3 Ways to Boost Immunity


Are you tired of falling sick with every changing season? Or is your number of sick leaves increasing every month? Missing work and family time often due to sickness?

We understand that changing seasons and spreading epidemics can be worrying about one’s health. Not only they bring physical and mental challenges but they also adversely impact your wallet.

But what can be done on your side to escape these miseries you may ask?

Well, the best way to limit your sick days is by boosting your immunity. Yes, rather than spending a large amount of money on medicines and hospitals along with the trouble, it is better to prophylactically incorporate measures that can strengthen your body’s natural defense system. So below are three simple ways how you can boost your immunity, but before that let’s learn how the defense system in the body works.

What is the Immune System?

The immune system is a sum of special cells, organs, and chemicals that actively fight infections and harmful substances in your body- an activity labeled as immunity.

What Constituents the Immune System?
The main parts of the immune system are:

Also known as leukocytes, the WBCs are different types of blood cells that form the major part of the immune system. They include:

  • Phagocytes: cells that eat any invading organism and foreign substances entering the body.

  • Neutrophils: cells that specifically target bacteria and are the first cells to reach the site of injury. A specific increase in neutrophils is seen in blood reports in cases of bacterial infections.

  • Lymphocytes: cells that play an important role in immunity by recognizing infectious organisms and remembering them for future defenses. There are two types of lymphocytes: B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. These are classified according to their site of migration after their production from bone marrow and their mechanism of fighting against diseases. Cells that stay in bone marrow after birth and mature are known as B cells. And those that migrate to the thymus and have maturation there are known as T cells.

  • B cells recognizing invaders and secrete antibodies that isolate them out, locking them in one place.

  • Whereas the T cell directly destroys the microbes presented to them by B-lymphocytes and other cells of the immune system and are therefore known as killer cells.

These are special proteins secreted by B-cells that not only lockdown and isolate invaders but also neutralize toxins (poisonous or damaging substances) produced by them.

Complement System
These are another set of proteins and glycoproteins that are secreted by various tissues and cells of the body such as liver, macrophages, blood monocytes, and special cells of the digestive and urinary tract. They enhance the activity of antibodies and phagocytic cells to destroy microbes and the infected cells.

How Does the Immune System Work?
Whenever the cells in the body identify a foreign substance (virus, bacteria, toxins, etc.) the immune system of the body is activated. The specialized cells of the immune system such as the neutrophils, phagocytes, and lymphocytes are recruited to the invaded site where they work together to kill the invading substance aka the antigen. The phagocyte eats the antigen whereas the neutrophils release the cytokines that kill the invader. The B lymphocyte assists by secreting antibodies that lock the antigen in one place for the effective action of other cells to occur.

This is similar to the working of most of the vaccines. A small dose of antigen is introduced in the body that is significant in quantity to activate the immune system to produce antibodies but not enough to cause infection. These antibodies then persist in the body throughout life and prevent any future infection from that agent.

How Many Types of Immunity Are There?
Humans have three types of immunity — innate, adaptive, and passive:

  1. Innate immunity: or the natural built-in immunity that is present in our body since birth. These include examples of skin: acting as a barrier from the environment and mucous membranes: clearing the respiratory and digestive tracts of infectious organisms.

  2. Adaptive immunity: or active immunity is what we acquire throughout our life. This is activated when the first line of innate immunity is unable to control the invading insult. It is developed and enhanced with exposure of antigens and with immunization with vaccines.

  3. Passive immunity: or the borrowed immunity is short-lived support that is taken from another human or living being. Examples include antibodies that are transferred to a newborn from the mother via breast milk.

Why Is Immunity Necessary?

  • To prevent infections and diseases caused by microbes such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi by removing them from the body.

  • To fight against toxic substances entering the environment into the body.

  • To fight against chronic harmful changes that lead to serious diseases such as cancers.

How You Can Boost Your Immune System?
Now that we understand how the immune system works in the body, let us focus on how we can maintain it in an excellent state. Many factors contribute to strengthening the immune system. These include sleep, diet, activity levels and environmental effects. Incorporating healthy changes in your lifestyle accordingly is the easiest yet the most effective measure. Following are three simple ways that can boost your immunity:

1. Eat Healthily:
The oldest trick in books is eating healthy. Over 70% of your immune system is situated in your gut and therefore your diet forms the foundation of your health. Dietary deficiencies can thus impair your immune function and increase both the risk and severity of infections.

Try to stick to a balanced healthy diet regularly even if all the junk food looks appealing. Include fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish in your diet. Aim for foods that are rich in vitamins and essential minerals such as citrus fruits, grains. dairy products, nuts, fish, seeds, beans, mushrooms, whole grains, dark leafy greens, and dried fruits as well as avocados, tofu, shellfish, cheese.

Another most important measure is planning your meals to include ingredients with special immunity-boosting properties such as Dark chocolate, oily fish, spinach, ginger, berries, green teas, turmeric, etc.

For instance: turmeric has proven anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-cancer activity known for centuries. It also has a strong anti-oxidant property that detoxifies the body of injurious chemicals and decreases exercise-induced muscle damage.

2. Quit Bad Habits:
This includes cutting on smoking and alcohol intake that adversely affects the immune system. Alcohol impacts negatively by disrupting the normal flora of the gut that is a barrier against infectious microbes, allowing more toxic antigens to enter the blood and cause infection. Excessive drinking also decreases the number of specialized immune cells and cause dysfunction in remaining.  

Tobacco smoking, on the other hand, increases the risk of acquiring infection by decreasing the levels of protective antioxidants (such as vitamin C), in the blood. Nicotine, the main constituent of tobacco smoke is a major immunosuppressant, which inhibits both the innate and adaptive immune responses in the body.

3. Sleep Adequately
During sleep, the body releases protective cytokines that have anti-inflammatory actions. Therefore, the absence of good quality sleep or simply sleep deprivation can make your body more vulnerable to infectious agents with decreasing secretion of cytokines.