Your Immune System: Boost or Bust?

Your Immune System: Boost or Bust?

Our miraculous immune system is made up of white blood cells, antibodies, certain organs and lymph nodes. A robust and properly functioning immune system protects you from infection and disease as you go about daily life and encounter germs and bugs from pets, other people and your environment.

The primary symptom of a weak immune system is susceptibility to infection. A person with a weak immune system is likely to get infections more frequently than most people. Additionally, these illnesses might be more severe or harder to treat. Infections that people with a weak immune system often get include pneumonia, meningitis, bronchitis and skin infections.

The strength of our immune system also plays a primary role in the prevention of many chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, arthritis and cancer.

The good news is that no matter what your current state, there are lifestyle choices you can make to improve your immune system function.

Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune response and malnutrition the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. Choose fresh, vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, along with a variety of protein foods including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.

During sleep, your immune system releases certain proteins that need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective proteins. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.

Exercise can have both a positive and negative impact on immune function and striking the right balance can be a challenge for many fitness enthusiasts. Prolonged intense training depresses the immune system and can increase the risk of infection, while regular moderate-intensity exercise has more balanced effects that result in the improvement of the immune response.

Psychological stress negatively impacts the inflammatory process, wound healing, responses to infectious agents and other immune challenges. People vary in their ability to cope with stressful life events, and differences in perceptions of stress, mood and adverse life events can modify the magnitude to which stressors exert a negative influence on immune function. Good nutrition, adequate sleep, regular exercise and practices like yoga and meditation go a long way towards improving our ability to handle stress.

When working optimally, the immune system can prevent sickness when we’re exposed to germs. It’s important to understand how our choices influence our overall health and wellbeing.

For more information on how to empower yourself and improve your immune system, contact Cathy Abreu at 908-528-3977 or Cathy@NavitaHealth.com. Visit her website at NavitaHealth.com.