March 03 2021
The outbreak of an epidemic or a pandemic results in morbidity among living beings; it isn’t in our hands and it is only a matter of time until another severe threat across the world. The diseases are contagious hence spread from one person to another and soon infects everyone in the vicinity, the environmental factors and the structure of the pathogen determine the mutation and its vulnerability of the disease it is causing. Thus, the bottom line will always be strengthening your immune system, be it with the help of immunostimulants, supplements or implementing simple precautionary measures for enhancing host defence mechanisms in your body.
Factors that affect your immune system
- Age: The immune system tends to decline with age; similarly children are said to have low immunity which makes them more susceptible towards many diseases. Also, according to researchers, women are said to have stronger immune systems than men; the reason behind this is since they have more number of mast cells in their body.
- Alcohol consumption or smoking: According to a number of researches, unrestrained consumption of alcohol and smoking might result in a number of health problems, impairing the action of B and T lymphocytes in your body.
- Hormones: Hormones like stress hormones (cortisol), lymphokines suppress the action of the immune system. Similarly, endocrine disorders in the body like hypothyroidism, adrenal disorders, diabetes can increase human mortality.
- Exposure to toxic agents: Interaction with heavy metals, chemical warfare agents can cause autoimmune diseases. It also results in the immune system failing to distinguish between foreign antigens and self-antigens thus disrupting the healthy tissues of the body.
- Stress levels: Clinical studies have shown that stress can cause both the innate and adaptive immune response to dysfunction. It is regulated by complex signals between the endocrine, CNS and the immune systems. Under stressful conditions, the body tends to release cortisol, catecholamines etc which in turn weaken the immune response of your body. They do it by binding directly to the receptors or inducing the generation of various cytokines. The production of WBCs and antibodies against invaders or antigens are also affected due to stress. Besides the response towards vaccines, wound healing etc is also reduced. Thus, there are innumerable harmful effects which will be caused to your body if you’re stressed; for that try to remain calm and relaxed and indulge in the things that make you happy.
- Sleep: One of the most important things for your body is an adequate amount of sleep. It will not only help the body to effectively respond to disease but also completely recover from it and produce acquired immunity. Studies have shown that 80-85% of your body’s immune cells are said to be decreased if a person has inadequate sleep at night. Thus, prolonged sleep deficiency can lead your body to have higher chances of catching the flu, cold and susceptive to many diseases. It is suggested that if the optimal sleep schedule i.e 6-8 hours is disrupted, you must take enough sleep in the afternoon or morning to compensate for this.
- Hydration and hygiene: Our body consists of 60-75% of water, thus keeping yourself hydrated is an important factor for keeping your overall body healthy and fit. Water deficiency or dehydration can result in many diseases, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, dizziness, dry skin etc. Water also helps in flushing out toxins or harmful microorganisms from your body. Besides, it increases the lymph production which transports the WBCs for destroying harmful pathogens which on the other hand boosts immunity and protects the body. Thus, a person should consider taking half of the body weight of water in ounces to keep themselves healthy.
Hygiene is also another important factor in preventing the spread of contagious diseases. Maintain proper personal hygiene and make sure that when you are sick, you take measures not to spread it to other people. Use a tissue when you are sneezing or coughing instead of using your hands to cover your face. Wash your hands frequently, use surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers and always wear a mask when you head out.
- Lifestyle: Nothing in excess is healthy for us, for example consuming sweets, alcohol etc can massively affect your immune system. Consumption of alcohol damages the cell lining of your intestine which helps in preventing fatal diseases like Pneumonia, Cancer, Tuberculosis etc. Also, it increases immunoglobulins in your body which leads to autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, consumption of alcohol in optimal amounts ( 12 oz beer or 5 oz glass wine) is said to boost the immune system and is safe for both men and women.
- Essential foods that help in enhancing your immunity
- Vegetables: Fresh veggies, free from pests or any insecticides. Examples are carrot, tomatoes, beans, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin, beetroot etc.
- Fruits: antioxidants, water content, fibre, essential oil, micronutrients and acids are important for the immune system to work properly. Examples are Apple, banana, grapefruit, melons, kiwi, pineapple, berries etc.
- Probiotics: They generate plenty of vital vitamins in your gut and help in faster absorption of nutrients from the foods that you consume every day. There are plenty of probiotic supplements available in the market.
- Functional foods: Aids in enhancing your immunocompetence and reduces the chances of falling sick frequently. Examples are Turmeric, green tea, omega-3 oils, fish oil, mushroom, tuna, salmon, important vitamins like C,D,A,B12,B6, folic acid, etc.
- Whole grains and cereals: Important source for obtaining zinc, proteins, carbohydrates, iron, minerals etc. It helps in balancing blood sugar level, fighting cardiac disorders and strengthening your immunity. Examples are Soybeans, chickpeas, corn, barley, wheat etc.
- Supplements: Vitamin C, A, D copper zinc and magnesium all of these are important for maintaining a proper immune system. Try taking natural milk thistle supplements for boosting your immunity, it also aids in weight loss and a natural antioxidant. In these tough times, this will definitely keep your immunity strong.
A healthy mind and body both are important for fighting deadly diseases with these being the priority because of this pandemic. For combating COVID, not only must we alter our unhealthy lifestyles but also listen to our body’s needs which can only be obtained by eating a healthy balanced diet, a good night’s sleep, maintaining hygiene, exercising last but not the least by staying happy.