Nobody likes being sick.
Sometimes we have to deal with annoying colds, constantly blowing our noses and clearing our throats. Maybe we have to take time off from work because of a knockout flu. Or sickness forces us from social gathering and activities we enjoy.
We would all love to avoid sickness, but is there a way to improve our immune systems?
Is there a way that we can not only get through colds and flus faster, but become sick less often?
While nothing can guarantee a perfect immune system, there are steps you can take to increase your immunity. Some of these steps are common knowledge, some have strong scientific backing, and some are just all-around healthy decisions. When added up, they lead to greater well-being and a stronger immune system.
The first step, however, is understanding how your immune system works...
The Immune System at a Glance
How Does the Immune System Work?
The immune system is one of the most complex parts of our bodies, and we’re still not completely certain on all the details. However, we do have a basic, although incomplete, understanding of how the immune system works.
The immune system involves many different parts, including cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that work together to fight off germs, viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that can be harmful to our health.
The immune system usually works by trigging our “immune response,” which is the process by which the system attacks invaders. The immune response tells white blood cells, also called leukocytes, to seek out and destroy the disease-causing contaminant. White blood cells are produced and stored in multiple locations of the body, such as the thymus, spleen, and inside our bones.
The white blood cells circulate through our body, much like a police officer on patrol, looking for diseases and eliminating them when needed.
There are two types of white blood cells. The first are known as phagocytes. These are the strike force that destroys invading organisms. The second are known as lymphocytes. These help the body remember and recognize previous invaders, helping the body identify and destroy them quicker the next time they make an appearance.
When learning about the immune system, you’ll often come across the term “antigen.” Essentially, antigens are a catch-all term referring to any foreign substance in the body that triggers a response from the immune system. Antigens can include things formed inside the body but are commonly chemicals, bacteria, viruses, pollen, and other substances from the outside. Anything that the body does not recognize and attacks is considered an antigen.
Autoimmune disease is similar to allergies, but it is often more severe and long-lasting. With autoimmune disease, the body makes a mistake and attacks healthy, normal cells. This can lead to fatigue, muscle aches, and a low fever, as well as other health complications.
Allergies: The Immune System in Overdrive
The immune system is protective of our bodies and sometimes overreacts to outside stimulus, triggering what we know as allergies. Allergies are essentially just the immune system overreacting to things like pollen, pet dander, and dust.
Allergens are substances that trigger the overblown response from the immune system. For example, people who suffer from hay fever are being effected not by the pollen itself, but by their body’s overprotective response to it.
Air Purifiers and Immune Systems
Air purifiers can be very effective for removing bacteria and viruses from a home. For people who have compromised immune systems, having air purifiers in the room can make a strong impact on their overall health. Asthma and bronchitis are two diseases that can be at least controlled and mitigated by air purifiers.
Allergy Consumer Review recommends the Oransi V-Hepa Max as one of the top air purifiers for reducing the amount of bacteria and viruses in the air. This purifier uses a filter that is to remove many of the harmful contaminants that cause illness.
6 Ways to Boost the Immune System in a Healthy Way
There are real, effective ways to boost an immune system, and most of them come down to making lifestyle changes that improve your overall health. When implemented in a consistent manner, these steps will not only boost your immune system, they’ll improve your mind and body too!
Ready to improve your immune system while enhancing your overall wellbeing? Here’s how to make it happen...
It’s the crucial and, tragically, all-too-neglected step in health and well-being. Many doctors believe it’s also a key in having a strong immune system. But how can regular physical exertion help your body fight off viruses and infections. It’s believed that by improving circulation, exercise helps the flow of white blood cells, thereby contributing to an active immune system.
There are a few other theories related to exercise and immunity as well, although most of them are simply that: theories. Physical activity could flush out bacteria from the lungs and airways, and it could be that the rise in body temperature helps stop bacteria from growing. Exercise also reduces stress, which, as we’ll discuss later, harms an immune system.
According to the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, moderate exercise has a strong effect on the immune system, however, highly strenuous exercise over a long period may actually weaken the immune system. It’s unlikely that most people will push themselves to such extreme levels of exercise that their immune system will suffer. It’s far more likely that exercise will improve your immune system.
If you can, start getting at least 10 minutes of exercise a day. As you progressively feel stronger and more physically-capable, increase your times to as much as an hour or more a day. Your body will thank you, especially during cold and flu season.
Eat Healthy, an Immune Booster plus Health Benefit
A good immune system needs high-quality foods and nutrition to function properly, so make sure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables.
When people think of foods and immunity, they automatically think vitamin C, most often turning to oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as orange juice. Grapefruits, clementines, and tangerines all have a healthy serving of vitamin C as well. Some vegetables, including bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach also have loads of vitamin C.
But is vitamin C a real benefit or is this largely just a myth?
According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology information, studies have shown that the intake of vitamin C may reduce (although only slightly) the length of time of a cold. However, the report notes it does not reduce the severity or the frequency.
When it comes to vitamin C and other nutrients that boost the immune system, it’s better to eat consistently than to binge. In other words, eat oranges on a regular basis, even when you’re not sick, instead of eating a whole bag of oranges every time you get a sniffle. A steady diet of oranges and other vitamin C-rich foods is better for your health.
There is also a good reason to believe that deficiencies, such as too little zinc, selenium, or iron, which are all supplied by the foods we eat, will lead to a weakened immune system.
We could pour through study after study, but the real lesson is simple: eat a diverse, well-rounded diet based on vegetables and fruits and you’ll have better health and a stronger immune system.
A well-balanced diet of fruits and veggies will provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to build up your auto-immune system. The best advice is to eat a wide variety and colors of vegetables. As a general rule of thumb, the deeper the colors the more nutrients there are. For example, a green broccoli is more nutritious than light colored vegetable like celery.
A final thought is to consider foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect. Choose green leafy vegetables, broccoli, bok choy, blueberries, salmon, nuts and flaxseed. Also, think about drinks like green tea.
If you smoke, you’re certainly don’t want another lecture on the harmful effects of tobacco. We understand it’s hard, and most people want to quit but find it excruciatingly difficult. However, we’re going to bring it up once again because it really is that important.
Among other issues, tobacco smoke is known to reduce the fighting vigor of the immune system. Combatting everyday illnesses can become even more difficult if you are a smoker. Because of tobacco smoke’s harmful effect on the lungs, it can increase the chances of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Smoking also destroys antibodies in the blood stream, leaving you more vulnerable to severe infections. This means it can take longer for the body to fight these infections. It also harms antioxidants like vitamin C, which further reduces your chances of a healthy body.
It’s never easy, but if you can quit smoking you’ll reduce the air pollution in your home, improve your well-being, and boost your immune system. To learn more see our air purifiers for tobacco smoke.
The health-harming effects of emotional stress are no longer just a theory. It is a widely-accepted health fact that stress harms our minds and our bodies in ways that we don’t realize until, far too often, it’s too late.
Stress is an interesting phenomenon that dates back to our prehistoric ancestors.
Essentially, when under duress our caveman ancestors developed a physical reaction that sent hormones to the body, increasing strength and speed. If a cave bear attacked a prehistoric human, what we now call stress gave them faster muscles and more strength, helping them survive.
Now, however, stress at work, worries about finances, and concerns over health trigger the same survival mechanism. In small doses, stress is not all bad, but because of the constant barrage of worry in modern life, our bodies and minds start to suffer.
Studying the connection between stress and the immune system is difficult, but there are some reliable studies. In fact, a comprehensive review of stress-immune studies by researchers at the University of Kentucky found over 300 studies that looked at the relationship between stress and immunities. Results across these studies are, of course, diverse and sometimes contradictory, but the researchers found that these studies, taken as a whole, show stress can “modify” the immune system.
But how does stress modify or harm the immune system? It’s essentially believed that stress directs energy away from the immune system and into different areas of the body. This takes resources away from the immune system and can lower the body’s chances of fighting an infection.
Taking vitamin supplements, such as a vitamin C supplement, is a popular way to boost the immune system. However, the collective scientific community is still a little skeptical on whether or not these little capsules actually work to enhance your health or whether they are just a placebo.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, vitamin supplements should be used to fill gaps in your diet, such as adding B6 supplements if your food is lacking in this key component. They say that vitamin C, B6, and vitamin E supplements may be helpful to your immune system. These vitamins are crucial to a strong immune system and you may benefit from supplements.
However, they emphasize that good healthy foods have a stronger effect than supplements. They also say that supplement labels can be misleading, as the FDA doesn’t monitor them as drugs, but as foods, so be skeptical and always place a higher emphasis on a good diet over a supplement regimen.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Ahh, the healing power of sleep! As Health.com says, it’s great for reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and even improves creativity and cognition. It’s also great for improving your immune system.
It’s every mother’s prescription for a flu: get some sleep. It turns out there is strong scientific support for this claim. The connection between sleep and the immune system appears to be pretty complex (because, after all, the immune system itself is complex), but it’s believed that the circulation of T-cells (a form of white blood cells) is negatively impacted by less sleep. Lack of proper sleep can result in higher frequencies of illness, as well as more time fighting a cold or flu.
There have also been findings that people who get less sleep receive less protection from a flu vaccine and it takes our bodies longer to respond to immunizations.
So how much sleep should you get? The recommended amount for adults is seven to nine hours. If you need help getting more sleep, try sticking to a consistent schedule (even on weekend), reducing caffeine throughout the day, and getting rid of screens from the bedroom.
Improve Your Health with an Oransi Air Purifier
Improving the air quality in your home can improve your immune system indirectly. It will help you have cleaner air and less contaminants in your house, which can lead to better sleep and fewer bouts of sickness and allergic reactions.
Browse our selection of room air purifiers and filters and you’ll find all the right items for your home and office!
Want to learn more and clean the air? See this guide on how to choose an air purifier.