What is the function of our immune system?
Our immune system is made up of a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that help the body to fight infection and diseases, such as white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system. The role of the immune system is very crucial as it protects our body from harmful substances from the outside such as bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi. These harmful invaders will cause diseases and infections if they are not removed from our body.
Here are a few roles of the immune system:
- Fight disease-causing pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi, and to remove them from the body
- Recognize and neutralize harmful substances from the environment
- Fight disease-causing changes in the body, such as cancerous cells
Why is our immune system important?
Our body is constantly in contact with bacteria, viruses, radiation and pollution. Therefore, we need a strong defense system to protect us from getting ill. A strong and healthy defense system consists of intact physical defense system (skin and mucous layer) and healthy immune system. Everybody’s immune system is different, generally it becomes stronger when we reach adulthood, as we have been exposed to more pathogens and developed more immunity.
A strong immune system is critical to keep you healthy all year long. People with poor immune health will have a higher risk of getting sick when they are exposed to cold or flu viruses, or have infections that are more frequent, longer lasting and harder to treat or have an allergic reaction that affects the body.
Practical ways to boost your immune system
Incorporating certain lifestyle changes and immune booster food may strengthen our immune response. Here are a few practical ways to help boost our immune system:
- Eat a healthful diet and aim for five servings of vegetables and fruits daily to get the immune boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Food such as blueberries, broccoli and spinach are rich in immune boosting nutrients that are beneficial to our immune health.
- Take immunity, cold and flu supplements such as Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function, providing antioxidant protection from free radicals and reduces the risk, severity and duration of an infection. Besides Vitamin C, bioflavonoids are also important synergistic phytonutrients for defense system, and for enhanced Vitamin C absorption and utilization.
- Find healthy and appropriate ways to cope with stress, such as meditation. Physical activities are also a good way to manage stress and help reduce some risk of chronic diseases.
- Stay up-to-date on recommended vaccines to get ourselves protected. Vaccination protects the vaccinated person and those around them who are vulnerable to the diseases by reducing the risk of diseases spreading such as family members, school mates or colleagues, friends, neighbours and other people in the community.
- Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each day. Studies have shown that people who are lack of sleep will be more likely to be infected after being exposed to a virus, and they will also take longer to recover.
- Avoid smoking and drink alcohol in moderation.
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid close contact with the people who are sick as viruses and other infectious illnesses can spread from person to person through close contact.
- MediLexicon International. (n.d.). 15 foods to boost the immune system. Medical News Today. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, November 28). Can lack of sleep make you sick? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 24, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757#:~:text=Yes%2C%20lack%20of%20sleep%20can,if%20you%20do%20get%20sick.