Your immune system is a complex network of structures and functions that protects your body from pathogens, diseases and the overgrowth of cells. Healthy people are born with a highly functional innate immune system that begins its defensive work in early infancy. Pathogens that are able to evade this portion of your innate immune system then must face the more sensitive portion of your immune system called "the adaptive system." As finely balanced as your immune system is, the stresses and fast pace of life can weaken even the healthiest person.
Sleep is an important part of daily function that helps the brain and other parts of the body to rest and regenerate. Without adequate sleep, your body and brain cannot perform optimally and the ability to complete complex reasoning and retain memory is greatly diminished. One of the results of a body that is not performing optimally is a depressed immune system, because a lack of sleep impairs your body's ability produce immune cells. There is no definitive number for the amount of sleep your body needs, but the National Sleep Foundation research suggests that too much sleep is as detrimental to your health as too little sleep. Fewer than seven hours of sleep per night can increase mortality over time while getting more than eight hours of sleep can also increase mortality. That means that the ideal number of hours to spend in bed is within the seven-to-eight hour range.
Exercise is not just useful for building strong bones and muscles, but it is also important for building your immune system. Regular exercise can reduce the level of stress hormones in your body, increases the amount of defensive white blood cells, and increases the rate of elimination of harmful pathogens via sweat and urine.
Fruit and Vegetable
Fruit and vegetables are rich in phyto-chemicals, nutrients and vitamins that are beneficial in boosting immunity. Vitamin C is important for immunity because the high stores of it present in immune cells are easily depleted during times of infection. Many people assume that since vitamin C is good for you, large doses of it will be even more useful. However, large doses of synthetic vitamin C can be harmful to the liver. Instead, it is better to choose from the array of natural foods that contain vitamin C, like citrus foods and green vegetables.
Probiotics, otherwise known as beneficial bacteria, are living microorganisms that are similar to the flora already present in your gut. These bacteria have a multitude of strains and the availability of use to your body depends on the strain and the function it needs to serve. Eating foods with a high probiotic content can boost your immunity merely by outnumbering the strains of bad bacteria already in or attempting to enter your body.
- University of Hartford: Immune System
- BrynMawr University: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much sleep Do We Really Need?
- MedlinePlus: Exercise and Immunity
- PubMed: Vitamin C and Immunity: An Assessment of the Evidence
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Introduction to Probiotics