The Immune System: Boosting It In Times Like These

By Abigail Wu




Photo: The immune system protecting the body against germs (Credit: Everyday Health)


Amid COVID-19, protecting our bodies is more important than ever. Uncertainty seems to follow us everywhere we go. What if someone with the virus spoke too aggressively and saliva flew onto something you are touching now? How will you know if someone has COVID-19 when their symptoms are incredibly mild? If Uncertainty were to be a person, no one would ever know Uncertainty, it’d be a mastermind behind everything, without people recognizing. Uncertainty surrounds us. Uncertainty lives among us. The amount of Uncertainty in the world we live in today is greater than ever. Without our immune system, we’d be completely vulnerable to Uncertainty and COVID-19 because even the strongest and healthiest people are getting infected, as seen on the news. One of the best ways to fight COVID-19 before it gets into our body is to boost our immune system, the very complex network in us that battles against infection and does its best to expurgate all foreign germs.


Why is the immune system important?



Photo: Immune system, protection against viruses and bacterias. (Credit: Biker Barakuss, Shutterstock)


It is with the immune system that humans can function properly. Without the immune system, humans would not have the ability to fight disease. The immune system is crucial to staying healthy and strong. One of the main functions of the immune system is to counteract foreign deleterious materials after recognizing them and fighting off germs or changes that cause disease. The immune system is activated when it recognizes things that are not supposed to belong in the body, such as antigens, and fights them off. When the immune system stops responding to the harmful substances, the body will start developing problems. For instance, if the immune system stops producing antibodies, the body would be vulnerable to disease without much of the ability to fight it. Clearly, the immune system is vital to human life. When the immune system dysfunctions, one will become ill and not so capable to fight against the encountered changes and germs. Having an atypical immune system will cause a decrease in body resilience.


Tips

Below are a mere few tips to gain general knowledge on some things one can do to better protect themselves from disease and have the possibility to boost their immune system.


  1. Vaccination



Photo: Getting a vaccination (Credits: King)


Getting vaccinated can not only protect the body but also boost immunity. Vaccines are medicines that stimulate disease so that the immune system can produce antibodies without actually being completely in contact with the disease. Vaccinations can also help mollify symptoms if one still gets the disease they were vaccinated against so their symptoms would not be as serious as those who chose not to get vaccinated. There are many myths about vaccinations, but once one is vaccinated, it is harder for them to get the disease. The vaccination can also protect the whole body in general. With vaccinations, the body can fight better when actually encountering the disease.

  1. Sleep



Photo: Importance of a Sleep Schedule (Credits: Sleep MD)

While many are so busy with work, school, etc, they sometimes don’t realize the time and sleep very late, becoming what is known as “sleepless.” Some may even sleep at irregular times, living like those with jetlag. What these people fail to realize is the importance of sleep, not just for their immune system, but also for how they will function during the day. Those who do not get enough sleep are not as likely to fight as well as those who do get enough sleep. Lack of sleep affects the body’s resilience. Getting sufficient sleep can boost the immune system because the immune system releases cytokines, a protein, during sleep. An increase in cytokines is especially needed when sick or under stress, which is why sleep is important. Obtaining quality sleep can also strengthen T cells, so the body can fight infections better. Although sleep may not seem a big deal to some people, it has an entire spectrum of benefits.

  1. Food safety



Photo: Ensuring compliance for food safety standards (Credits: Kizy Global Tracking)


Things as simple as making sure your food is clean before eating can also protect you from disease and boost immunity. Washing meat, fish, or vegetables one more time before cooking, differentiating raw and cooked food, and never using the same utensils for raw and cooked food can all help prevent the body from developing serious life-threatening conditions. By just taking one more precaution, one can prevent themselves from getting diagnosed with diseases such as organ failure, e.g. kidneys, and meningitis, swelling in the spinal cord and brain. One can protect their immune system by eating clean and healthy foods. Eating is essential to living and survival, so eating safe and healthy is a weighty concern for everyone.


  1. Exercise



Photo: Can exercise extend your life? (Credits: Harvard Health Publishing)


Although experts are yet to prove this tip fully true, some evidence does show that exercising can help one maintain their immune system like those younger than them. This shows a boost in the immune system because generally, younger people have better immune systems. However, exercise should not be overdone for safety and health reasons too. Balance and moderation are key because over-exercising can also cause a whole new set of problems and even harm immune system functions. Exercise to stay strong and have the possibility and potential for a healthier immune system.


Conclusion

These are only a few tips that everyone can apply in their life to strengthen their immune system, especially during this difficult time in the midst of COVID-19. There is so much more to the immune system, whether on how it works or other things one can do to have a healthier immune system. Part of life is to be responsible for our bodies, and boosting our immune system to gain protection from diseases with applicable tips is a great way to start.


References

“How to boost your immune system.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. 15 Feb. 2021. www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.

“Immune System Explained.” Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government. 17 Dec. 2017. www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/immune-system. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.

Informed Health.org. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, 2006. National Center for Biotechnology Information. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/#:~:text=The%20immune%20system%20has%20a,t%20notice%20that%20it's%20there. Accessed 9 Aug. 2021.

Olson, Eric J. “Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2021. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.

“Six Ways You Can Help Your Immune System.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. 15 Feb. 2021. www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/six-ways-you-can-help-your-immune-system. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.

Upham, Becky. “Explained: How Your Immune System Fights Off Coronavirus (and Other Germs).” Everyday Health. 11 Mar. 2020. www.everydayhealth.com/infectious-diseases/explained-how-your-immune-system-fights-off-coronavirus-and-other-germs/. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.

“Why vaccination is safe and important.” NHS, Crown. 30 Jul. 2019. www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/why-vaccination-is-safe-and-important/. Accessed 14 Aug. 2021.