What is the Immune System?
Preventing or limiting infection within the body is the immune system’s primary function.
In this blog, you will find 15 tips on boosting your immune system with simple lifestyle, herbal and nutritional changes.
Think of the immune system as a giant network – made of organs, white blood cells, and proteins – in the body that fights to prevent or limit infection against viruses, parasites, fungi, bacteria, and weird, foreign objects. Whoa, what a mouth full! No worries, we’ll break it down for the readers now.
The body makes up of several different cells that play unique roles in the body, all communicating and performing differently. For everything to run smoothly, the immune system must recognize between “self” and “non-self” cells, substances, and organisms. “Non-self” substances are known as antigens, including proteins on the surface of fungi, viruses, and bacteria. “Self” substances superficial proteins of our very own cells. From a young age, the body learns to identify these cells. However, when it recognizes its own body as “non-self” and decides to fight, it is called an autoimmune reaction.
To understand how to boost the immune system, we better dissect these a bit further:
- Allergies and asthma: Immune-mediated inflammatory responses occur when the body overreacts to an allergen (which are harmless environmental substances like ragweed or dust). Symptoms may include asthma, trouble breathing, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and food allergies.
- Immune deficiency diseases: If the immune system lacks one or more pieces, it may react too slowly and acts as a threat. Conditions like drug-induced immune deficiency and HIV/AIDS are due to impairment within an immune system. Infections can be deadly.
- Autoimmune diseases: Unknown triggers cause the immune system to attack its own body’s cells and tissues in autoimmune diseases like lupus, IBD, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.
Here’s where we dive a little bit deeper:
Yes! It’s complicated and pervasive. It works hard to distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells. If it does not work properly, people are at risk of disease, allergies, or even cancer.
They recognize a variety of “danger” cues known as danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Cells are typically unhealthy due to cellular damage due to a non-infection agent, like a sunburn or cancer. Viruses and bacteria are other types of infectious microbes that set off signatures recognized by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).
When the signal alerts the immune system, it immediately begins to respond. When the immune system is challenged or unable to react fast enough, a problem arises, such as an infection. An allergic reaction or autoimmune disease may occur if the immune response is activated without a real threat or does not signal does not turn off once the danger passes.
Thankfully, the body is always adapting and learning to fight against bacteria and viruses that change in time. Boosting the immune system does not have to be such a fight with these tips:
- Echinacea: Herb with immunostimulant properties, especially the treatment of an upper respiratory infection.
- Elderberry: A commonly known herbal immune booster, elderberries fight colds, flu, allergies, and inflammation. Found in the berries and flowers of the elder plant.
- Astragalus root: Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, it demonstrates success when improving the toxicity induced by drugs, such as cancer chemotherapies and immunosuppressants.
- Ginseng: Regulating each type of immune cell – macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells- works as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections.
- Bone broth: Goes great in a chicken noodle soup, all while promoting the reduction of inflammation and boost gut health.
- Ginger: Heavily relied on history, ginger has substantial antimicrobial potential, which helps when treating infectious diseases.
- Green Tea: This afternoon, delight works hard to strengthen the immune system acting as an antifungal and antiviral agent.
- Vitamin C Foods: Pineapple, honeydew, parsley, green and red bell peppers, and citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C foods that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Beta-Carotene meals: Packed with flavor, color, and robust antioxidant activity, allow these foods to reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress. Including some of our favorites, you can find at the farmers market: carrot juice, pumpkin, sweet potato, red bell peppers, kate, spinach, collard greens, and apricots.
- Zinc: Fight the common cold with zinc-sufficient foods such as whole wheat grains, milk products, red meat, and oysters.
You might think that “self-care” is done naturally, but it’s not. It requires the body to connect with the mind and soul. One must genuinely reflect and gain motivation to meet their body’s needs with your intentions. Providing yourself with a bit of “self-care” requires a bit of attention to yourself, especially during trying times. When you take care of yourself, you will have better health in the long run. Lifestyle changes can contribute to strengthening your immunes system:
- Exercise: Get 30 minutes of exercise a day or more to boost the body’s tolerance. Lift weights, walk your dog or do some yoga.
- Reduce stress: Stress exacerbates pathological immune responses, reducing the tension in your life will strengthen your body’s line of defense. Try meditation!
- Improve sleep: Lack of sleep means a lack of an immune system. Sleep-deprived adults are more susceptible to common colds. Perfect – An excellent excuse for an afternoon nap!
- Limit alcohol consumption: Physicians say to limit your ‘drinkin’ to 2 beverages or less a week to keep your body’s immune system on top-notch for fighting off infections. Alcohol lowers your immune system’s response.
As always, give your Doc or nutritionist a jingle before using natural remedies, especially if you’re already taking prescriptions. Revert back to our directory to find a local partner we trust. It’s good to partner up with a health professional to get your immune system back on track. Dr. Axe wants to remind us of that risk, and side effects may occur; many essential oils, herbs, and supplements are incredibly potent and shouldn’t be taken more than two weeks at a time.
Take home notes:
Our immune system works in an interactive network of organs, cells, and proteins to fight viruses, bacteria, or foreign objects. If you do not notice it, it’s probably correctly working. When you face illness, it’s probably not doing a hot job. Pay attention to your body. Changes in the lifestyle, adding nutrition and minerals, or herbs do a high position to prevent and fight off infections.
Read more about how there are several lines of defense the immune system takes to protect the body.