Blog

How to Boost Your Immune System

What is the immune system? The immune system is one of the most important mechanisms of the human body. This is because it’s the body’s natural defense against illness. The immune system attacks and destroys invading pathogens to keep the body free from disease.  This vast network of cells, tissues, proteins, and organs fights off diseases and infections by identifying viruses, bacteria and parasites, and neutralizing these threats. It is constantly at work.  Once this defense system encounters a pathogen, it deploys an immune response to fight and kill it. The most important thing about this system is that it can distinguish the body's healthy tissue from foreign, disease-causing tissue. Dead and faulty cells are also identified and eliminated by the immune system. How does the immune response work? The immune system can be activated by a lot of different organisms that the body doesn’t recognize. The substances that activate the immune response are called antigens.  Antigens include the proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. When these antigens come into contact with the special receptors on the immune system cells, a whole series of processes are triggered in the body.  When the body is exposed to a disease-causing germ for the first time, the immune system usually stores data about the pathogen and how to fight it. Then, if the same type of germ invades again, the immune system recognizes it right away and starts fighting it sooner. Diseases related to the immune system The immune system is a very complex mechanism. This complexity means there are opportunities for disorders to disrupt the system. Following are the different types of immune system disorders: 1. Immunodeficiencies Immunodeficiency is the lack or absence of immune system cells in the body. Simply put, one or more parts of the immune system do not work properly.  Immunodeficiencies can be caused by a number of factors, including age, obesity and alcoholism.  In underdeveloped countries, malnutrition is a common cause of immunodeficiency. In some cases, the condition is inherited.  2. Autoimmunity Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly targets and destroys the body’s healthy cells. In this case, the immune system is not able to distinguish between its own healthy cells and foreign pathogens or faulty cells.  The body’s cells also have surface proteins, called autoantibodies. But they are not the antibodies that should trigger the immune system.  When the immune system cannot distinguish its own tissues from foreign tissues, it attacks healthy, harmless cells in the body. Autoimmune diseases include celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. 3. Hypersensitivity Hypersensitivity is when the immune system overreacts to such a degree that it damages healthy tissues. An example is anaphylaxis, when the body’s response to an allergen is so strong that it can be life-threatening. Immune System Boosters Some people have strong immune systems, while others have weak ones. The good news is that you can strengthen your immune system through a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle. Certain foods, supplements, and lifestyle changes will have a positive effect on your ability to stay healthy.  Herbs that boost the immune system Many natural substances are known to boost immunity. Since ancient times, herbs and spices have been in high demand for both their healing properties and their ability to help people stay well. According to the World Health Organization, over 80% of the world’s population uses herbal medicines and herbs as part of their primary healthcare.  Most of the preferred herbs are high in anti-inflammatory properties, which help bolster the body’s natural immunity. Most of these herbs and spices are relatively safe, compared to allopathic medicines like antibiotics, which can have serious side effects. Here’s a list of herbs and spices that can help improve immunity: 1. Holy basil  Holy basil is a very old medicinal herb. Its leaves are rich in phytonutrients.  Basil is also rich in chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, and eugenol. Eugenol is a bioactive compound with antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties, which can help reduce stress and lower plasma glucose levels.  How to consume basil: You can simply chew fresh basil leaves in the morning or infuse them in your morning tea. Just ensure that you wash them well in running water before using them. 1. Ginger  Ginger is widely used in Indian cooking to add flavor to dishes. This popular spice has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.  Since ancient times, ginger has been extensively used for treating asthma, travel sickness, morning sickness, colds, coughs, nausea, arthritis, gastrointestinal complaints, and even depres ...