Build & Maintain Your Immune System!

May 1, 2020

Until the pandemic, many people didn’t think about their immune system.

Would you like an immune system that protects you against infections and cancer? An immune system that protects you against virulent viruses like COVID-19 coronavirus? Well of course you would, but you know until the pandemic, many people didn’t think about their immune system. Certainly they knew they had a cardiovascular system and a digestive system and a nervous system, but the immune system? That was out of the mainstream of thought for many individuals. However, with COVID-19, that all has changed.

Fortunately, building and maintaining a healthy immune system is really not all that difficult. You just need to pay attention to some very simple precepts.

First of all, behaviors. Regular exercise most days of the week. Second, get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Avoiding excessive alcohol; eliminating tobacco products and avoiding drugs are important as well.

Quality time with your loved ones, fresh air and sunlight, random acts of kindness all build our sense of inner well-being, overall health and  our immune systems. So lots of exercise, good rest, good respite, avoiding stress – those kinds of things build a healthy internal you.

Nutrition is incredibly important when it comes to a healthy immune system. It’s not good to be underweight, not good to be overweight and certainly not to be obese. All of these factors interfere with immune system function.

When it comes to nutrition, we need to have sufficient proteins –  omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids; quality calories, micronutrients in the form of fresh fruits and veggies and grains. And if you don’t like fresh fruits and veggies and grains, probably good to take a micronutrient multivitamin and mineral supplement.

And, certainly if you don’t live in the sunshine belt, foods fortified with vitamin D are important.

Vaccines are controversial in some circles, however, the World Health Organization stands firm on its position that vaccines are the single most important advance in medical science over the past century.

Well, why is that? There are two components of the immune system. There’s innate immunity – the organs that we come with at birth like the bone marrow and the spleen and thymus – and then there’s the  acquired or adaptive component of the immune system.

The innate system has no memory. It doesn’t know if you ever infected (with a virus or bacteria) and able to respond to a subsequent infection. On the other hand, the acquired or adaptive immune system is the brain or the memory of our immune system. When a virus or bacteria or fungi comes into the body, the adaptive immune system recognizes it and remembers it. The two systems (innate & adaptive) together fight the infection off to create health and wellness again, but the adaptive system remembers that you were infected with a microorganism similar to or the same and it can rapidly respond to subsequent future infections.

And that’s what vaccines do. Small amounts of viral or bacterial particles are administered to tweak or trigger the adaptive system to develop memory against it for rapid infection fighting deployment at the time of subsequent infections. Vaccines are really, really important and over the years they have been made much more safe and effective against infections and cancer.

This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! Take care of yourself. Build and maintain a strong immune system. Do the things that I’ve talk about. Practice healthy behaviors throughout your lifetime. And certainly avoid COVID-19 coronavirus.