What is Immunity and How can we improve it?

We always hear our elders and near and dear ones tell us about “how we must improve our immunity” as a preparation to fight the tough winters. Let us try to understand what “immunity “ actually means , what way it helps our body and what we can do to improve it.

The immune system is the natural defence system of human body. It is a comprehensive  network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against invaders- which could be viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites.

A healthy immune system protects us by creating barriers that stop attacks of offending organisms or antigens, from entering the body and if one slips by the barrier, we can count on our immune system for further protection. It produces white blood cells, and other chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy these antigens before they can reproduce. Our Immune system is so advanced that it not only helps us with this attack but also makes a memory of the antigen for any future attacks!

Despite such an evolutionary design, our immune system does break or get breached from time to time and that is the time when we fall ill.  

Popular advertisements boast: eat this and you will have super strong immunity, drink that for a great immunity. But science and experiments have proven that  taking up healthy habits is the best way to maintain good immunity.

Here is an insight to some immunity boosters and busters!

Immunity busters and boosters – 

 

Unhealthy diet vs. Healthy diet 

 

  • A healthy nutritious diet is the basic for a healthy immune system.
  • Substances such as Alcohol , excess sugar and empty calories are known to suppress the immune system whereas a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins is known to boost resistance to infection.
  • It is worthwhile to mention here a list of foods that need to be included more frequently in our diet- Amla or the Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits, apples, red grapes, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots and garlic. Basically looking for the bright natural colours in your diet is the key!

Lack of sleep vs. Healthy/Restorative sleep 

 

 

  • Human body is designed in such a way that it heals or repairs itself at night during sleep.
  • Lack of a proper 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis may hinder the restorative or healing mechanism of the body and may leave us fatigued and vulnerable to diseases.
  • Therefore, sleeping early and for a good 7-8 hours is highly advisable.

 

Chronic stress vs. Better stress management 

 

  • Constant long term stress is known to release stress hormones which are known suppressors of the immune system.
  • Therefore, stress management is a very important thing if you are looking for building up your immunity.
  • Figuring out how you can manage your stress is very important.
  • Meditation, prayers, yoga, exercise, relaxation activities like massages, holidaying  are some popular and positive ways of stress management.

Been sedentary vs. Being active

  • Research has many times established the positive effect of exercise and staying active in making the immune system strong.
  • According to many studies, exercise has been associated with the release of chemicals called “Endorphins” which are natural “feel good” hormones that affect the brain in positive ways like easing pain and promoting a sense of relaxation and well-being.
  • All of this can not only help us to de-stress and sleep better but also improve our overall health and immunity.

– Dr.Afroze Fatima

References –

https://mayoclinic.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/overview-of-the-immune-system

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/how-use-your-immune-system-stay-healthy#1

https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/10-immune-system-busters-boosters#1

https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-immune-foods

 

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