Our immune system is a vast, complex network that is responsible for combating potential sickness and diseases that we may encounter.
Now, parents and even children are more conscious of protecting themselves from harmful bacteria and viruses. But how do we know if our immune system is healthy?
Our immune system is designed to identify healthy cells, unhealthy cells, and even foreign cells that can cause harm to us. The cells can be unhealthy for various reasons, such as becoming infected or replicating abnormally. When a problem arises, the immune system activates different types of white blood cells, each with their specific function to fight the problem at bay.
The immune system is one of the most complex biological systems. White blood cells are activated when a threat is found, but if your system doesn’t activate enough white blood cells, a small cut could turn into an infected wound. If the response is too aggressive, you could develop an allergic reaction or the white blood cells could target healthy, viable cells. This is why it is important for our immune system to be in perfect working order when dealing with an illness.
How are we sure we can protect ourselves from illnesses? Let’s dive in and go over how you can build up your immune system so it’s stronger than ever.
First, here’s how to tell if you have a strong immune system in the first place.
You Have Fairly Normal Health History
It’s normal for us to get sick; this helps our body get stronger in the long run. Before vaccines were discovered, humans relied on herd immunity to fight illnesses in a community. Herd immunity is the concept that when you get sick, your body develops a resistance to that sickness and protects you from having it again, and as the community (i.e. the herd) gets sick, everyone eventually develops immunity.
People who recover from their sickness in a shorter amount of time tend to have stronger immune systems.
The best example of this is when you get a vaccine, and you develop a slight fever for a day or a few days. This is your immune system recognizing the inactivated virus and working hard to prepare a defense system in case it comes across the real thing!
Your GI System Is Healthy
Did you know that a large portion of our immune system is in our digestive tract? Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract holds the largest amount of good bacteria in our body.
Intestinal homeostasis (AKA a normal, balanced GI system) is held together by the constant cooperation and regulator of our immune system’s many parts. If one part is not functioning correctly, we are more prone to develop infection and increase our risk for reinfection in the future. Protect yourself now, and your future self will thank you later!
Our gut bacteria and our immune system constantly interact, so they play a pivotal role in protecting our bodies. Researchers have found that cells in our digestive system produce large amounts of antibodies that are crucial in combating bad bacteria.
A lot of problems can arise if we do not have healthy digestion. Our diets (especially ones that include probiotics like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt) help us in building our immunity.
You Regularly Get Enough Sleep
Studies have found that adults who sleep less have weaker immune systems and are more susceptible to illness. Not getting enough quality sleep keeps our bodies tired and doesn’t help us recover the energy we need to function when we start a new day. Getting a good night of sleep is essential in boosting our natural immunity.
Just look at how you’re told to rest when you’re sick to help you recover — your body needs that time to heal and fight off illness, and it does that best when you’re sleeping.
Extra rest gives our immune system time to recover and be ready for the next problem that may arise.
Adults should strive to sleep anywhere between 8 to 10 hours, while children generally need about 10 to 12. Getting adequate rest is also essential for children as they need more energy for their growing body, and sleeping helps them recover their energy so they can develop into healthy and strong adults!
You Exercise Regularly
Exercising is one of the most popular ways to keep your body healthy. This not only promotes physical well-being but also helps our immune system tremendously.
Light to moderate exercise elevates our heart rate, increasing circulation in our body to better transport nutrients to where they need to go. It also helps with digestion, which as we mentioned, plays a big role in supporting our immune system.
Keeping a healthy body also gives us a confidence boost — when we look and feel healthy, it encourages us to do what we can to stay that way. Regular exercise can also provide us with an energy boost in the morning that can act as a natural stimulant to get us through the day.
Adults should aim to get 150 minutes of light to moderate exercise weekly to support the immune system. Regular exercise can also help increase the healthy production of immune cells.
You Eat a Healthy Diet
Vitamin C, which can be found in citrus fruits, is considered an important supporter of your immune system thanks to its antioxidant properties. People deficient in vitamin C tend to be more prone to sickness since the body cannot produce vitamin C on its own.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that helps support your immune system and protect your body.
Consuming adequate fiber is also important as fiber helps move food throughout your digestive tract.
Probiotics or fermented foods are rich in healthy, beneficial bacteria. Probiotics provide our digestive tract with good bacteria that can help improve our gut’s immunity functions. A recent study suggests that children who regularly consume probiotics were found to have fewer infections in their childhood compared to those that didn’t have probiotics in their diet.
Improving and maintaining our immunity may seem like a daunting task, but our immune systems are our first line of defense against getting sick so it’s important to support it as best we can.
With Vessel Health, you can monitor your health and be proactive about making positive changes to support your overall wellness.