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Immunity means if you’re protected against something, you are unaffected by it. The immune system, on the other hand, is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. For example, if you get drenched in the rain and walk into an air-conditioned room, there are chances of you catching a cold. Why does this happen? The answer is that disease-causing microbes and viruses are present everywhere. Similarly, have you ever thought of how many microbes and viruses are there on that door you just opened? These microbes and viruses are called pathogens. However, the stronger immune system helps us fight off such diseases. This article is about signs of low immunity, how to boost your immune system and Health Total’s immunity booster plan.
Types of Immunity
There are two main types of immunity – innate, also called as natural or inherited, and adaptive.
Innate immunity: Innate immunity refers to nonspecific defense mechanisms that come into play immediately or within hours of an antigen’s appearance in the body. These mechanisms include physical barriers such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and immune system cells that attack foreign cells in the body.
Adaptive immunity: Adaptive immunity refers to antigen-specific immune response. It is more specific and saves us from certain death by infection. For example, a person who recovers from measles is protected for life against measles by the adaptive immune system. The adaptive immune system is further divided into:
- Passive immunity: This occurs when antibodies are passed from one person to another, for example, through transfusion.
- Active immunity: This involves two types of white blood cells – T-cells and B-cells.
Effects of Aging
Effects of Aging on Immune System
As you grow older, your immune system slows down its response. This increases the risk of you falling sick and your body will take some time to heal as there are not many cells to bring about healing. However, there are ways to decrease the risks of immune system aging. For example, take Vitamin E supplements. They help fight radical attacks, thus preventing damage to the cells.
How To Boost
Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Illness can happen in the blink of an eye. One day you feel good and the next day you are down with the flu. If you’re looking for ways to prevent common illnesses such as cold and flu, include these in your meals to boost your immune system:
Vitamin C found in high concentration in oranges, lemon, limes, and grapefruit, boosts the activity of phagocytes (cells that engulf and digest bacteria) in the blood. These are key to fighting flu and infections. But because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health.
Garlic, Ginger, and Mushroom
Believe it or not, garlic can do wonders to your health. It not only boosts your immune system but also helps prevent heart diseases. Blend together pesto with raw garlic and throw it over a pasta or bread. Or whip up a spicy, homemade immunity shot with raw garlic, ginger, carrots, and lemon for a quick system boost. Similarly, ginger helps decrease inflammatory diseases, nausea, chronic pain, and cholesterol. Lastly, medical experts in China believe that mushrooms increase immunity and promote conversion of cancer cells to normal cells.
Vitamin E is key to the healthy immune system, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts like almonds are full of vitamins and also have healthy fats. Make a half-cup serving of almonds part of your daily diet – but keep the skins on – to fight off cold.
Sipping tea in the morning or before bedtime is relaxing, thanks to its nutritional benefits. Peppermint tea can help with indigestion, bloating and IBS, however, studies suggest that black and green teas are rich in antioxidants and may have cancer-fighting properties.
For a healthy body, it is must to have a healthy lifestyle such as exercise, good sleep, and meditation. Your immune system responds to workouts by producing more of the blood cells that attack bacterial invaders. And the more regularly you workout, the more long-lasting the changes become. But that doesn’t mean you have to turn into a fitness fanatic. Merely going for a walk or doing yoga a few times in a week will help your immune system stay in shape.
Drink Lemon, Ginger, Honey, and Turmeric with Warm Water
This magical elixir boosts your immune system. Honey, an antioxidant, acts as a natural immunity booster, while ginger, another powerful antioxidant with antiviral properties, can be used to treat nausea and motion sickness. Lemon juice is high in Vitamin C, hence it helps to prevent cold.
Yogurt for Breakfast
Probiotics, or the “live active cultures” found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut free of disease-causing germs. Yogurt can also be a great source of Vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system and also boosts our body’s natural defenses against diseases.
Not only are eggs a rich source of protein and iron, but they also contain Vitamin A [Ref] which is important for the immune system. Vitamin A has important antioxidant properties that help fight bacteria and viruses.
Watching television till late in the night isn’t recommended, but a few episodes of your favorite comedy show are beneficial. Laughter can give your immunity an easy boost. Laughing lowers stress levels and can promote sleep, both crucial for a healthy body.
Apart from these, you can also try our delicious immunity recipes to boost your immune system. These recipes will keep you strong in all weathers.
Four Immune-boosting Fruits
Fruits have a lot more to offer the immune system than just vitamins and minerals. The phytonutrients, antioxidants, fibers, oils, and acids in fruits, which are responsible for their various flavors and colors, are also responsible for their many immune-modulating properties. Add these fruits to your diet to boost immunity:
- Kiwifruit: Kiwis are high in Vitamin C content – containing more of the vitamin than even an orange. The kiwifruit may be small in size, but it packs a powerful immune-boosting punch. Packed with Vitamins C, B6, B12, K, zinc, folate, fiber, and other nutrients, it is known for preventing a cold or sickness.
- Blueberries: They are high in Vitamins C and A, which is involved with antibody production. Resveratrol found in red grapes and pterostilbene found in blueberries, combined with vitamin D could boost the body’s ability to fend off illness. The sweet-tart taste of blueberries makes it a wonderful addition to a salad, cereal, and more.
- Papaya: Not everyone loves papaya, but those who love it, find it hard to get by a morning without digging into a bowl of papayas. A single papaya contains over 200% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, making it great for your immunity. Know more about other benefits of papaya [Ref] here.
- Strawberries: One bowl of strawberries has approximately 150% of your day’s requirement of Vitamin C. The polyphenolic and antioxidant content of strawberries improves the immune system, prevents various types of cancers and reduces the signs of premature aging.
Vitamin C and Immunity
Vitamin C is an integral component for the production of collagen, a protein involved in the healing of wounds, blood vessels, and the skin. This apart, Vitamin C fights common cold and cough, and other infection. It also stimulates the activity of white blood cells, the body’s first line of defense against toxins and foreign bodies.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means that it neutralizes free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that are constantly created in our body. These free radicals are responsible for mutating the DNA of healthy cells into sick or cancerous cells and are subsequently responsible for heart diseases and various cancers.
A well-functioning immune system requires a good intake of nutrients. People eating a well-balanced diet should have no difficulty in reaching their daily requirements. However, some may be unable to meet their recommended daily nutrient intakes through diet alone. If this is the case for you, consider adding the following supplements to your diet:
- Probiotics: Ideally Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium strains in amounts between 2 and 3 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day.
- Vitamin C: Consider taking about 75–90 mg per day. Increasing your daily dose to up to 1 gram per day may provide extra benefits during illness.
- A multivitamin: Look for one containing iron, zinc, copper, vitamin E and selenium in amounts sufficient to help you meet 100% of the RDIs.
- Zinc lozenges: Doses of at least 75 mg per day at the first onset of cold symptoms may help reduce the duration of the infection.
Exercise To Boost Your Immune System
Exercise helps lower your chances of developing any heart ailment. It also strengthens your bones. However, we do not know exactly if or how exercise increases immunity to certain illnesses. Here are some theories:
- Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
- Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease.
- Workouts slow down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.
Note: Exercise is good for you, but, you should not overdo it.
Health Total Plan
Health Total’s Immunity Booster Plan
At Health Total, we recommend including nuts, especially almonds, in your daily diet. Also, vitamin-rich foods help boost immunity. These include spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, broccoli, red bell pepper, and chicken soup boost our immune system. Increase your protein intake by adding soy and soy products, eggs, fish and sprouts to your regular meal. Some juices that can help boost your immunity are amla juice, tulsi juice, aloe vera juice, wheatgrass juice (also good for natural weight loss), and mint and coriander juice.
A healthy body is in a much better position to fight off all kinds of illnesses. Health Total’s approach starts with our detoxification plan using herbs. This herbal formulation is made up of four herbs, each known for its immune-boosting qualities. They are Tulsi, Harida, Amla and Guduchi.
Tulsi: Tulsi leaves not only fight the harmful disease-causing bacteria and virus but also boost the production of healthy immune cells. You can chew or swallow three to four fresh Tulsi leaves on an empty stomach to increase immunity. Wash them properly before consuming. Once you chew them, drink a glass of water and avoid eating anything for next 30 minutes. Do this every morning for a month for improved immunity.
Haridra: Haridra (Turmeric) is one of the most common ingredients used in every household. Its anti-inflammatory property is used in treating cold and cough. It prevents cholesterol absorption in the intestines and helps in chronic inflammation. Besides this, haridra prevents cell aging and promotes weight loss.
Guduchi: Guduchi helps increase the effectiveness of protective white blood cells as well as in building the body’s own defense mechanism. Clinical studies conducted on Guduchi’s immune boosting ability show it to be linked to enhancing the function of protective cells called macrophages. This improves the immune system and the body’s resistance to infections.
Amla: Amla is an excellent source of Vitamin C, hence it helps boost immunity, metabolism and prevents bacterial and viral ailments. According to Ayurveda, amla juice is known to balance the processes in the body and brings to equilibrium all the three doshas – vata, kapha and pitta. One of the most effective ways to add amla to your diet is to juice it and have it diluted with water daily on an empty stomach. Amla juice clears your system, aids in digestion, helps in maintaining clear skin, healthy hair and good eyesight.
Thus, by fine tuning certain aspects of our lifestyle, we can strengthen our immunity and protect ourselves from premature aging and chronic infections.