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Immunity and Host Defense
Our immune system provides us protection against all sorts of damaging bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other incompatible foreign organisms that may cause any kind of illness or disease. A healthy body with a fine functioning immune system remains healthy as its host defense mechanism identifies potential threats and distinguishes them from the body’s healthy cells and tissues. Our immunity and host defense cooperatively work together to protect us from falling ill.
The primary form of host defense mechanism can be classified as, ‘innate’, ‘inborn’, and ‘nonspecific’ immunity. This protects the body by generating protective responses and may also trigger secondary immune system actions if needed. The secondary form is known as ‘adaptive’, ‘acquired’ or ‘antigen-specific’ immunity. This form ensures protection through a network of lymphocytes, our infection-fighting cells, and their products.
Substantial research indicates that a balanced and healthy lifestyle can greatly impact and strengthen our host defense to tackle harmful organisms and prevent them from entering our bodies in the first place.
Foods That Strengthen our Host Defense
Certain foods can greatly impact and strengthen our defense mechanism. Feeding our body right is the first step to fight against all sorts of viruses and illnesses.
- Citrus foods that contain a high amount of vitamin C, like oranges, grapefruit, and limes increase the production of leukocytes, white blood cells that protect the body against foreign invaders and infections.
- Foods consisting of Vitamin A, C, E, fiber and other antioxidants can help your body flush out the toxins and stay strong. Broccoli, ginger, garlic, bell pepper, spinach, papaya, kiwi, almonds, shellfish, poultry, and sunflower seeds can help boost our immunity and host defense.
- Yogurt contains Vitamin D that regulates our immune system.
- Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and green tea acts as an anti-oxidant to boost our body’s natural defense against diseases.
Reducing Stress and Increasing Antioxidant Levels
Stress increases inflammatory responses by producing stress hormones that not only tax our immune system but may also decrease immune cell count. To reduce stress, it is important to maintain a balance between work and leisure and give yourself enough relaxation time. You can try various stress-releasing activities such as exercise, meditation, yoga, painting or anything else that works best for you. If you are stressed out you can consult your physician and try taking adrenal support supplements or even consult a counselor. Getting the stress out of your body will flush out the toxins and increase antioxidant levels.
Sleep, Relax and Recharge
Recent research has shown substantial evidence for the relationship between host defense and sleep patterns. It suggests that sleep and particularly non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep has immuno-protective and supportive functions. Sufficient sleep aids our body in producing cytokines that help fight infections and inflammation. These infection-fighting proteins are produced and released during sleep. Research has provided evidence that severe sleep loss can even make the flu vaccines less effective by reducing our body’s response to it.
Energy and Exercise
Studies have proved that exercise and physical activity have shown significant effects on our defense mechanism and metabolic health. Exercise has an anti-inflammatory influence on our body in many ways. Exercise may also prevent cancers such as breast cancer. However, intense exercise can reverse the effects by increasing illness risk