In recent times, we have been experiencing a major change in the lifestyle, probably a good one and much deserved. Most of us have realised the value of maintenance of good health and prevention of diseases. The pandemic season like this, though just for the time-being, has shown us the importance of total wellbeing. However, maintaining our health and overall immunity is not an overnight process and is a result of consistent efforts of a conscious healthy diet, lifestyle, proper sleep and mindfulness.
To manage our nutritious diet to maintain our immunity, we need to understand the complex structure of our immune system, the factors that affect its balance and measures to prevent this imbalance.
Let’s first see, how our immune system is designed?
Immune system as mentioned before is a set of complex mechanisms devised by our body to protect us from a variety of external harmful stimuli, microbes and foreign invaders. It is just like a complete in – house security system of our body. It is spread across the body in different forms like White Blood Cells, Immunoglobulin, Physical barriers etc. Technically, humans have two types of immunity: innate and adaptive.
It is a first line of defence that protect us from pathogens that try to enter our bodies, achieved through protective barriers like skin, mucus membrane, stomach acid, enzymes in our sweat, immune cells etc.
Adaptive or Acquired Immunity:
It is a system that learns to identify, recognize and remember a pathogen controlled by the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. It is regulated by organs and cells in our body like the thymus, spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes. They develop specific antibodies for that particular pathogen and preserve them in the memory so that next time when the same pathogen is encountered, the body can readily fight against it. Inflammation is an important process in the fight against these pathogens through which the body tries to destroy the pathogen and facilitate recovery. However, uncontrolled, chronic or severe reactions of inflammation deserve the attention to be tackled by the physician to prevent damage to our body. Thus, immunity remains the dominant factor in prevention and cure of any illness.
What are the factors that create imbalance in the immune system?
Now that we have understood the importance of immune system, we need to understand the common factors that can disturb this immune response:
- Poor nutrition
- Chronic stress
- Lack of quality sleep
- Environmental toxins and drug abuse
- Old age
- Chronic diseases
Can we maintain a healthy immunity through nutrition?
We need to first understand that all our body cells and functions including immunity are nourished by the food we eat. Healthy, comprehensive and less processed food always offers a holistic nutrition for the development and nourishment of all the body cells. It can prepare our body for the microbial attacks and regulate the inflammatory response.
Immune health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds with nutrition playing a key role. A variety of essential vitamins and minerals play an important role in supporting immune health. Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to a weakened immune system and greater susceptibility to infection. Support your immune system effectively by eating a balanced diet that includes protein, iron and antioxidants and other key vitamins and minerals.
However, those who are vulnerable as a result of poor immunity; with a stressful lifestyle and poor dietary habits may consume a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral or an herbal supplement to maintain a healthy immune response.