You must have been hearing your mom saying to you that don’t go out in the cold without getting yourself covered. When she says this, it means your immune system cannot withstand the wrath of the weather.
So, what does this immune system mean? Is it one of the organ systems of our body that make our lives? Let’s take a bird’s eye view of this system and dig deep into what boosts the immune system.
What is the Immune System?
Our Immune system is a combination of special organs; complex cell networks and proteins that help our body fight against infections.
Quite interestingly our immune system keeps a record of every germ it fights with so that the next time the same can be killed quicker than before.
Parts of Immune System
- White blood cells
- Bone marrow
- Lymphatic system
- Complement system
Symptoms of a Weak Immune System (Immunodeficiency)
- You catch a cold, flu, get sore throat quite earlier than others and frequently
- You frequently have digestive system problems like diarrhea, cramping, nausea
- Delay in growth and development
- Autoimmune diseases, such as type-1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus
- Low platelets
- Infection of certain organs and inflammation
How to check your immune system
You may wonder how to check your immune system if the symptoms are obvious like mentioned above. Well, there’re certain tests that are used to diagnose your immune system including a blood test or Prenatal testing for the parents having children with primary immunodeficiency.
How to Build a Strong Immune System
1. What Food Boost your Immune System fast
Following is the exhaustive list of food that boosts your immune system. Variety should be taken instead of taking one particular food, keeping in mind the daily minimum intake of each of them. If you are curious to know how to increase immunity with home remedies, the following is exactly what you are looking for.
Watermelon is one of the fruits that boost the immune system many-fold. The quick and easy to slice this big tank of water (about 90% water) has 270mg of potassium, about 18% of the requirement of Vitamin A and about 21% of vitamin C. A strong Immune system means lesser chances of cancer, heart diseases, low inflammation and stress, muscle soreness.
A study at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Vitamin C strengthens our immune system by actively involved in the cellular function of both the natural and adaptive immune system
You may use it as per your likeness. Cut it with any slicer, make a fruit salad and dress it with honey and salt.
Oranges and lemon
Oranges and lemon belong to a class called Citrus. It’s rich in vitamin C, one of the immune system booster vitamins. It may sound odd to have these when you have caught flu or influenza, but surprisingly for many, it boosts the immune system. Unlike fats, your body does not store the vitamins that are not fat-soluble.
However, once cold starts it is not recommended to take vitamin C food, especially the sour ones like orange and lemon.
Other sources of vitamin C include Kiwi, Broccoli, Strawberries, Brussels, Grapefruit, Tomato Cabbage, Potato, Spinach, and Green Peas, in the order of high to less. (Source: National Institute of Health)
Capsicum or red peppers
Red Pepper is another source of vitamin C, which is about 181% of an avg. 2000 calorie diet. It also has plenty of vitamin A, that’s helpful in normal vision, immune system, and reproduction. Cooking it is fine as well, but nutritionists say that chopping and using it raw is healthier.
Not only Garlic strengthens your immune system, but it also prevents you from certain heart diseases, cancer, and microbial infections. According to a study, published by the National Institute of Health, Garlic stimulates immune cells.
For centuries garlic has been used for the treatment of many compromised immune system diseases. Its bioactive compound, Allicin, has great anti-bacterial properties. Its anti-inflammatory property also supports the strengthening of the immune system.
People taking garlic regularly in their diet, like in the food or sometimes in raw form even, is less likely to catch seasonal diseases like flu or cold. Even they catch they can recover faster than the ones who don’t use garlic at all. Slicing or crushing it with any garlic presser, it’s up to you.
We all know chicken soup is the most recommended dish when we have flu or cold. But does this meal really have medical properties in it?
According to research, it may have an anti-inflammatory effect which helps to ease respiratory infection.
One of the reasons might be the fact that its ingredients have plenty of minerals and vitamins. For example, carrot in the soup provides vitamin A which plays a significant role in the immune response.
Do you know?
“A vitamin is a substance that makes you ill if you don’t eat it.” (Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1937).
Food Rich In Vitamin D
A recent study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), USA, conducted by three renowned researchers from the US and Japan concluded that despite many open questions vitamin D does metabolites and helped in combating autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D is excessively found in fatty fish including Salmon, milk, and beef liver, egg York, cheese, etc. Also, one of the biggest sources of this vitamin is exposure to sunlight.
Foods Rich in Vitamin A
Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, stored in the liver, on the other and also been proved to have a promoting and regulatory role in the natural and adaptive immune system. Besides enhancing our immune it provides an enhanced defense against certain infectious diseases, according to a study published at NIH.
Vitamin A is rich in animal products such as fish, meat, fortified cereals (as per a fact sheet by National Institute of Health USA)
2. A Healthy Lifestyle Can Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Now you have got an idea as to what foods boost your immune system, it’s time to look at other ways as well. Food, no doubt is long-term a permanent solution to increase your immunity, yet your lifestyle does matter a lot. Adopting the following lifestyle may be the right solution to primary immunodeficiency.
- QUIT SMOKING. Smoking not only increases the risk of cancer but weakens your immune system, both natural and adaptive.
- DAILY EXERCISE. Regular exercise, on the one hand, keeps you active and on the other hand mobilizes your T cells. T cells help your body fight against infections. It’s one of the best ways to boost your immune system naturally.
- MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT. A height-weight chart can be helpful to check if you’re over-weight or under-weight.
- REDUCE SUGAR AND ALCOHOL INTAKE. Does alcohol weaken your immune system? Yes, absolutely. High intake of sugar and alcohol reduces the ability of White Blood cells to fight against infections and therefore should be reduced used as much as possible
- COMPLETE SEVEN HOURS OF SLEEP. While sleep time differs from individual to individual, an average of seven hours of sleep at night is said to be enough.
- WASH YOUR HANDS REGULARLY. Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Persons with a weak immune system are more prone to digestive and respiratory system diseases.
- REDUCE STRESS. Does stress weaken your immune system? Yes, to a larger extent it does. One way to reduce this is to make an environment of your surroundings calm and soothing. Like using an oil diffuser in your room.
3. Dog Ownership and Immunity
Recent studies have shown that petting animals like dogs increase one’s immunity. The probable reason is the engagement with the pet, walking running and leading a less stressful life.
A research was conducted at the State University of New Jersey, an American public research university, which specifically targeted the areas of pet ownership and its effects on the immune system in different age groups.
In their pilot studies of 136 responses, they found that pet ownership decreased the frequency of illness compared to non-pet owners. Children from 3 to 6 ages had the lowest rate of sickness, sickness duration and might have developed a strong immune system because of exposure to pets from an early age.
So, it’s highly recommended to be in friendship with your pet and spend time with him.
Apart from the pure natural ways of improving one’s immune, you may see the shelves of pharmacies full of capsules and pills described as the best supplements to boost the immune system. According to a study by Harvard Medical School professor, Michael Sternbach, the supplement doesn’t really help in fighting diseases. He further says that anything that claims to increase your immune system abruptly can trigger autoimmunity and other issues.
Similar views are given by other nutritionists about the synthetic drinks to boost the immune system
In a nutshell, including the best food as mentioned above in your daily diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle can boost your immune system fast, without any external supplement. The stronger your immune is, the lesser the chances of getting infected by pandemic viruses.