Discussions about immunity and the functions of our immune systems have been a part of our everyday life. Building your immune system is vital when you want to keep yourself and your family healthy. But how do you know if your immune system is strong, and how can you ensure it stays that way?
Signs Of A Weak Immune System
Our immune systems consist of organs, cells, and proteins that actively fight off infections. Your skin and mucous membranes are the body’s first line of defense against bacteria, viruses, and germs. The main components of your immune system include:
- White blood cells
- Lymphatic system
- Bone marrow
You may have a weak immune system if you feel tired often or have a persistent cough, runny nose, or other symptoms. Other indicators of a weak immune system include:
- High levels of stress
- Feeling tired all the time
- Frequently experiencing cold symptoms
- Experiencing stomach issues such as frequent diarrhea, gas, or constipation
- Cuts, burns, or scrapes healing slowly
- Suffering from infections several times during the year
Signs Of A Strong Immune System
We rely on our immune systems to fight off the flu, coronavirus, and other diseases and infections. Staying healthy means having a strong immune system. Some ways to support a strong immune system include:
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Reducing stress
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night
What Does It Mean To Have A Strong Immune System?
We all want to have a strong immune system to ward off illnesses and stay healthy. But what does it mean to have a strong immune system? A strong immune system protects the body from viruses and bacteria that try to invade and infect it. Infants and the elderly have weaker immune systems than those ages ten to fifty years old.
In some cases, a person’s immune system can be too strong. Allergies, asthma, eczema, and autoimmune disease are examples of what occurs when the immune system is overactive. In these cases, the immune system works too hard and fights itself. A blood test can compare red and white blood cells and levels of immunoglobulins to determine how well your immune system functions.
What Is The Purpose Of Your Immune System?
The primary purpose of the immune system is to guard our bodies against invaders that make us ill, such as:
The immune system consists of two main parts, the innate immune system, and the adaptive immune system. Your innate immune system is what you are born with. The adaptive immune system develops as your body gains exposure to microbes. These two immune systems work together to fight off sickness.
How Can You Strengthen The Immune System?
There are many steps you can take if you are interested in strengthening your immune system. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will ensure that your immune system is strong and able to protect you from illness all year long. Some ways to boost your immune system include:
- Washing your hands often
- Abstaining from smoking and alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Adopting a regular sleep schedule
- Cutting back on sugar
- Eating whole foods
- Maintaining positive relationships to ensure mental and emotional health
- Taking vitamins and supplements
How Do You Boost Immunity Naturally?
A healthy immune system is necessary to stay well, especially during a global pandemic. There are many lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to strengthen your immune system.
If you want to boost immunity naturally, you should start by reducing your sugar intake. Staying hydrated is also necessary for healthy cell function and immunity. Drinking green tea may also boost your body’s immunity naturally. You should also find healthy ways to lower your stress levels, such as meditation or yoga.
Do Supplements Help Strengthen The Immune System?
There is much debate about the question, “Do supplements help the immune system?”. While some experts believe that supplements do little to boost the immune system, some studies indicate otherwise. The vitamins and supplements that may aid in immunity include:
- Vitamin C - may reduce the duration of the common cold.
- Vitamin D - a deficiency in this vitamin increases your chances of getting sick, so taking this vitamin if you are deficient can aid your immune system.
- Zinc - may also reduce the duration of a cold
- Echinacea - some studies show that those who took echinacea during a cold recovered a bit more quickly than those who did not
- Elderberry - may reduce upper respiratory infection symptoms.
- Garlic - garlic supplements may reduce the chances of you getting the common cold by 30%
What Foods Help Strengthen The Immune System?
The foods you put into your body significantly affect your health and immunity. So what foods support the immune system? The following list of foods will help boost your body’s immunity naturally.
Whole Plant Foods
Whole plant foods are rich in antioxidants and nutrients that boost your body’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens. The antioxidants found in these foods help decrease inflammation and combat free radicals. Whole plant foods also contain fiber, which helps to improve the gut microbiome, improving immunity. Fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C help reduce the duration of some illnesses like the common cold. Examples of whole plant foods that you should incorporate into your diet to boost immunity include:
- Red Bell Peppers
- Sunflower Seeds
- Wheat germ
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to an injury or stress, but chronic inflammation suppresses the immune system. Healthy fats decrease inflammation and help boost the body’s response to pathogens. Healthy fats are found in:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Chia seeds
- Olive Oil
Fermented foods contain probiotics or beneficial bacteria. These healthy bacteria improve the immune system by populating the digestive tract to help combat invader organisms. Your gut health and your immunity go hand in hand. Eating fermented foods or taking a daily probiotic will benefit your gut. Foods to eat to improve gut health and immunity include:
There’s a reason why chicken noodle soup is a must-have when you’re feeling ill. Chicken and turkey contain high amounts of vitamin B-6, which plays a vital role in forming new red blood cells. The broth made by boiling chicken bones contains nutrients that help maintain a healthy gut and boost immunity.
Some varieties of shellfish contain high amounts of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that plays a vital role in healthy immune function. Types of shellfish that have a healthy helping of zinc include:
Garlic, Ginger, and Turmeric
These three ingredients pack a healthy punch when it comes to immunity-fighting properties. They have anti-inflammatory properties that help boost your immune system.
Is There A Strong Immune System Test?
Does a strong immune system test exist? There is a simple blood test that can measure your immunity. The test detects your level of natural immunity biomarkers. You can ask your doctor if they perform such testing, or you can use at-home kits you can order online. The home immune system test requires you to collect a small blood sample to send off to a lab for testing.