How to Increase Immunity Naturally?

Updated: Feb 2

There are many questions hidden in the above question:

What is Immunity?

What factors can weaken the immune system?

What factors can strengthen the immune system?

What are the natural ways to boost immunity?


Immunity is probably the most researched topic in recent times. The question is do we have the right knowledge and are we implementing that knowledge? Because to me 'Knowledge without Action is No Knowledge',


Targeting the immune system during this pandemic time has the potential to help decrease the frequency, severity, or duration of symptoms, especially among high-risk populations, such as in children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.



DISCLAIMER: Any information in this article is not intended to replace the SOPs for the pandemic; face mask, social distancing, hygiene, vaccination


What is Immunity?

Immunity is the body's ability to protect itself from the environmental germs, to prevent them from causing illness. This is our built in mechanism from nature to protect us from outside harm.

Our physiological bodies have been ingeniously equipped with self healing mechanism, be it fighting germs, repair broken proteins, repair a wound or mental/psychological trauma.


These defenses works best when our sympathetic system (fight, or flight) is calm and our parasympathetic system (rest and digest) is activated.


Types of Immunity:

Innate Immunity

Innate immunity is the immune system that is present when you are born. It is your body's first line of defense against germs. It includes physical barriers, such as skin and mucous membranes, and special cells and proteins that can recognize and kill germs. The innate system has no memory, meaning that they can kill a germ, but once the germ is dead, the innate immune system forgets it. It does not communicate any information about the germ to the rest of the body. Without this information, the body cannot prepare itself to fight this germ if it should reinfect the body.


Acquired Immunity

Acquired (adaptive or specific) immunity is not present at birth. It is learned. The learning process starts when a person’s immune system encounters foreign invaders and recognizes non-self substances (antigens). Then, the components of acquired immunity learn the best way to attack each antigen and begin to develop a memory for that antigen.


Acquired immunity is also called specific immunity because it tailors its attack to a specific antigen previously encountered. Its hallmarks are its ability to learn, adapt, and remember.

Adaptive immunity is protection that your body builds when it meets and remembers,

it produces antibodies to fight the antigens. It takes about 14 days for your body to make antibodies. More importantly, the body memorizes this fight so that if its meets the same antigen again, it can recognize and attack more quickly. Antibody production is one of the most important ways that immunity is developed.


The white blood cells required for acquired immunity are:

  • Lymphocytes (T cells and B cells)

  • Cytokines

Lymphocytes enable the body to remember antigens and to distinguish self from harmful non-self (including viruses and bacteria). Lymphocytes circulate in the bloodstream and lymphatic system and move into tissues as needed.

The immune system can remember every antigen encountered because after an encounter, some lymphocytes develop into memory cells. These cells live a long time—for years or even decades. When memory cells encounter an antigen for the second time, they recognize it immediately and respond quickly, vigorously, and specifically to that particular antigen. This specific immune response is the reason that people do not contract chickenpox or measles more than once and that vaccination can prevent certain disorders.


Factors that can weaken the Immune system
  • Poor hygiene

  • Poor sleep

  • Unhealthy diet

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Smoking

  • Alcohol

  • Stress

Factors that can strengthen the Immune system
  • Healthy diet

  • Regular Exercise

  • Good sleep

  • Low stress

  • Meditation

  • Compassion/empathy

  • Kindness to others



Natural Ways To Strengthen Immune System


1. Diet

Diet plays a major role. There are nutrients that boost your immune system


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient that supports various cellular functions of our immune system. A lack of vitamin C can make you more prone to getting sick.

Whole food sources like strawberries, cauliflower, red bell peppers, mango, and grapefruit.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral critical for immune function. Even a mild to moderate zinc deficiency can impair immune function and increase the risk of respiratory infections. Zinc sources; whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and meat.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble antioxidant involved in the cellular immune response and provides enhanced defense against multiple infectious diseases.

Food rich in Vitamin A like sweet potato, mango, bell peppers, and dark leafy greens like kale. These foods are paired with healthy fats to increase vitamin A absorption.

Selenium

Selenium is an essential mineral that is required for the function of almost every arm of the immune system.

Incorporate rich sources of selenium like sardines, eggs, beef, and oats.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Diets high in vitamin E improve cellular immunity by protecting against cell damage. Incorporate vitamin E from almond and peanut butter, avocado, and sardines.


2. Sleep

A sound night sleep plays a vital role in strengthening your immune system. Ideally, 8-9 hours of sleep is good for your health.

Our habits of sleeping and eating are governed by the 'circadian rhythm', a natural process that controls sleep/wake cycle.

During sleep, your body releases cytokines, which are essential for the regulation of the immune system. Cytokines are required in increased amounts when you are attacked by a pathogen or are under stress. The level of cytokines increase during sleep, and therefore lack of sleep hinders the body's ability to fight infections. This is also a reason why the body tends to sleep more while suffering from any infection.


3. Exercise

Daily moderate exercise (walk, cycling, swimming, strength training) 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day 5 days a week. It Helps boost immune system by increasing blood circulation, by releasing cytokines and by releasing endorphins (happy chemical/neurotransmitter) that strengthen white blood cells, hence strengthen immune system.




The intention of writing this article is to bring awareness of our bodies natural abilities and bringing people towards more mindful living.

Write in the comment section, what impact this information has made on you, any questions related to the topic or if you want to learn more about any other topic.


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https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Health-Readiness/Immunization-Healthcare/Clinical-Consultation-Services/Immunology-Basics

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/how-sleep-affects-immunity

https://www.news-medical.net/health/How-Does-Sleep-Affect-Your-Immunity.aspx


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