Your immune system is an amazing machine. It’s responsible for keeping your body safe from outside invaders like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and toxins.
There are two main parts of your immune system: the part you were born with (innate or non-specific system) and the part you develop from exposure to the environment (adaptive acquired, or specific system).
Your immune system is made of various organs, cells, and proteins – skin cells, blood, bone marrow, tissues and organs like the thymus and lymph glands.
A strong immune system is your best defense against illness and infection. Without it, you would have no way of fighting off harmful substances or changes within the body.
Your immune system has three main tasks:
- To fight pathogens (disease-causing “germs”) like viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites and get them out of your body
- To recognize and neutralize harmful substances from the environment
- To fight disease-causing changes in the body, like cancer cells
Your immune system is activated by antigens – things the body doesn’t recognize as belonging there. These are proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
When the immune system cells come into contact with these antigens, a whole series of processes is stimulated in your immune system.
The good news is that once your immune system comes in contact with a germ, it will recognize that germ if it sees it again. This is why vaccines work to protect you against certain diseases.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top all-natural and safe immune boosters that everyone can take advantage of to strengthen your immune response, increase your resistance to disease and infection, and help you recover more quickly if you do become ill.
Not getting enough sleep can lower your immune response and leave you more likely to succumb to infection.
In a study of 164 adults, the ones who slept less than six hours a night proved more likely to catch a cold than those who slept longer.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body makes stress hormones like cortisol to keep you awake and alert – and that can suppress your immune system.
And you may also take longer to recover if you’re sleep-deprived. That’s because your body can’t make enough antibodies to fight off disease if you’re not rested.
Your body also releases special proteins (cytokines) that help your immune system – but they only do that while you’re asleep. Your body does a lot of healing and regenerating while you’re asleep.
Typical adults should try to get seven or more hours of sleep daily to function properly.
Teens need eight to ten hours a night and younger children and infants need to get up to 14 hours of sleep to be at their best.
People who got a full eight hours of sleep had higher levels of T-cells than those who slept less, according to a 2019 study. And a 2015 study found that those who get seven hours of sleep are four times less likely to come down with a cold than those who were sleep-deprived.
Most modern people don’t get enough sleep, which is a shame because it’s an easy fix to a common problem.
Some tips to getting a good night’s sleep include limiting your screen time starting two to three hours before your bedtime. The blue light from the TV, computer screen or cellphone has been shown to disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) so shut them all down.
Another thing to limit is caffeine use. If you’re having a tough time getting to sleep, try skipping caffeine after noon. Even if you think your body is used to it, a little caffeine can go a long way.
You can also try sleeping in a totally dark room that is cooler than the rest of your home, as your body cools down when it’s ready to sleep.
Avoid highly stimulating books or conversations right before bed, too. They get your adrenaline levels up and you’ll have more trouble calming back down.
Go to bed at the same time every night, even on your days off and have a set sleep schedule you follow before getting into bed.
If you’re still having trouble with your sleep, talk to your doctor.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to a healthy immune system, as well as many other of your body’s systems. You can’t perform at your best if you’re sleep-deprived.
Continued in Part 2.