How You Can Strengthen Your Immune System by Understanding Its Functions and Needs

This article is written by Sarah Peterson from Zuma Nutrition.  

Our bodies are made to survive, to regenerate and reheal in order to thrive. Like all animals, we humans are led by instincts that keep us fed, hydrated, rested and energized in order for the body to function perfectly and regenerate from possible injuries. The human body by default does everything to destroy disease-causing organisms, using protective mechanisms to prevent the body from falling ill, but it can also heal itself when the disease is stronger and defeats the guards. 

In fact, our immunity is so strong that it is able to attack itself, i.e. the organs of the same body it’s protecting and completely destroy their function. Mistakenly, of course. This is, more or less, how auto-immune diseases occur. And while science still doesn’t have an answer why this happens, or why it will happen to some individuals and not to another, the fact is that despite the occurrence, immunity remains the main protector and possibly becomes the healer to your now impaired health. 

But the immune system can not stay in optimal function if it’s exhausted and depleted from inside and outside factors. These factors include chronic diseases, a daily attack of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites; free radicals damage and oxidative stress. If the immune system is constantly exposed to these threats, with time, it will weaken. This is why we should stay focused on supporting and helping its proper functioning despite suffering from an illness or being completely healthy. 

If a person is adopting habits that constantly support the work of the immune system it will achieve stronger immunity and thereby enjoy improved overall health and decreased disease’s symptoms. Maintaining a strong immunity is the main precursor that will dictate your overall health condition. It is especially important to successfully deal with chronic illness and plays the main role in achieving optimal wellbeing, even when living with auto-immune disease.  

Despite everything that may affect the body functions to fail, it is in its nature to regenerate and repair.

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What is the Immune System?

Our immune system is a complex network of cells with the primary function to defend the body from infections. It is composed of: the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, the bone marrow, white blood cells, and antibodies. All these parts form a perfectly functioning system that actively fights against infections and works towards regeneration and healing if a certain infection takes place. If that happens, the immune system “remembers”, i.e. keeps a record of every microbe that has been defeated and it is able to recognize it and destroy it efficiently if it happens to enter the body again. 

The complete immune system is comprised of three types of immunity:

  1. Innate Immunity – the immune system that everyone is born with. It’s the part that recognizes when there is a foreign body in the system and alarms for the danger imposed. 
  2. Adaptive immunity – this is the immunity we develop through years of successful battles against viruses, diseases, germs, and infections. It’s the immunity that recognizes the antigens that have already attracted the body and were effectively defeated. Simply, the one that makes the list of everything that tried to harm the body. 
  3. Passive Immunity – it is the immunity that is gained from an external source that is supporting the immune function. For example, the flu vaccine brings temporary immunity against seasonal flu. 
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How Does the Immune System Work?

The immune system has a certain amount of resources available, used to protect from an attack. When triggered, the immune system response consolidates these resources where they are most needed. If the danger in certain areas persists, these protectors will stay there to ensure effective protection.

However, as that defense is taking place, other areas in the body may be left unprotected and the disease-causing organisms may attack the body. If for any reason someones’ immunity is compromised, it can dedicate only the resources available and probably in one area where they can do the most good. 

Moreover, if there is a certain area or organ in our body that is suffering damage or disease, the immune system focuses on healing and regeneration of that particular area. In such a case, we need to find a way to prevent any other possible damage to allow the immune system to only focus on healing. And for this natural self-healing to be successful, we need to prevent any new attacks or threats that will eventually borrow resources from the main healing area and possibly compromise the healing process. Moreover, we can do our best to support immunity in the process of healing by adopting lifestyle and dietary changes. 

This leads to the conclusion that we all have the immune system defense available, however, some of us do not have the luxury to use it on defeating a toxic lifestyle. When suffering from chronic disease or auto-immune disorder one should focus on using immunity’s precious resources to eventually fight off disease and support immunity’s strength to prevent additional damages from disease-causing organisms.

A disease or autoimmune disorder is never welcomed, nor by any means pleasant to live with. However, it sure is a major motivation to improve your lifestyle and habits. Perceive it as a blessing that moved you towards a better life. Embrace it, as this disease is speeding your way up to a better life. All people, equally, come to the point in life where they are concerned about their health and make a thorough change to their lifestyle.

In today’s setting, people no longer have the luxury to neglect the body’s needs as we are moving towards a future filled with even more toxic environments and far away from nature where we belong. It may seem paradoxically, but you are a step ahead in terms of preserving health just by being blessed with a major problem directing your consciousness to what really matters – health!  

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How to Support Your Immune System? 

In this day and age, it is especially important for one to constantly work on supporting and improving immunity. We are living in an era in which the air is polluted, we rarely have a source of clean water to drink and most of the food we consume has been exposed to chemical treatments. This leads to the conclusion that our generations are facing so many immune compromising dangers, that our main focus should be supporting our immune system in order to maintain good health.

It is more crucial than ever that we arm our immune systems to help it protect and repair. Here are the proven ways to help you with that:

1. Eat a Healthy, Varied Diet

The food you chose to eat can be the main source of strength to your immunity or the main enemy that immunity keeps protecting you from. Your immune system strength greatly depends on what you eat. To optimize your immune health it is of utmost importance to eat clean, fresh fruits and vegetables that are organically grown and free of chemicals and pesticides. Not to mention that any artificial, processed food should be completely eliminated. 

Pesticides, heavy metals, artificial additives are found in most of the food available these days. This makes it twice as hard to find healthy food to eat and clean your body from the toxins, however, is of utmost importance. Practicing healthy eating and detoxing your liver and gut from chemicals and pesticides will give a break to your hardworking immunity.

Moreover, a healthy gut is another precursor that helps the body and thereby immune system feed on the needed nutrients. To support the flow of needed nutrients you need healthy gut bacteria which you can ensure by including supplements for your gut in your daily diet. This way you can establish a healthy gut and support nutrients absorption so you are sure that your immune system is receiving the needed ammo for the fight.  

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Best Foods to Eat for Strong Immunity

The body has certain nutritional requirements in order to survive, thrive and function properly. These include micro and macro nutrients among which: vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids,proteins – amino acids and enzymes. Each of these nutrients should comprise the food we consume daily, moreover, we need to consume many types of foods in order to satisfy the body’s nutritional needs. 

  • Vitamins & Minerals: vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, fish, meat, eggs, dairy
  • Carbohydrates: fruit, vegetables, grains, 
  • Proteins & amino acids: pseudo-grains, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, chlorella, spirulina, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, beef, eggs, raw dairy, poultry, fish
  • Enzymes: sprouts, soaked seeds, nuts, kombucha, vegetables, fruits, honey, kefir, yogurt

The diet should be adjusted to individual needs. Many people with chronic illness or autoimmune diseases are excluding certain foods from their diet. This, however, does not mean one should not include certain important nutrients, but they should make sure they are taking these nutrients through a source of food they are allowed/happy to include in their diet. 

Food rich with antioxidants should also comprise a large portion of the daily meals. Antioxidants rich food can help the body eliminate free radicals, which can cause damage to cells. Antioxidants can be found in many foods, but mostly in foods with darker colors; blueberries, grapes, black beans, beets and goji berries. Certain compounds found in these foods that give the dark color are also well-known for their antioxidant properties.

The color, actually, speaks a lot about the nutritional content of the food. For instance, red and orange vegetables and fruits have a high concentration of Vitamin C. Green vegetables are rich  in iron. These are dark leafy greens, such as spinach or kale. If you can say that you’ve eaten a palette of colors today you can rest assured you’ve fed your body with ll needed micronutrients.  

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2. Reduce Stress

When we are under stress, our body releases stress hormones that suppress the functioning and effectiveness of the immune system. A prolonged stress period can result in a reduced number of lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell that is an important part of the immune system.

Psychological stress is a major threat that can weaken the immune system. Therefore, it is very important to reduce stress by practicing mindfulness, act and react more relaxed in everyday life. Adding adaptogenic herbs like; ginseng, licorice root, ashwagandha, jiaogulan, moringa, to your daily routine is another effective way to help you stay focused and relaxed.

3. Get Enough Sleep

We’ve mentioned before that immunity not only does protect the body but it also focuses on regeneration, repair and healing. In most cases, our immune system is focusing on regeneration during sleep. By releasing certain proteins during sleep the immune system heals and fights off infection and inflammation. Sleep deprivation and tiredness may decrease the levels of the proteins and the immune system will fail to support healing. 

4. Move Your Body Regularly

Exercise directly affects the functioning of the lymphatic system, a system that we mentioned plays a role in the proper functioning of immunity. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport the fluid called lymph. This fluid contains infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. A passive lifestyle can lead to a clogged lymphatic system resulting in a buildup of toxins in the body and impaired immune function.

Any form of exercise is beneficial to the lymphatic system and helps the main function of the system; to help transport immune cells, and rid the body of toxins. Therefore, to support immune function and maintain overall health and well-being try to move your body regularly. 

How You Can Strengthen Your Immune System by Understanding Its Functions and Needs | The Health Sessions

5. Supplements

A natural, clean, and well-balanced mix of supplements derived from herbs can help support the building of the undefeatable immune system. If you wish to include supplements that support immune strength, here is what you may benefit from:

  • Monolaurin
  • R Lipoic acid
  • Ellagic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Co-Enzyme B complex

Conclusion

Poor nutrition, passive lifestyle, exposure to constant stress, polluted air and water, harmful medicaments, unclean environment, toxic chemicals, pesticides, depression, and lack of rest and good night’s sleep are the main factors that comprise immunity. To achieve strong immunity try to avoid the factors that compromise its response and support it as much as possible following the above-mentioned practices. 

Your immune system works 24/7 for your best interest. Do not try to sabotage it, help it and you will leave a long, healthy, and happy life!

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Posted by:

Jennifer Mulder


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01/01/2017
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