Your Immune System
What exactly is the immune system? Your immune system is an unsung superhero; It’s on the clock 24/7, protecting you from disease. Every day, it fights off thousands of potentially deadly attacks from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. And if it weren’t for the times when you are sick, you probably wouldn’t even realize that your immune system exists.
Understanding Your Immune System
So, what is this remarkable system and how does it work? Your immune system is made up of special network of tissues, lymphatic organs and germ-fighting cells. A common way to understand this complex system is to think of your body as a castle; a fortress with different types of defenses to protect itself from foreign intruders, i.e. pathogens. There are three lines of defense: The first includes your skin, stomach acids, mucous membranes and tears.
If an intruder manages to get through this first line of defense via food, your nose or a cut, a second line of defense, called inflammation, automatically kicks in. And as soon as this happens, the third line of defense, immune cells, are called into action. Immune cells are large amounts of different types of white blood that are made in the bone marrow. When called into service, these special cells work together to seek out and destroy pathogens.
And as if this weren’t enough, if you’re re-exposed to a specific pathogen, your immune system can remember it, and quickly identify and destroy it before you get sick. When this happens, your body has become “immune” to the disease.
How Can You Do to Improve Your Immune System
Because the immune system is central to your health and well-being, the healthier your immune system is, the better your body can cope with many of the toxic burdens it encounters. To keep your immune system healthy and strong, consider following this expert advice:
Eat three balanced meals a day, and nutritious snacks in between. By getting your daily doses of dairy, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats or fish, you provide your immune system and the rest of your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning.
2. Get moving:
According the CDC, by doing only 25 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, adults can improve their health. Exercise boosts your energy, increases your metabolism, and improves your heart and lung functions; all of which, in turn, benefit your immune system. (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/data/facts.html)
3. Manage your stress:
Stress places your body into fight or flight mode, which, over time can weaken your immune system. There are many healthy ways to manage stress, including meditation, yoga, prayer, exercise, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol, keeping a positive attitude and learning how to accept things that you can’t control.
4. If you smoke, quit!
Cigarettes contain about 400 chemicals, including 40 known cancer-causing agents, including nicotine. Smoking directly affects your respiratory system, which can make you susceptible to coughs and colds. When you stop smoking, your immune system becomes stronger and you are less likely to get sick.