Immune System: All you need to know

Among a lot of questions arising in the middle of the Corona Pandemic, the most prominent one is related to how boosting immunity can prevent you from becoming sick. Various companies & brands are advertising about their product/supplements that can help in boosting immunity. We have always had such claims by various brands during the Pandemics & Epidemic. For us to evaluate if such products/supplements really boost our immunity, it is important to understand how our immune system works.

Your body’s defense system can be broken down into 2 parts: innate & adaptive. Innate is the first line of defense which prevents any intruder/alient to entering the body. This includes things such as skin & cough reflect. Adaptive is more specific that uses specialized skills to attack intruders that get in. Adaptive mechanism also develops memory cells that remember those pathogens so that it can fight with them once they encounter them again. How your immune system responds to pathogens depends upon what happened in the past. Immune system is influenced by various viruses & bacteria you have been exposed to during your life( both naturally & via vaccination). Therefore memory cells developed by adaptive mechanisms become all the more important. That is the reason why some people are better off fighting these viruses than others.

How your immune system reacts is based on some predetermined factors. Let us explore to what extent the immune system can be affected by how it is operating today. Immune system is not one single thing that we can change as when required. Rather it is an evolving & complicated system. It consists of not one cell but many cells. So if the immune system has to be boosted it has to be the entire system as a whole not just one cell. The word “ boost” does not mean multiplying immune cells rather making the cell carry out basic primary function. Supercharging immune response does not make sense since over immune response can lead to inflammation & can make you ill. What we really want is competent immune response.

We do not have some proven facts or data to substantiate the claim that these supplement brands are quick fixes to boost immunity. When we look at vitamin & herbal supplements, most of them are said to have negligible impact on viral infections.

Certain vitamin and mineral supplements can be beneficial to correct deficiencies caused by malnutrition, a health condition, or agin. In that case, supplements can bring them back up and make the immune system function properly. However if you are having a healthy diet with all required macronutrients, consuming supplements above the normal does not do immune response better.

How can you support your immune system?

Given that the immune system has so many components & intricacies involved, we just want it to work as it is supposed to. This essential means providing some important support to help it function properly. While no pills or food can help in making it function properly, the basic principle of adopting healthy eating habits is said to support a well functioning immune system. This essential means:

  1. Having a balanced diet with a mix of right macro nutrients & micro nutrients.
  2. Proper sleep ranging from 7 to 9 hours a day
  3. Managing stress levels.
  4. Moderate workout
  5. Most important doing this consistently during your life.

When we talk of a right & nutrient rich diet, it does not mean having celery juice for some days to boost your immunity or rather trashing your immunity by having ice cream for 3 consecutive days. What you need is long term dietary changes with a consistent & sustainable healthy eating habits which supports your immune systems in a lot of ways & also maintains balance of various vitamins, minerals & good bacteria in your gut.

So to sum up, there are no fast paced or quick fixes to up your immune system. The key is to adopt a consistent healthy eating habits & lifestyle on a long term basis.

PS:Originally published on www.thesushantkumar.com

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Corporate finance professional turned Health & Fitness Entrepreneur, a fitness enthusiast, adventurer & trekking enthusiast

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Sushant Kumar

Sushant Kumar

Corporate finance professional turned Health & Fitness Entrepreneur, a fitness enthusiast, adventurer & trekking enthusiast

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