Courtesy of Newstart Program
With these constant threats we face each day, how do we equip our bodies to help minimize risks to our health? Following eight simple steps can boost our immune system, allowing it to be in the best shape to fight off these offenders.
Proper nutrition is important to immune health. Eating fruits and vegetables supports healthy immune function. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins such as C, E and K which boost immunity. These foods also contain phytochemicals which help fight inflammation. Chronic inflammation can weaken the immune system.
Exercise is another component to help build immune function. Regular exercise increases factors involved in regulating the immune response and decreases the production of inflammatory markers. Exercise can help flush out harmful microorganisms from the lungs. Exercise also slows down the release of stress hormones, decreasing risk for infection.
Drinking water brings oxygen to the cells of the body, including the immune system, ensuring they function properly. Drinking water also eliminates toxins and waste, decreasing their build-up in the body which can weaken the immune system.
Exposure to sunshine helps stimulate the production of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D helps turn on the functions of the immune system, helping it operate more efficiently.
Temperance is use of good things in moderation and complete abstinence of those things which are harmful. Smoking substances such as tobacco and marijuana can suppress the immune system, decreasing its ability to protect us from invading microorganisms such as viruses. Drinking alcohol disrupts the gastrointestinal barrier, decreasing its integrity and allowing for leakage of harmful microorganisms into the blood.
Breathing fresh air increases oxygen supply to cells involved in the immune response, increasing their ability to function properly. Breathing fresh air also supports proper lung function, allowing for expulsion of toxins during exhalation.
When we don’t get adequate rest, the immune system becomes weaker. During sleep, the body produces substances, called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation, producing an effective immune response. Reduced sleep decreases the production of these important immune regulating cells, increasing the body’s susceptibility to infection.
Trust in God is vital to the strength of the immune system. Trust in God helps alleviate stress, which can weaken immune function. When we trust in God, we will embrace the principles of health He has given, which are designed for our bodies to function optimally.
While there are other factors which may be involved in proper immune function, incorporating these eight simple steps can support a healthy immune system and reduce vulnerability to infection, illness and death.
Christina Wells is the Lake Region Conference Health director.