‘Immunity’ has become one of the most talked about topics in the country. Infact, if one looks at the google’s most searched ‘How to’ query for 2020, it was – How to increase immunity?
How to increase Immunity?
How to get a stronger Immune System?
Home remedies to boost Immunity?
These are certain queries that have been everywhere since the past year, thanks to the Corona pandemic. And the way, this disease affected the populations in general, boosting Immunity and the immune system became the talking point for millions.
In this piece, we will briefly look at what is immunity, what makes it and how to improve the body’s immune system and we will be discussing all of this in very laymen terms. Let’s begin.
What is Immunity?
Immunity is our body’s ability to ward off against diseases and infections. It is an inbuilt mechanism that involves our body’s cells, tissues, organs that work in tandem to prevent and kill any foreign invaders in our body like bacteria, parasite and viruses. Thus, the immune system helps to keep our body healthy.
Immunity is of 3 kinds – Innate, Acquired and Passive
Innate Immunity – This is our first line of defense. Innate Immunity is that basic level of immunity, all of us are born with. It includes our skin, mucous membranes in gut and throat.
Acquired Immunity – As the name suggests, it gets acquired as we progress through our lives through antibodies produced by vaccines.
Passive Immunity – This isn’t naturally possessed by our bodies and it is short term. These are either injected externally or are passed on from an individual to their offspring like the antibodies in mother’s milk protects infants from any diseases.
What makes the Immune System?
Human Immune system has various components that are responsible for keeping us fit like-
- Leukocytes or White Blood Cells – These are of two types – Phagocytes & Lymphocytes. Phagocytes attack the foreign invader bodies, kill and eat them away and Lymphocytes remember these invaders and keep a track, if they attack again.
- Bone Marrow – This is responsible for production of White Blood cells, Red Blood Cells and Platelets.
- Anti Bodies – These are the proteins that search for foreign invaders, destroy them or mark them to be handled by other components of the immune system.
- Spleen – It filters out our blood, removes any damaged Red Blood Cells and fights bacterial infections.
- Thymus – The Lymphocytes produced by Bone marrow, mature in thymus into T-cells and then are released into blood stream to perform various functions.
- Skin – It serves as a physical barrier against disease causing bacteria and environmental toxins.
- Lungs – When we breathe, along with oxygen, we inhale germs, pollutants, toxins as well. These unwanted materials get stuck to the mucous, which is then expelled out of lungs from the throat. The lining of the lungs macrophages that kill any pathogens in the lungs.
- Lymphatic System – The above mentioned Bone Marrow, Thymus, Spleen are a part of Lymphatic system. The system produces lymphocytes (a kind of white blood cells) that fight against pathogens and ensure the health of the host.
How do you know if your Immune System is working well?
If you fall sick more often, then it means that you need to work on improving your immunity.
When your immune system is weak, you catch flu, cough and cold easily. In severe cases, the body gets prone to autoimmune disorders, anemia, digestive issues etc.
In fact, to get more clarity, one can get their antibodies checked, if they feel something is off.
What damages the Immune System?
There are multiple factors that can affect our bodies immunity like
- Age – With growing age, our body’s ability to fight against diseases declines.
- Alcohol -The consumption has to be moderate. If not, then this affects the immunity adversely.
- Active and Passive Smoking – Smoking triggers inflammatory chronic response in the lungs which increases with the time and affects immunity. It affects those also, who actually don’t smoke but inhale smoke because of being in physical affinity to a smoker.
- Stress – Stress leads to a weaker immune system. As when you are stressed, the body’s capability to fight antigens gets reduced.
- Insufficient Sleep – Poor sleep can reduce the level of cytokines which are essential to enable our bodies to fight against viral and bacterial infections.
- Diet – Poor eating habits like food which has less vitamins & nutrients keeps you on higher risk of weak immune system. Also, the immune cells need vitamins & nutrients for their growth.
So, What is to be done for a stronger Immune System?
- Sleep well.
- Have a fitness routine
- Avoid or take alcohol in moderation
- Avoid smoking
- Eat seasonal vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low fat protein, dairy products – A balanced diet with lots of vitamins, minerals & fiber
Our Immune system is our body’s primary defense against any ailments. Let’s make it robust and avoid anything that impacts it negatively.