lifestyle

Health and Wellness: How To Build a Strong Immune System

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It is a little ironic that I am writing this post about the immune system with a head cold. If you remember in my last two posts, I wrote about avoiding sugar during the cold season as it affects your body’s ability to fight off colds among other things. But who could resist the yummy, once-a-year pumpkin pie? Apparently I couldn’t — and I am now fighting off my first cold of the year. I did enjoy my pumpkin pie immensely, though! But now I might think twice about indulging too much over Christmas!

I wanted to give a little background about our immune system and how it works in protecting our health. Our immune system is an intricate network of specialized organs, cells, and substances that is our body’s key defense against disease as well as an array of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections that we come in contact with every day just by breathing, eating and living our lives. Our immune system is busy removing cells that have been killed due to trauma, toxins, microbial attacks, and other processes that occur in the body every day.

Three Vital Defensive Strategies

There are three vital defensive strategies that our immune system utilizes:

  1. Our first line of defense is our skin and gastrointestinal tract that acts as a physical barrier and the millions of immune cells that help prevent an infection.
  2. The second line of defense is our bloodstream and our body’s inflammatory response.  That is why it is recommended not to treat a minor fever as it is the body’s way of fighting off the infection. With an inflammatory reaction we see our body become warm and/or swell and tissue redden. All of these responses happen to help contain the infectious agents and prevent them from spreading further. You don’t want an inflammatory response to go on too long as it can damage tissues and cells.
  3. The final line of defense is within our various organs in the body, particularly the spleen. liver, and lymph nodes (Source:  Alternative Medicine).

When our immune system is impaired we become vulnerable to illnesses. This can be due to environmental insults, chronic stress, a poor diet, toxins and food allergies among other assaults. The result is an immune system that becomes unbalanced and becomes either underactive or overactive.

According to the authors of the must-read book about health - Alternative Medicine: “A dysfunctional immune system can leave us vulnerable to illnesses such as allergies, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Cancer results when the immune system malfunctions and no longer recognizes and destroys cancer cells.” (Source: Alternative Medicine).

You can see it should be a priority to keep our immune system as strong as possible. This means we should pay attention to what types of foods we eat, try to manage our stress levels with exercise, and engage in activities that bring us peace of mind. This could mean going to lunch with some girlfriends, spending quality time with the family, and/or spending time at your place of worship. Whatever helps to calm the mind will in turn help to keep the body balanced as well. In my next post, I will talk more about ways to strengthen you body’s immune system.

Reference:

  • BurtonGoldberg, Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide.  2nd Edition by Celestial Arts.
How do you help make your immune system strong? How do you stay healthy during the colder months?

Melissa Northway, M.S. in Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer, and her company, Polka Dots Publishing, produces children’s picture book apps.  Her first storybook app, Penelope the Purple Pirate, has been chosen as a Top 10 Educational iPad App.  To help celebrate the holiday season, Penelope is having a Christmas/Holiday Giveaway. Follow Penelope the Purple Pirate on Facebook to learn about more about how to enter to win a $50 iTunes Gift Card and other goodies! You can reach her at: @melissanorthway and [email protected]

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