It is our natural shield against external aggression. The immune system is the set of sophisticated mechanisms that defend our body from the onslaught of external threats, such as viruses, bacteria or other harmful substances that could damage our body.
Let us discover through this article what the immune system is, how it works and the best ways to improve it.
What is the immune system?
Our organism is equipped with an efficient defense system against agents extraneous to the organism: it is the immune system, composed of different cells, each one with specific functions, and circulating molecules that work together to recognize and eliminate foreign agents such as bacteria, parasites and viruses but also cells infected with pathogens and cancer cells.
Different cells, each one with specific functions, make up our immune system. Our immune systems are naturally alert and ready to intervene in case of emergency, putting into practice the necessary countermeasures to defend the organism and keep it healthy.
It is hard to see, but these attacks are common in our daily lives. When the immune system intervenes and manage to defeat the invader before it can spread, we feel no change. When our defenses do not immediately recognize the nature of the enemy, there are several symptoms that indicate the body is trying to cope with the infection.
How does the immune system work?
The immune system has three main functions:
-protects the organism from pathogens (external invaders causing diseases);
-removes damaged or dead cells and tissues and aged red blood cells;
-recognizes and removes abnormal cells, such as cancer cells (neoplastics).
Two types of internal immune response have been identified:
-innate immune response: general defense mechanism, present from birth, acting quickly (minutes or hours) and indiscriminately against any external agent;
-acquired immune response: develops slowly after the first encounter with a specific pathogen (within a few days), but retains memory to act more quickly following further future exposures.
Let us go figure out how to improve the immune system.
How to improve the immune system
How to improve the immune system? It is a good question. Improving the immune system is a need to provide when it is compromised or weakened by several factors such as stress, certain diseases, the excessive use of antibiotics, cold, season change, improper nutrition, inadequate night rest etc. In this case, the low immune defense leads to a greater susceptibility to infections (diseases caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites).
Today, the main causes of the weakening of the immune system are stress, some pathologies, the excessive use of antibiotics, various environmental factors (eg: cold, humidity, change of season, excessive sun exposure etc.), improper feeding, inadequate night rest, sedentary, physical fatigue, and advancing age.
How to boost immune system naturally
According to the unanimous opinion of the medical-scientific community, the best way to boost the immune system is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. With the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, any organ, apparatus and system of the human body - including the immune system - works better and more effectively.
Following some basic principles that provide a perfect combination of virtuous habits can help us in understanding how to improve the immune system.
A healthy lifestyle involves a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, do not smoke, do not exceed in the use of alcohol, keep under control body weight and blood pressure, sleep at least 7-8 hours per night, and scrupulously observe the rules of proper personal hygiene.
Let us deepen briefly these basic principles on how to improve the immune system:
-Physical activity. Sport helps to understand how to improve the immune system, but it is important to practice it in an intelligent and balanced way and without excesses;
-Maintenance of the normal body weight. This is closely connected with a balanced diet and constant exercise;
-The limitation of alcohol. Alcohol abuse seriously harms health and has a depressive effect on the immune system.
-Do not smoke. Among the innumerable damage caused by smoking, it is included the weakening of the immune system;
- Get enough sleep. During night sleep, the human body processes the proteins introduced with the diet and uses them to combat potential pathogens. Who do not sleep enough during the night, cannot use the proteins for this purpose, so they are more vulnerable to infections.
-Maintenance of normal blood pressure.
-Observe the rules of proper personal hygiene.
What about nutrition? Read on to learn about the immune system booster foods.
Immune system booster foods
The habit of consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains and yogurt, perhaps associated with the intake of prebiotics and probiotics (lactic ferments), and the good habit of limiting the intake of foods rich in saturated fats, are the basis of a correct diet that is able to improve the immune system.
There are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods that are particularly protective against feverish states: some examples are garlic, green tea without sugar, or spices such as turmeric and cinnamon that boost the immune system and have positive effects on health in general.
In fact, resistance to infections (which can be caused by viruses or bacteria) can be improved by providing the body with foods rich in antioxidants.
Have you read our article on the importance of antioxidants? Find it here!
Antioxidants are molecules that help our body to defend against the attack of harmful agents. They are able to prevent or repair the damage produced by free radicals.
The most powerful antioxidant foods that can help improve the immune system are kiwis, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and chicory, broccoli, cabbage, pineapple, tomatoes, peppers, vegetable oils (peanuts, corn, sunflower, extra virgin olive oil), hazelnuts, carrots, dried apricots, pumpkin, parsley and ripe.
If the correction of eating habits, sport, limitation of alcohol consumption etc. are not sufficient to boost the immune system, it is possible to use some resources that nature has always offered to the human being: medicinal plants with immunostimulant and adaptogen action. Another solution may be the use of vitamins for immune system.
Vitamins for immune system
There are specific vitamins useful to boost the immune system. Do you know the antioxidant power of vitamin C that is useful to improve the immune system? Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. In fact, a lack of Vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick.
Another vitamin that is considered helpful is vitamin D. It is advisable to use a vitamin D supplement in autumn, when there is little sunshine and this vitamin cannot be produced because there is no exposure of the skin to sunlight.
It would therefore be useful, following the advice of your doctor, to use a supplement of vitamin D and vitamin C in the period in which the flu is more widespread, or it would be better to use multivitamin supplements at low dosage throughout the year.
As we have seen, immune well-being also depends on diet, lifestyle and individual constitution. Take care of yourself and put these valuable tips on how to improve the immune system into practice. Did you find this article interesting? Let us know! 😊