Every day, your body is exposed to microbes, including disease-causing microorganisms. Thanks to your immune system, your body can protect you against diseases by fighting foreign invaders like viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites. This process may seem simple because you don’t notice when your immune system is working. However, your body’s natural defense system is complex and made up of various cells, proteins, and organs that work together to keep harmful invaders from harming you. In this article, we look at the importance of a healthy immune system and ways you can strengthen your body's natural defense system.
How Does Your Immune System Function?
The immune system serves as a defense against harmful microbes that invade your body from the outside or changes that occur inside your body that may be harmful to you. Your immune system shields you by doing the following:
- Combating disease-causing microbes like viruses, fungi, bacteria, or parasites, and expunge them from the body.
- Counteracting changes that occur in your body that may lead to diseases such as cancer.
- Detecting and fighting toxins and other harmful substances from your environment.
When your body detects foreign substances (antigens), your immune system is immediately activated. Antigens can be allergens, toxins, or proteins on the surface of foreign cells (viruses, bacteria, and fungi). Once these antigens make contact with your immune system cells, your body’s natural defenses are triggered and antibodies are made. Antibodies triggered by a type of germ stay in your system to fight the same germ when it reoccurs. This way, your body stores information on how to fight a disease-causing germ, so that it can fight it faster the next time it detects the same germ.
Although the antibodies tag and attach themselves to antigens, they can’t kill the germs. Pathogens (harmful microorganisms that can cause diseases) are destroyed by T-cells. T-cells are products of the stem cells in the bone marrow. They kill and eliminate infected cells, therefore, they are an important part of the immune system. Sometimes, the body’s natural defenses can’t tell the difference between body cells and harmful foreign cells. So your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body. This occurrence is known as an autoimmune response.
Why You Should Strengthen Your Immune System
Your immune system serves as a defense line against pathogens and harmful substances. As long as your immune system is functioning properly, you don’t notice it is working. However, if it becomes weak and unable to fight certain antigens, you can fall sick. Also, germs that your body has not encountered before can make you sick. That is why you should make an effort to strengthen your immune system.
Your immune system relies on your lymphatic system and bloodstream to transport nutrients throughout your body and remove toxins that can harm you. When your body’s defense system is strengthened by healthy habits, it performs better by doing the following seamlessly:
- Combat foreign cells that may be harmful
- Prevents infections and diseases
- Kills off pathogens
Below are some of the benefits of a healthy immune system.
A healthy immune system plays a huge role in fighting infections. The immune system produces white blood cells and proteins to fight and eliminate disease-causing microorganisms and toxins. This way, the body gets rid of pathogens before they multiply in the body and cause severe sickness.
Wounds Heal Quickly
When your immune system is functioning well, you are more likely to recover from injuries quickly. Immune cells influence wound healing. Hence, when your body’s defense system is weak, it can lead to persistent inflammation and delayed healing.
Feeling Strong and Healthy
A healthy immune system protects you from contagious antigens that can cause severe infections. You feel more healthy when you don’t get sick often. Also, a weak immune system can cause fatigue. When your immunity is robust, you feel stronger.
How to Keep a Healthy Immune System
There are many steps you can take to reinforce your immune system to help fight infections. Although studies on the intricacies of the immune system response are still ongoing, several researchers have found links between a healthy lifestyle and good immune function. Therefore, your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Here are some healthy habits that can improve immune function.
Eating a Nutritious Diet
Natural compounds from healthy food sources are believed to boost immunity and help the body fight diseases. Although it’s unlikely that individual foods can offer special protection, eating a nutritious diet can help prepare your immune system for microbial attacks and prevent inflammation. A plant-based diet that includes fruits and vegetables of various colors is highly recommended. These plant foods are rich in phytonutrients known to aid immune function.
Engaging in Regular Exercise
Doing moderate-intensity exercise can increase the circulation of immune cells in your body, thus boosting immunity. Also, when you exercise, your body temperature rises. This increase in your body temperature may help your body fight infections better. A similar occurrence happens when you have a fever.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Studies show that there is a link between obesity and immune function. Obese individuals are more prone to inflammation, which can negatively impact immune function. When you maintain a healthy weight, your immune system can run smoothly and protect you from infections.
Getting Adequate Sleep
Sleep provides support to the immune system. Getting good sleep can strengthen your immune system by aiding the T cells to destroy cells infected by viruses and other pathogens. Strengthen your immune system by getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
Getting Sunlight Exposure
You may not be aware of this but getting sunlight exposure can improve your immune system function. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces Vitamin D from cholesterol. Vitamin D is vital to the immune system as it can regulate innate and adaptive immune responses.
Water plays an integral role in immune function. It helps to transport oxygen around the body, which helps body cells function properly. It also helps flush toxins from the body, which prevents toxins from accumulating and causing harm to the body.
A weak immune system can pose a massive threat to your overall health. Because your body heavily relies on your defense system for the healing and regeneration of new cells, you have to ensure it is working at full capacity. Fortunately, there are ways to boost your immune system and give yourself a fair shot at a healthy life. This involves maintaining healthy habits such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. Indulging in these healthy habits can make you feel more healthy, give you the energy you need, and help your body heal faster.