by Debbie Neumayer
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Today, more than ever, people are interested in keeping their bodies strong and resistant to disease. The first thing you want to do to is fortify your immune system. First of all, you may ask: what is the immune system? The short answer: it’s the body’s internal defense arsenal that works 24/7 to protect you against foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, molds, and parasites.
The organization of organs and cells comprising this amazing system is very complex. Each component has a specialized job to perform in keeping you healthy. The immune system begins in your throat with your adenoids and tonsils, and ends in your gastrointestinal tract. In between those two areas are lymph tissue, specialized immune cells, the spleen, and complementary helpers such as the liver and kidneys.
The good news is that when one or more organs of the immune system are removed or out of commission, other areas can work to take up the slack. Following are some basic ways you can keep your immune system fit.
1. Eat a nutritious diet—Fortify the health of your cells against disease and boost immune function with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are especially helpful. You'll find a varied array of nutrients in a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and other whole food products. Try and go easy on meat as a focal point of your meal, and fill your plate instead with complementary proteins such as brown rice and black beans. Stir frying is a great way to integrate meat into your meal and get a hefty portion of veggies at the same time. A fruit or vegetable salad will also supply a tasty source of antioxidant and mineral-rich foods. Add raw or lightly toasted nuts for added crunch and nutrition.
2. Drink plenty of pure water--You know the importance of washing your hands to eliminate germs from your skin. Well, keeping hydrated will help wash them away from your insides, as well! Drinking enough water will help your body naturally eliminate toxins and other pathogens that may cause illness. According to health experts, the rule of thumb is “take your weight and divide by two.” That resulting number of pounds is roughly the number of ounces of pure water you should consume each day to keep the body’s cells, tissues, and organs hydrated and detoxified. You can’t cheat and use soft drinks in place of water because they actually dehydrate you. Avoid fluoridated, chlorinated tap water. Instead, invest in a good water purifier and read the specs before purchasing to see what contaminants it actually filters from the water.
3. Get enough sleep—Did you know that your body works tirelessly while you’re asleep? Because metabolism is at its slowest during slumber, the body can redirect its energies toward revitalization. It takes this crucial period to recharge and also conduct immune system repair. Research shows that sound sleep improves T-cell response. T-cells are immune soldiers that help cells resist pathogens, including viruses, that can invade these cells and cause disease. If you short-change yourself on sleep (less than a minimum of eight hours), it will let you know by making you sleepy until you repay the deficit (time actually lost). If you chronically avoid the drowsiness and worse yet, take drugs to keep you awake, you could set yourself up for immune-related disorders (like cancer) down the road. So treasure your sleep time!
4. Exercise regularly--Regular exercise promotes better circulation, including improved circulation of the immune system's white blood cells throughout the body. White blood cells called " macrophages" (big eaters) are like Pac-Man. They protect the body against disease by attacking viruses and bacteria and literally engulfing them! Any way you choose to do exercise, the main thing is to just move. A daily workout lasting at least 30 minutes is ideal. However, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a large time block to invest. The key is to keep exercising regularly (at least 3-4 times a week). Mental wellness is a positive side benefit of working out regularly. Exercise boosts the body’s production of special stress-relieving brain hormones called "endorphins" that make you happy and glad to be alive!
Sometimes we feel that we don't have power over things in our lives. Well, your health is something that is within your control. Start today in a positive direction and reap the rewards. Health truly IS wealth!