Your immune system helps protect you from harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause serious illness by identifying and fighting off these invaders before they take hold.
If your immune system is incapable of fighting off an infection, you can develop a severe illness that may require hospitalization or even be life-threatening.
Beware of Marketing Claims for “Immunity-Boosting” Products
Over the past few years, you’ve probably seen or heard many supplements, oils, herbs, and other products discussed for their ability to “boost your immune system.”
It’s essential to know that these claims are not typically backed by scientific evidence. The FDA does not regulate these product claims according to the same standards as they do for pharmaceutical medications.
“Boosting” your immunity suggests that these supplements (such as Vitamin C) will raise your body’s overall resistance to infection even higher than usual. But unless you’re malnourished, taking these supplements is unlikely to impact your immunity significantly.
Vitamin C is an important part of a healthy immune system. If you’re deficient, taking a supplement might help correct this and get you back to normal. But if you already have enough, taking extra Vitamin C will probably not make your immune system any stronger.
An Unhealthy Diet Can Weaken Your Immune Function
If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can lead to deficiencies that may weaken your immune system.
You need to eat various healthy foods to get the nutrient-building blocks that create and support a healthy body.
A healthy diet includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Avoid or severely limit your intake of processed foods, added sugars, alcohol, and unhealthy fats.
Stress Will Weaken Your Immune Function
Your immune system responds to signals from many other parts of your body, especially your nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems.
When stressed, your body releases hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine. These hormones help you deal with an immediate threat by giving you a burst of energy and preparing your body for fight or flight.
But when these stress hormones are constantly stimulated daily, it can lead to inflammation and suppression of your immune system, making you more susceptible to infection and illness.
Stress can also lead you to unhealthy behaviors and harmful habits.
So, try to find ways to manage your stress and take care of your mental health.
Get a full night of quality sleep every night. Exercise regularly, meditate, spend time with friends and family, and do things that make you happy.
The Best Way To Train Your Immune System
To truly prepare your body to fight off infections, you need more than just good general immune function. You need specific immunity – your immune system must be able to recognize and respond to specific threats.
Make sure you are up to date on important vaccinations but not all are nessesary.
You can think of vaccines as target practice for your immune cells. They give your immune system a safe opportunity to practice recognizing and responding to a specific threat.
Then, if you’re ever exposed to that threat in the future, your immune system will be primed and ready to fight it off efficiently and effectively before it can make you too sick.
Some things will always be outside of your control, but vaccinations are a safe and easy way to strengthen your natural resistance to disease and reduce your chances of getting sick.