Each of us responds to infection differently. Why do some people never get sick while others battle allergies, seasonal flu, or digestive problems? This is because we are unique and the immunity of each of us is different.
The immune system needs to be modulated continuously, not only after we feel weak or we get ill. Because these are mostly first warning signals from our body, that there is something wrong.
It is important to realize that it is not just about boosting immunity, because it may not work often and may even make any disease worse. Building up the immune system is a set of measures that bring our immune defences back into balance. This article will show what the warning signals of a weakened immune system look like and what we can do to make it work optimally.
What is our immunity made of?
Immune system is a shield. It is a protection against invading microorganisms, especially bacterias, viruses or fungi. It is made up from various components, that support each other, and form a huge network. It works as a supervising police, army and cleaning service all in one.
We are all born with the innate immunity. It is an oldest form of defense, protecting us almost immediately after bacteria or virus enters the body. Any foreign substance is detected and destroyed within a few hours. Components of inner immunity are phagocytes (digesting any germs), opsonins (cells marking germs as targets to be killed), other cells can directly kill them (natural killers, components). The important part is also mechanical and chemical protection offered by skin and mucous membranes. Inner immunity does not make difference between pathogens and its responses are not specific to them.
Meanwhile adaptive immunity, also referred to as acquired immunity, has a long-lasting response in about 3 or 5 days, but is highly specific to specific pathogens.
Adaptive immunity is not present at birth, but it is acquired during life. Its cells have an ability to remember microorganisms and when they are exposed to them in the future, the responses are tailored to maximally eliminate specific pathogens or pathogen-infected cells.
The main actors here are B-lymphocytes producing antibodies - immunoglobulins (Ig) and T-lymphocytes, which support B-cells to make antibodies and at the same time also respond by producing inflammatory substances, cytokines.
The method of birth, time of breastfeeding and also the environment in which we moved from the earliest age, are also important factors for building the immune defense.
Excessive hygiene at homeplace is not a completely good strategy for building strong immunity. Despite the fact that we could not influence many factors during this period, it is possible to strengthen the immune system and achieve the body's resistance by following a healthy lifestyle.
So how to build strong immunity?
Any disease is the result of some imbalance throughout the organism, caused by various reasons like - the environment we live in, lifestyle, food quality, movement or how our body reacts to stress. To keep our defense system healthy and in good condition for a long time is to keep our body functions in balance. Or better said, to maintain in balance factors that strengthen and weaken the immune system. Of course, there are many things we can not influence, like pollution. But we have to focus on all aspects we can influence and on the other hand, try to eliminate all elements that can cause a major burden on the body, which will contribute to the disruption of our internal environment.
Thus, the more we are exposed to negative factors that weaken the immune system, the more we need to focus on prevention. Living in a polluted city and having a busy program all day long, we need to focus on a nutritionally rich diet, quality food supplements, weekend trips to nature and, above all, quality sleep.
What factors lower the immune system?
- Lack of nutrients
- Poor quality food - high-carb food, simple sugars, highly processed foods, and flavorings
- Overuse of antibiotics and medicines in general
- Lack of movement
- Deteriorated environment
- Excessive cleaning at home
- Long-term elevated cortisol = chronic stress
What are the symptoms of a weak immune system?
Frequent colds, irritability, poorly healing wounds, indigestion and stomach pain, the appearance or rash, fatigue, may be the body's first signals that immune functions are being imbalanced. But we all can make several lifestyle and dietary changes today to strengthen your immune system.
How to strengthen immunity?
- Healthy gut - Many chronic metabolic diseases are believed to begin in the gut, because 80% of the immunity system is located here. We all have some degree of leaky gut. The intestinal epithelium acts as a semipermeable barrier between external and internal environment. First it allows the uptake of essential nutrients, while also being restrictive against pathogenic molecules and bacteria. Unhealthy food, especially the ultra-processed kind and chronic stress causes inflammation and the intestinal wall loses their integrity. It starts allowing harmful molecules to enter into a body.
- Regular movement and exercise - contributes to the reduction of stress hormone levels, reduction of chronic inflammation in the body and according to some research has also a positive effect on the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
- Melatonin - a hormone that synchronizes our sleep-wake cycle and also helps to strengthen the immune system. Its production by the pineal gland is strongly influenced by light (light causes that production to stop). Thus, we can achieve quality sleep only in absolute darkness, without the negative effects of blue lights. The highest levels of melatonin are produced between 10 pm and 6 am.
- Dietary supplements - nutrients that we obtain from food and dietary supplements, play a very important role in supporting and developing immunity. A nutritional deficiency can alter the body's immune response. All vitamins, minerals and trace elements play an important role in the body, but some of them have a specific effect on immunity such as copper and zinc (part of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase), iron, selenium, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C (supports integrity of the skin and mucous membranes, collagen production and iron absorption and also it is a powerful antioxidant), vitamin E (strong antioxidant), vitamin D (growth and cell formation), vitamin A.