Fall is the time of year when people tend to contract the flu or common cold. Although the dramatic change in temperature seems to account for this onslaught of sickness, it is actually caused by rhinovirus and coronavirus; the two most common causes of colds. These viruses flourish in cold weather, thus the reason people tend to get sick this time year.
It is for this reason that you should have all the facts on protecting your immune system this season.
What is the Immune System?
Although it works constantly to fight off the negative effects of germs, many people may not fully understand what the immune system is. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to fight off foreign invaders. These invaders can consist of infection-causing organisms including:
In order to communicate most effectively, the organs of the immune system are positioned throughout the body. The organs of the immune system are known as lymphoid organs, and contain lymphocytes, or small white blood cells critical to fighting off infection. There are lymph nodes located in the neck, adjacent to the arm pits, and in the upper region of the leg. Bone marrow also contains lymphocytes. By being spread out throughout the body, the organs of the immune system are able to attack a foreign invaders no matter where they enter the blood stream.
Why You Need a Healthy Immune System
Having a healthy immune system allows your body to do everything in its power to keep you from getting sick. When your immune system is not functioning properly, you are more susceptible to sickness and disease.
Many factors affect the overall health of your immune system. Some of these include:
- Lack of sleep
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic stress
- Poor diet
When the immune system is weakened, people are more susceptible to diseases including diabetes and heart disease.
Tips on Boosting Your Immune System
If you feel that your immune system is not in prime condition, consider some of the following steps you can take to boost your immune system’s productivity.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress takes a toll on your immune system. Whether it’s from work, relationships, or financial strain, it is important to find ways to deal with this stress. Consider meditation, light exercise, or getting a massage during times of high stress. This will help your body calm down and take the strain off of your immune system.
- Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet of foods rich in key nutrients will naturally promote the health of your immune system. This includes healthy fats, lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If your immune system is weak, it is crucial to avoid foods and drinks high in sugar. Microbes feed off of sugar, so refrain from candy, soda, and alcohol when possible. If you are not receiving the right amount of nutrients from your diet, consider adding vitamins and supplements to bridge the gap.
- Get your sleep: Sleep is the time of a day where your body heals itself. Without the proper amount of sleep, the immune system begins to weaken over time. Lack of sleep leads to weight gain, diabetes, and can cause you to contract the flu or common cold. For adults, at least 7 hours of sleep per night is critical in their overall health.
Your immune system is your body’s natural defense against foreign invaders including bacteria and viruses. Keep your immune system strong and ready to fight this fall, by following these helpful tips.