Optimising your immune system this rainy season
With the rainy season comes a variety of illnesses and ailments, hence, the need to ensure that your body’s defence system remains on guard at all times. Your defence system is your immune system and it has been designed evolutionarily to keep you healthy and strong. It safeguards you against disease-causing microorganisms when you adequately take good care of it. It may sometimes fail when microbes successfully invade, colonize and disrupt its activities, resulting in sickness.
How the Immune System works
The immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that work hand in hand to defend your body against foreign substances. These substances may include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungus all around your environment, with the potential to cause different ailments. A healthy immune system protects our bodies by first creating a barrier that stops the foreign substances or antigens from entering the body. When one of these invaders slip through the barrier, the immune system immediately produces white blood cells, other chemicals and proteins to attack and destroy the foreign substances. They try to find the antigen and get rid of it before it multiplies. When the immune system fails to get rid of the antigen before multiplication, it revs up even more to destroy the antigens as they multiply.
The immune system can recognize millions of different antigens and it can produce what it needs to eradicate nearly all of them. When it’s working properly, this elaborate defence system can keep health problems ranging from cancer to the common cold at bay. Sometimes, the immune system makes mistakes by identifying and treating certain substances as being harmful when they are not. An example of such is a pollen grain. An allergic reaction occurs when this immune system revs up to fight the foreign substances. In reality, there are ailments/diseases that we may have no control over, but we owe it to ourselves to ensure to maintain healthy lifestyles. Careless eating, a sedentary or inactive lifestyle, not getting enough sleep or being under chronic stress, can all contribute to a weak immune system.
Boosting Your Immune System
This is done simply by adopting healthy lifestyle habits that help improve immunity, even for a lifetime. Some of these habits include:
Walking or exercising regularly: Exercising is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It contributes directly by promoting blood circulation, which allows for cells and substances of the immune system to move freely around the body to carry out their proper function. This is the reason why a sedentary lifestyle is not advisable. It leaves you feeling lazy/fatigue and this has a way of negatively affecting your immune system. Also, exercise is associated with the release of endorphins which eases pain and promotes a sense of relaxation and well-being, all of which can help you feel less-stressed, sleep better and in turn, improve immunity.
Healthy eating: Proper nutrition is essential for your immune system to function properly. A diet high in empty calories not only leads to weight gain, but can also leave you more prone to infections. Being overweight is associated with a number of health problems that can also weaken your immune system. You may want to consider eliminating high-sugar containing foods and beverages because microbes thrive well in the presence of sugar. Diets rich in antioxidant vitamins on the other hand, can boost resistance to infection. Consider eating in colours: dark green, red, yellow, and orange fruits and veggies, which are rich in antioxidants. Try out citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Basically, eat as close to nature as possible.
Get enough sleep: Not sleeping well and or enough has been linked to a laundry list of physical and mental health problems, including those that stem from an impaired immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality or enough sleep are more likely to fall ill after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect the recovery rate of an ill person. It happens that during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which helps to promote sleep and keep the immune system active. Sleep deprivation causes a decreased production of these protective cytokines and thus decreases the action of infection-fighting antibodies and cells. Long-term lack of sleep has also been found to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Ensure to get a minimum of seven to eight hours of good sleep every night. Teenagers or school-aged children may need about ten or more hours of sleep.
Practice stress management: When your body is constantly put under stress, you become more vulnerable to any sort of illness, ranging from a common flu to other major diseases. From time to time, stress may not be avoided and is not necessarily a bad thing but not having relief from stress or being
constantly under stress is where the problem lies. A steady series of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline weakens the body’s immune system. Also, chronic stress has been observed to be linked to heart disease and hypertension which have effect on white blood cell function and results to a weak immune system. Taking time off to rest and mediate will go a long way.
Don’t abuse alcohol or recreational drugs: Drinking in moderation appears to have some health benefits like lowering your risk of heart disease. When drinking in moderation, you may want to consider taking not more than two drinks per day for a man and not more one drink for a woman because drinking too much alcohol inhibits the function of white blood cells, thus, lowering your resistance to infection. Also, using recreational drugs like marijuana, has the same effect on white blood cells which weakens your immune system.
Practice good hygiene: Take preventive measures to avoid infections, such as bathing and brushing regularly, washing your hands frequently, washing food items properly and cooking meats thoroughly.