By Dr. Pran Rangan
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the people have been taking the required precautions like the use of mask, social distancing, minimal personal interactions, etc. Despite the observance of these measures, it is quite important that one should possess good immunity to fight the new Corona virus infection and other illnesses.
The immune system is essential for our survival. Without it our bodies would be open to attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. It keeps us healthy as we come across a large number of pathogens.
It is spread throughout the body and involves many types of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. It has special ability to distinguish our tissue from foreign tissue. Dead and faulty cells are also recognized and cleared away by it.
If it encounters a pathogen, a bacterium, virus, or parasite, it mounts a so-called immune response. An immune response is a reaction which occurs in our body for the purpose of defending against foreign invaders. A toxin or other foreign substance, which induces an immune response in the body thereby producing antibodies, is called antigen.
Central to its ability to mobilize a response to an invading pathogen, toxin or allergen is its ability to distinguish self from non-self. The host uses both innate and adaptive mechanisms to detect and eliminate pathogenic microbes.
Innate immunity is the defense system with which we are born. Innate immunity involves barriers that keep harmful materials from entering our body. These barriers form the first line of defense in the immune response.
If pathogens successfully evade the innate response, we possess a second layer of protection, the adaptive immune system, which is activated by the innate response. It adapts its response during an infection to improve its recognition of the pathogen. This response is retained after the pathogen has been eliminated in the form of an immunological memory, which allows the adaptive immune system to mount faster and stronger attacks each time this pathogen is encountered.
8 Tips to enhance immunity –
The following are important tips that will help us to enhance our immunity:
Have an adequate sleep –
Sleep and immunity are closely linked. During sleep, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when we have an infection or inflammation, or when we are under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when we don’t get enough sleep.
It is normally recommended that adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, whereas teens need 8-10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours.
Eat more whole plant foods –
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens by boosting immunity. By eating all different colors of plant-based foods, we are more likely to get a strong and varied nutritional profile. In fact, whole foods, plant-based diet contains 64-times the amount of immunity-boosting antioxidants compared to a diet that includes meat and dairy.
Eat healthy oil –
Healthy fats like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil and foods rich in omega-3s are highly anti-inflammatory. Since chronic inflammation can suppress our immune system, these fats may naturally combat illnesses. A low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury.
Reduce stress –
The stress suppresses it, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. It is difficult to define stress. Most scientists studying the relationship of stress and immune function, however, do not study a sudden, short-lived stressor; rather, they try to study more constant and frequent stressors known as chronic stress.
Do regular exercise –
The regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to a healthy immune system. It may contribute by promoting good circulation, which allows its cells and substances to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
Stop smoking –
Smoking can suppress it because nicotine can lead to decreased neutrophilic phagocytic activity. It can also inhibit the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) thus impairing the ability of neutrophils to kill pathogens. Within the lungs, smoking triggers a release of inflammatory agents that lead to persistent chronic inflammatory syndrome.
Meditate daily –
It has been found that the benefit we experience from meditation isn’t strictly psychological; there is a clear and quantifiable change in how our bodies function. Meditation is one of the restorative activities that may provide relief for our immune systems, easing the day-to-day stress of the body.
Limit added sugar –
When we eat a big dose of sugar, we temporarily damp down our immune system’s ability to respond to challenges. The effect lasts for several hours. So if you eat sweets several times a day, it may be perpetually operating at a distinct disadvantage. Further eating sugary foods can produce excessive inflammation that serves no useful purpose but promotes aging and disease.
The bottom line –
Our immune system is essential for our survival. Our lifestyle can affect how well it can protect us from germs, viruses, and chronic illnesses. Replacing bad health habits with good ones can help keep it healthy. The above tips if followed adequately can go a long way toward strengthening our immunity.
Our immune system is crucial for our survival since it helps us protect from myriads of illnesses. Our lifestyle is closely linked to our immunity. By adopting the tips mentioned in the article, we can enhance our immunity.
Dr. Rangan is a physician with an expertise in writing articles on health related topics. His areas of special interest are cardiology, diabetes and exercise and fitness.