A vital component of the human body, you likely already know a bit about your immune system. Rather than describing one particular organ’s function, the immune system is in many ways inclusive of almost all parts of our body, each formed with self-protection in mind to some extent.
The prime function of the immune system is to organize the activity of body cells to fight foreign invaders like infections and pathogens. Thanks to our immune system, our body is able to recognize when a foreign microorganism has unwelcomed intentions, and steps in to defend us from harmful bacteria and viruses causing serious damage. Without this essential bodily function, we would constantly be vulnerable to infections, however mild, and find it difficult to survive what life throws at us.
So what exactly is the immune system?
Our skin and mucous membranes are the first hurdles that any particle encounters when approaching our body. If it wasn’t for the skin, every particle such as dirt or water would be in contact with our vital internal organs, but thankfully the skin provides the first line of defense, a defense that is fairly non-specific. The next response from the body is known as the innate response, whereby specialized cells like macrophages and neutrophils release anti-inflammatory cell mediators to hone in on and eliminate pathogens. This then triggers what’s known as the adaptive response. Specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes initiate an antibody and a cell-mediated immune response. B cells prevent pathogens from invading host cells by binding to antigens, and T cells help to differentiate harmful cells from the host cells and ‘killer T cells’ destroy them.
Some symptoms of a weakened immune system include high levels of stress, getting frequent colds, having wounds that are slow to heal, and feeling tired all the time. Such issues may have a knock-on effect on your private life, possibly reducing the functioning of the male reproductive organ, but thankfully effective treatment like Viagra is available to circumvent this problem.
Hacking your immune system
Nail your diet:
Your body needs sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals to effectively function, and deficiencies in these can lead to a weakened immune system. These can be found in a combined daily multivitamin such as OneVit, but this should only act as a top-up of your essential micronutrients, not as a replacement from dietary nutrients found in your food. These nutrients include:
- Amino acid arginine – Maintains healthy cell functioning, and can be found in meats and dairy, and other foods high in protein.
- Glutamine – Necessary for white blood cells, glutamine acts as an energy source and is also found in high protein foods.
- Vitamin A – helps in cell division and combating infections, and is found in fruit and vegetables.
- Vitamin D – Critical to the immune system, get your Vitamin D from sunlight or supplements to decrease the chance of infection.
Be within a healthy weight bracket:
Obesity can be one of the biggest obstacles to successful and efficient immune system functioning, having to do with how it affects your metabolism. Using methods of losing weight, such as calorie-restrictive diets and plenty of exercise, will help get back to a healthy weight. Additionally, there is a selection of clinically-proven weight loss medications that are approved by the regulatory authority, like Alli or Orlistat, that can be a quick and safe way to lose weight when used alongside a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. These are available from pharmacies such as the popular online pharmacy Pharmica.
Lower your stress levels:
Whilst some low levels of stress are in fact good for your health, chronic stress releases glucocorticoids which impede immune system functioning and hinder the response of your antibodies to foreign invaders. Try to factor in regular stress-relieving practices into your daily routine, such as meditation, reading a book, yoga, or deep stretching.
In the work-focused world that we live in, it’s often too easy to neglect our bodies by not performing enough physical activity each week. Doing a regular exercise or frequently doing something physical, even walking to and from your work office, for example, will enhance your immune system, and is especially the case with age. You should do at least 2 and a half hours per week of moderate exercise, or an hour and a half of intense exercise. Split this up by alternative days on and off during the week, and this is a very manageable amount of physical activity that you wil thank yourself for in the short and long term.