The immune system defends the body against infections. Although it works effectively most of the time, sometimes our immune system fails and we get sick. Are there ways to boost our immune system and prevent disease? That’s what we’re about to find out.
Our immune system protects us from infection and disease, but is there a way to improve its functioning?
The immune system is a network of special cells, tissues, proteins and organs that work together to protect the body against potentially dangerous foreign invaders and disease. When our immune system is functioning properly, it detects threats, such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses, and triggers an immune response to destroy them. Our immune system can be divided into two parts: innate immunity and adaptive immunity.
Innate immunity is the natural protection we have at birth and our first line of defense. defense against infection. When it detects an infection, our innate response acts quickly to try to eliminate the invader by producing more mucus or raising the thermostat to induce a fever. Adaptive immunity is the protection we acquire throughout our lives by being exposed to diseases or being protected against them by vaccines. The adaptive system spots an enemy and produces the specific weapons, or antibodies, needed to destroy and eliminate the invader from the body.
The adaptive system can take between 5 and 10 days to identify the necessary antibodies and produce them in sufficient numbers to successfully attack an invader. During this time, the innate system keeps the pathogen at bay and prevents it from multiplying.
Can the immune system be stimulated?
As such, innate immunity cannot be “boosted”, nor would you want it to be. If the innate response were stimulated, you would constantly feel sick, with a runny nose, fever, lethargy and depression. The effectiveness of the adaptive response can be accelerated by vaccines. A vaccine contains a harmless version of the germ that you need to protect yourself against. The adaptive system remembers the invader so that the next time it comes into contact with the germ, it can act quickly to launch an attack.
While many products claim to boost immunity, the concept makes little scientific sense. Attempting to stimulate any cells is not necessarily a good thing and can lead to serious side effects. The immune system, in particular, contains several different cell types that react to various microbes in many ways.
Which cells to stimulate?
This is a question to which scientists currently do not know the answer. What researchers do know is that the body is constantly making immune cells called white blood cells, or leukocytes, and it is generating many more adaptive system cells, called lymphocytes, which turn into B cells and T cells as needed.
Excess cells destroy themselves through a process of natural cell death, called apoptosis. It is not known what is the best mix of cells or the optimum number of cells for the immune system to work best.
A weakened immune system: the various causes
In many people, the immune system works well to regulate itself and does not need help. However, in some people, medications or immune system disorders cause the immune system to become overactive or underactive.
– Primary immunodeficiency disorders are usually present from birth and are caused by the absence of certain parts of the immune system.
– Secondary immunodeficiency disorders occur when the immune system is compromised by environmental factors, including HIV, severe burns, malnutrition or chemotherapy.
– Allergies and asthma develop when the immune system reacts to substances that are not harmful.
– autoimmune diseases are conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks cells and tissues in the body. ‘organism.
– Immune system disorders are treated with specific medications that address symptoms and associated infections.
Impact of lifestyle on immune response
The main components of the immune system are the lymph nodes, tonsils, spleen, bone marrow and thymus.
Many Factors including diet, exercise and sleep can impact the immune response. However, much remains to be learned about the interconnectedness and intricacies of the immune response. To function well, the whole system needs harmony and balance. The immune system is not a single entity or force field that needs to be tinkered with to function properly.
The best thing you can do to preserve your immune system is to adopt healthy living strategies that will benefit your whole body, including your immune system. These strategies may include
– eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
– exercising regularly
– maintain a healthy weight
– quit smoking
– drink alcohol only in moderation
– get enough sleep
– avoid infections by washing your hands regularly
– reduce the stress
– Diet and immune system
A balanced diet and recommended amounts of nutrients contribute to maintain normal immune function
Vitamins A, C and D, as well as minerals, including zinc, play a role in the functioning of the immune system. If you eat a balanced diet, you won’t need to take supplements of these vitamins and minerals, and taking more of them won’t particularly help your immune system. Malnourished populations are known to be more susceptible to infections, and deficiencies in certain micronutrients have been shown to alter immune responses.
Vitamins and Minerals
For example, zinc deficiency has been shown to negatively impact how the immune system responds to inflammation in older adults.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for maintaining immune function. Vitamin D supplementation has been linked to alterations in the behavior of the immune system. Taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy, a time when the immune system is constantly changing, can alter the newborn’s immune system to protect against respiratory infections and asthma.
Research suggests that vitamin D activates T cells which can identify and attack cancer cells and protect against colorectal cancer in some people. In the elderly, vitamin D has also been shown to reduce respiratory infections.
6 Foods That Positively Affect the Immune Response
Studies have focused on how certain foods or specific diets can affect the immune response.
1 Soluble fiber makes cells pass immune systems from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory, which helps us heal faster from infections.
2 Pterostilbene and resveratrol, found in blueberries and red grapes respectively, help increase the expression of the human CAMP (cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide) gene, which is involved in immune function. The CAMP gene plays an essential role in the innate immune system.
3 Probiotics can help counter the adverse effects of broad-spectrum antibiotics by keeping the immune system ready to respond to new infections .
4 DHA-rich fish oil improves B-cell activity, which could be promising for people with weakened immune systems.
5 Prolonged fasting has been associated with stem cell regeneration of old and damaged immune cells.
6 Curcumin, found in curry and turmeric, may help the immune system to rid the brain of beta-amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
High-fat, high-calorie diets trigger an immune system response similar to bacterial infection . Researchers suggest that eating unhealthy foods makes the body’s defenses more aggressive long after switching to a healthy diet, which can contribute to diseases like arteriosclerosis and diabetes.
Exercise and the immune system
Like a healthy diet, regular physical activity contributes to overall good health and, therefore, to a healthy immune system. healthy immune. Exercise promotes efficient blood circulation, which allows immune system cells to move so they can do their job effectively. A study found that 17 Only minutes of moderate exercise stimulated the immune system, which in turn produced an anti-inflammatory cellular response.
Researchers noted that their discovery had encouraging implications for people with chronic conditions including arthritis and fibromyalgia and obesity.
Further research has found that the best way to To avoid negative changes in the immune system and to help the body recover after strenuous exercise was to consume carbohydrates during or after. The authors of the article suggest that a consumption of 22 at 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during physical activity may help maintain normal immune function.
Other immune response factors
– In addition to a balanced diet and regular exercise, scientists have found evidence for the existence of other factors that may affect the immune system response.
– Chronic sleep deprivation can decrease immune system response and white blood cell circulation, while adequate slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep, enhances the immune system’s memory of pathogens that have been encountered previously.
– Being out in the sun has been shown to benefit the immune system. Getting out in the sunlight can benefit the immune system. Researchers have found that sunlight energizes T cells which fight infections and play a key role in immunity. Specifically, the blue light found in sunlight causes T cells to move faster, which can help them reach the site of an infection and react faster.
– Reducing stress can also contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system.
– A study found that the anticipation of a happy or funny event increased levels of endorphins and other hormones that induce a state of relaxation. Chronic stress can suppress the immune system’s response and its ability to fight disease: therefore, reducing stress can help prevent infections and other disorders.
– It has been found that singing in a choir for an hour reduced stress, improved mood and increased immune protein levels in people with cancer and their caregivers. Study results show that something as simple as singing can help reduce stress-related immune system suppression.
– Loneliness has also been identified as a stressor that can affect the immune system. Research has indicated that people who felt lonely produced higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in response to stress than those who felt socially connected. to inflammation are associated with conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis.
Although many questions remain about the functioning of the immune system, it is clear that following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and reducing stress go a long way towards maintaining your immunity.
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