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Yourkeeps you healthy and fights disease. From colds to flu to your immune system must be strong enough to fight off a variety of illnesses, viruses, and diseases.
When it comes to strengthening your body, there are many different factors at play. As tempting as it may be to take a supplement and stop there, many factors affect your body’s ability to fight infections and other illnesses. After all, it’s a whole system working, not a single entity.
According to Dr. Michael Roizen, COO of the Cleveland Clinic, there are several broad categories to consider when evaluating your lifestyle and boosting your immunity. These areas include sleep, nutrition and supplements, exercise, and stress management. Keep reading below for more information on how to optimize each of these areas for your health and better immunity.
What is the immune system and how does it work?
You know your immune system is essential for staying healthy and fighting off disease, but do you know exactly how it works?
“Your immune system is what protects you from things you shouldn’t have in your body, whether it’s cancer cells growing inside you or bacteria, viruses, or particles of the virus. outside that cause a reaction,” Roizen said. “Your body is home to a number of different defense mechanisms that protect you from foreign invaders, and it all starts with your skin. Your skin has oil that stops things from getting through your skin, and you have bacteria, viruses and mushrooms that are healthy for you and protect you.”
In addition to your skin, you also have protective mechanisms in your nose and throat. “In your nasal passages and throat you have a lot of cilia and mucus secretions that actually contain antibodies to protect you. which begins to enter.” Roizen said.
Your gut also plays an important role in your immune health. “In your gut you have a lining on your gut wall and a lot of your immune system, over 40% of your immune system is in your gut wall, keeping things out of the food you eat and bacteria and viruses that enter prevent them from entering.”
Now that you know how your immune system works, let’s explore how you can make it work effectively.
When you’re feeling stressed or sad, it’s really easy to give up healthy eating. But, especially sugar, could cause you more harm than just increasing your waistline. Your white blood cells are responsible for taking care of the bad viruses and bacteria in your body, and according to Roizen, sugar is one thing that can prevent them from doing their job. “Too much sugar in your system allows bacteria or viruses to spread much more because your initial innate system doesn’t work as well. That’s why diabetics, for example, get more infections,” says Roizen.
A 2018 study showed that high-sugar diets were responsible for the increaseand suppression of the immune system in flies. Another study showed that consuming sugar clearly affects the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria for about 5 hours after eating it – all the more reason to watch how many sweets you eat and watch out for sneaky added sugars .
While there is not a singlethat can magically immunize you against disease, there are several that science has shown to be helpful in supporting immune health. Vitamin C is one of the main vitamins that has been shown to help protect people against illness and help people who are already sick feel better faster.
Zinc is another supplement that has flown off the shelves since the pandemic hit in 2020. And while it can’t cure COVID-19, it helps the body fight infection and can help relieve the symptoms – but there really isn’t enough research yet to say exactly how it may help.
Finally, vitamin D, once believed to support strong bones, also plays an important role in your immune health. Vitamin D works by helping reduce inflammation in your body and activating your immune cells – two things that are important for staying healthy. You can get vitamin D from regular exposure to sunlight on your skin, and it’s found in some foods, but many people need supplements to get enough.
The stress and overload of the global news cycle is enough to keep anyone awake at night, but now is not the time to skimp on good quality sleep. You need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, and 8 hours is even better.
Not only can lack of sleep lead to weight gain, irritability and poor concentration, but it can also weaken your immune system and prevent your body from fighting infections. If you have trouble falling asleep orat night try to incorporate that signals your body that it’s time to rest.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can reduce proteins in your body that fight inflammation and infection, making you more susceptible to disease. If there are factors beyond your control that affect your sleep,which can help make up the difference.
While returning to the gym is a personal decision based on the risk you’re willing to take, exercise is important for your health. Not only is it a good anti-stress andbut it can help your body fight disease and recover faster.
The key to exercise is being consistent and getting enough of it each week (at least 150 minutes total per week). If you train very intensely (like HIIT workouts for example), you want to limit them to around 75 minutes per week in total. Although the evidence is mixed, doctors like Roizen and infectious disease expert Dr. Sandra Kesh recommend not to overdo it withat present. Intense exercise without proper recovery time can exhaust your system and make it difficult to fight infections or viruses.
High levels of stress can hijack your health. But finding ways to relax, such as by meditating or doing calming activities, is important for your mental and physical health. Stress can weaken your immune system by lowering your white blood cell count.
Roizen agrees: “We know from studies that during stressful life events you are between 20% and 60% more likely to catch a cold or the flu. is the main factor associated with cancer because your immune system is weakened during stressful events and chronic stress in particular,” he said.
Managing stress is so important that it can actually alter your genes to be less effective at fighting inflammation. “We also know that if you look at what stress is doing to your genetics, it changes how genes work so that you turn on things that make inflammatory proteins and turn off genes that lower inflammation,” he said. Roizen said.
More for your well-being:
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.