The immune system is the bodily system that protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing an immune response. It is a unique system inbuilt in humans from birth that defends the body on a daily basis. The word “immune” means “resistant or protected from.”
The immune system is complex. It comprises of special molecules, cells, organs, and chemicals that all work together in an organized system to create the body’s defense mechanism, which includes fighting infections caused by microbes and viruses.
The main components of the immune system are white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the bone marrows, the thymus and the spleen.
Imagine having an immune system so strong that you can be around those who are sick but not get their sickness? Wouldn’t that be amazing? You wouldn’t have to miss work or lie in bed all day, but you could power through the common cold and flu season untouched.
The key to this is a strong immune system. How can you boost your immune system when you’re sick? Better yet, how can you boost your immune system naturally?
The idea of boosting your immunity is exciting, but the ability to do so has proved elusive for several reasons. The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony.
Unfortunately, the immune system is under constant attack from circulating germs, bacteria and even more recently, the COVID-19. Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of infections.
Fortunately, all hope is not lost. There are various ways by which the immune system can be strengthened to prevent infections and diseases.
Diet and your immune system
Food is one of the most powerful tools we have to help prevent diseases and a healthy body begins with a healthy immune system. Over 70 percent of the immune system gains energy from the stomach and what we eat forms the foundation of our health.
Undoubtedly, it has been proven that eating healthy, nutrient-rich meals is vital for boosting immunity in people, including elderly individuals who are susceptible to diseases because of their geriatric concerns.
This pandemic has caused a panic in most parts of the world, and Nigeria has also experienced a second wave of the pandemic, which has led to devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of people across the nation.
Research has also shown that the corona virus attacks the immune system after its incubation period in the lungs of an individual. From there, it begins to invade the muscle tissue and joints of the infected person, and moves on to destroy other parts of the body.
Besides washing hands frequently, wearing face masks and covering of noses and mouth when they cough, many individuals have forgotten that eating healthy is also a fundamental method of combating diseases.
Eating healthy increases and boosts your immunity the healthy way. In fact, your first line of defense is to choose nutrient dense meals laden with proteins, fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Soybeans, groundnuts, lentils, garlic, turmeric and ginger are healthy food crops, which are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. They help to boost immune functions and aid in cellular repair.
Other nutrient dense foods like berries, almonds, beans and poultry are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. To have a strong immune system, your body needs a daily supply of quality proteins.
Research studies have shown that protein deficiency can result in the depletion of immune cells, and alter the ability of the body to make antibodies. So, it is sensible to eat quality protein meals, rich in super immune-enhancing elements.
Soybeans are healthful and rich in protein, giving them numerous nutritional uses. The antioxidants in soybeans help fight the free radicals that harm the immune system.
Berries pack a nutritious punch! They are known for their high antioxidant levels that combat oxidative stress and, in turn, boost the immune system. They also contain important phytochemicals and vitamins like vitamin C, which have been shown to help with immune-related illnesses.
Regular exercise 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.
But does it help to boost your immune system naturally and keep it healthy? Yes! Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore, to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good blood circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
Despite the concerns about COVID -19, it is essential to engage in exercises. This helps to improve the respiratory health of individuals, and it’s reasonable to consider moderate regular exercise to be a beneficial arrow in the quiver of healthy living, a potentially important means for keeping your immune system healthy along with the rest of your body.
Reginald Onabu, Researcher and Public Relations Officer, Writes from Lagos