex today at Rec-Connect!