Can you strengthen your immune system?

The ability to strengthen our immune system is always a good idea, however doing so has proved difficult for several reasons.

Our immune system is exactly that, “a system” not a single entity. According to Harvard Medical School, researchers and scientists are still learning about the bodies immune system and how it responds to diseases and unfortunately there is currently no scientifically proven way to enhance immune function. However, that doesn’t mean the effects of our “lifestyle” on our immune system shouldn’t be considered. Researchers are studying the effects of diet, exercise, age, stress, and several other factors on immunity in both animals and humans. While they complete their research there are some general healthy strategies we can implement to help our immune system stay strong and ready to fight for us.

Tips for keeping your immune system strong

Our best option is to follow good-health guidelines; it is the single best way to naturally keep our immune system strong and healthy. Our entire body, including the immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults while maintaining healthy-living standards like the following:

  • don’t smoke
  • eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • exercise regularly
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • drink in moderation
  • get plenty of sleep (this one is “very” important)
  • take steps to avoid infections by washing hands often, avoid touching contaminated surfaces, and avoid touching others
  • control and minimize stress (this one is also “very” important)
  • implement good food safety handling, refrigerate and store foods, don’t leave foods at room temperature more than 1.5 hours and thoroughly cook all foods

Courtesy of Dr. Starnbach, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Healthy immune system defeats invading bacteria (see read arrows in left photo) by engulfing and killing them (right photo)

Avoid products and supplements… instead boost immunity the healthy way

There are many products out there that claim to boost immunity but you should avoid them. Immunity is a very complex system with numerous cells, each designed to respond to a variety of microbes in varying ways. It is also important to know that increasing immune cells isn’t necessarily a good thing. A perfect example is athletes who engage in “blood doping” which is a process that increases the number of blood cells to enhance performance. This practice has a high risk of stroke.

While scientist are still working on fully understanding the immune system, what they do know is; our bodies continually generate immune cells and produce more lymphocytes than we can possibly use. These cells remove themselves via the natural process of cell death. Also, as we age our immune response is reduced which can lead to more infections. Certainly some people age healthy but in general the elderly are more likely to get infectious diseases and have a difficult time fighting them off.

Our best defense is to follow the guidelines above from Harvard Medical School and adapt our lifestyle around health choices and options.

What makes up our immune “system”?

Again, as you can see our immune system encompasses our whole body and the best way to keep our immune system strong is to eat a well balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, exercise and keep our bodies strong.

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