The human body has an internal mechanism for defending and protecting itself. That mechanism is known as the immune system. The immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders otherwise called microbes.
White blood cells (WBCs), also called leucocytes, constitute one very important group of cells that make up the immune system. They come in two basic types and work together like tag-teams (in WWF wrestling) to look for and destroy microbes that cause disease.
Microbes could be bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can cause infections. In addition, viruses also attack the human body. In most cases the human body effectively defends itself without the person knowing that it had been attacked. But when the immune fails to perform the defensive role, a germ will invade the body and cause sickness.
For the immune system to function effectively, the components must maintain balance and harmony.
A number of factors have been found to be important for this to happen. Among these are diet and exercise. In general terms, a good way to boost the immune system is to adopt healthy-living strategies, that help to strengthen and support it in the vital role of protecting and defending the body. In essence, a person needs to make lifestyle modifications and avoid certain habits that are injurious to the health of the body.
A. Adopt healthy-living strategies
The first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step to take toward keeping the immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and enhanced with healthy-living strategies such as these:
■ Choosing not to smoke or quitting the habit
■ Consuming diets high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as foods that have low amounts of saturated fat. For instance, you should avoid butter, which is made from animal fat and margarine produced from hydrogenated oil (saturated fat)
■ Engaging in regular exercise
■ Endeavoring to maintain a healthy weight.
■ Active control of blood pressure.
■ Avoiding alcohol or drinking in moderation
■ Get adequate sleep
■ Take steps to avoid infection by washing the hands frequently.
B. Role of diet
The immune system relies greatly on good nourishment. Scientists have long recognized that malnourished people are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Good nutrition provides the various micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals that extremely important for smooth functioning of the immune system. Medical research has proved that deficiency of micronutrients affect the immune system. Therefore, you need to eat more vegetables, whole grains as well as taking a recommended daily dose of multivitamins and mineral supplements is very helpful in boosting the immune system.
Exercise: Good for boosting immunity
Regular, vigorous exercise done outdoors greatly helps to improve cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system.
It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.