History books have informed us of pandemics in past centuries. In current times, we are experiencing it first hand with the Covid-19. However, unlike in the history books when the world felt hopeless, we are in a time of technology and fast-spreading information.
A pandemic is nothing new to this world. Generations before us have experienced them, but we are better equipped with knowledge on how to deal with them.
To avoid getting infected, we must protect ourselves from germs, but more so than taking precautions, we need to maintain a healthy immune system that will protect us even as we sleep!
A robust immune system will fight any pathogens the pandemic may throw at us, but we must play our role in making sure our immune system gets what it needs to defend us.
The Immune System & How it Works
The immune system within our body works as a database, bigger than any network in the world. It defends our body from bacteria and viruses by keeping a record of every germ that has ever entered the body, creating antibodies specifically for that germ to defeat it quickly.
Without our immune system, we would be susceptible to various forms of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens in this world.
Imagine not being able to recover from the simple flu!
The immune system consists of an extensive system of cells and tissues that spread throughout the body involving all organs. This way, it can identify foreign tissues or even dead cells and clear them out of the body. We call this, recognizing self from non-self.
Immune system cells are known as White Blood Cells. They are the ones that recognize foreign tissues and bacteria within the body. White blood cells are stored in the following places within our body:
- Lymph nodes
- Bone Marrow
The two types of White Blood Cells are Lymphocytes and Phagocytes.
Lymphocytes are the ones that remember previous invaders and foreign tissues and alert the body of any recurring attack. Once alerted, the Phagocytes will surround the pathogen and break it down.
How to make your immune system SOUND and ROBUST?
Although our immune systems usually do a stand-up job at defending us from disease-causing bacteria, sometimes the germ wins over, and we fall sick.
Those who tend to fall sick more often than not are considered to have a weak immune system. Being so susceptible to disease-causing bacteria can be troublesome and exhausting. Making us too weak to function productively.
Reasons for a weak immune system can be excessive smoking, consumption of alcohol, and poor diet.
Once our body is not given the right supplements to create white blood cells, we tend to fall sick, not to mention unhealthy consumption habits such as tar or excessive sweets that can hinder the immune system from developing and doing its job.
Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
While taking supplements such as vitamins and CAC- tablets have helped us improve our health, there are more natural ways to maintain a healthy immune system.
Adopting certain eating habits and activities can allow us to better our insides and, as a result, making our outside stronger as well.
One significant impact on our health is the food we intake. Our everyday diet must be rich in nutrients such as iron, calcium, and protein to achieve a healthy and functional immune system.
While junk foods like pizzas, burgers, and cheesy pasta sound way more tempting than apple or a glass of milk, it is essential to give your body what it needs instead of consuming what you crave.
Here, I am going to give you a list of foods that can help you build a robust immune system:
Citrus Fruits help in the production of white blood cells. They are also high in vitamin C and can be found in oranges, lemons, tangerines, strawberries, kiwi, Pineapple, and more!
Since our body does not produce or store vitamin C, you must consume it daily. So, pick the food you like the most to pump up your Vitamin C supply.
Ginger & Garlic
These two are often used together to add a zing to our food. But both provide tremendous benefits to our health. Garlic is valued for fighting infections and even helps in slowing down the hardening of arteries.
If not in your food, garlic can also be added to teas. In South Asian culture, tea (chai) is commonly flavored with ginger and garlic as well.
Ginger is particularly useful in decreasing inflammation; therefore, a hero for those with a sore throat and other inflammatory diseases; it even soothes chronic pain and lowers cholesterol.
These two are powerhouses for boosting your immunity. You can add them to your food, tea, or soups. Being healthy has so many options!
No South Asian household is unaware of this yellow spicy powder that is a regular addition to foods and drinks. What many have recently learned, however, is its benefits to our immune system.
It prevents us from arthritis to carcinogenic agents. This spice is now widely used for its medicinal purposes. It is used primarily for inflammation and has worked wonders for many!
From turmeric lattes to turmeric flavored candy and even in face masks, this spice has become extensively popular in the world.
Yogurt is, by far, the best dietary food for probiotics. Probiotic is a type of bacteria that fight off infections. Hence, yogurt boosts your immune system and aids in digestion.
It’s also high in protein and calcium, which helps in muscle development and healthy bones. Regular consumption of yogurt has proved to not only improve the immune system but also help manage weight loss and inflammation.
While eating a healthy and balanced diet is one of the essential steps in maintaining a healthy immune system, we also have to ensure that it is not a temporary change.
Diets should be a lifestyle, not a short-term change until we get desired results and then return to binge eating junk food and smoking a pack a day.
Your diet is your lifestyle. It should be something that you follow for the rest of your life. However, this does not mean that any form of junk food should be prohibited from entering your body. Cheat days or relaxed weekends for your diets are perfectly normal. It even helps maintain a healthy balance.
More importantly, to enjoy those cheat meals and occasional junk food, it is always a good idea to incorporate exercise into your routine. Just 3-4 days a week is enough to give a boost to your immune system.
Regular exercise increases blood flow as our muscles contract. This allows your immune cells (lymph nodes) to spread at a higher rate throughout your body.
With these changes in your lifestyle and diet, you can have a higher chance of fighting whatever illness comes our way. Whether it is a pandemic or the seasonal flu, our body will be well prepared for foreign invaders and harmful bacteria.