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Immunity Boosters and Vitamins - Need for a Healthy Immune System

Immunity Boosters and Vitamins - Need for a Healthy Immune System

Posted By HealthcareOnTime Team Posted on 2021-10-28

IMMUNE BOOSTERS - Recharging Our Body
The seasonal colds and Flu, Turning people pale and blue. Why doesn't it treat everyone the same?
Your Immunity is to blame!

Imagine a cold winter night, you are all cuddled up in your blanket, with a mug of hot chocolate and your favorite book. And there comes the mood spoiler.. Aachoo! Ever wondered why some people fall ill so often whereas some stay tall even when surrounded by sickness? It all depends on one's immunity!

Immunity Boosters and Vitamins - Need for a Healthy Immune System

The immune system is a complex network composed of specialized cells, organs, tissues, proteins and biological responses integrated into the entire body. Together, they help the body to detect and fight off pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites) that cause infection or disease. On coming in contact with a pathogen, the immune system triggers an immune response. It releases antibodies which attach to antigenic receptors on the pathogens and kill them. It can broadly be divided into two parts: Innate Immunity, which is the natural protection that we are born with, our first line of defense to combat infection and Adaptive Immunity, which is the protection that we gain throughout life as we are exposed to diseases or protected against them from vaccinations. Greater the immunity of a person, lesser are the chances of falling sick.

As soon as we hear the term - Immunity Boosters, we think of vaccines or shots, but as a matter of fact, there are various dietary and lifestyle factors that could help boost one's immunity naturally and improve the overall health of the individual.

Factors Affecting Immunity
The immune response differs from person to person as there are several factors that influence the immune response of a person, which include:

The immune response is the weakest at both extremes of age. A child is born with an immature immune system which matures and develops memory during childhood and adulthood, and wanes off with age. Therefore, newborns are at a greater risk of infections. While some people age healthily, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases as compared to younger people. This might be due to the thymus weakening with age and producing fewer T cells (a type of white blood cells which guards the body against infection). Also, older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets, therefore, micronutrient malnutrition is common, which in turn affects the immunity.

Like any other fighting force, the immune system army too marches on its stomach. Regular nourishment is needed to keep the immune system warriors healthy. Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in strengthening the immune system whereas high fat and high-calorie diets trigger an immune response similar to a bacterial infection. People living in poverty and who are malnourished are more susceptible to infections as certain micronutrient deficiencies alter the immune responses.

The mind and body have a closely linked relationship. A wide variety of illnesses including upset stomach, hives, and even heart disease, are associated with the effects of emotional stress. Chronic stress caused by frequent stressors like relationship with family and friends, or challenges to perform well at work suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. It interferes with the T-cells to reproduce and receive signals from the body.

Just like a healthy diet, exercise too can contribute to the overall good health and therefore, a healthy immune system. Moreover, it promotes better blood circulation, which allows the T-cells and substances of the immune system to move freely through the body and do their job efficiently. However, continuous rigorous physical activity weakens the immune system, making the body more prone to flu and viral infections. Therefore, adequate amount of exercise is required to get the most benefit out of it.

Feeding The Immune System Consuming a balanced diet containing the recommended amount of nutrients helps to maintain a normal immune system. A general rule is - The more colourful your food looks, the more beneficial it is for your immunity.

Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins A , B6, C, D and E, and minerals such as zinc , selenium play a vital role in mediating the immune response. vitamin C is known to be the best immune booster and is found in foods like orange, grapefruit, spinach, etc.
Herbs and supplements: Herbs like Echinacea, Elderberry, etc. reduce the duration and severity of illness. Using vitamin and mineral supplements provide the essential nutrients but are not as effective as getting the nutrients directly from food.
Soluble fiber: It helps to heal faster from infections by producing antiinflammatory immune cells.
Probiotics: They balance the adverse effects of antibiotics by keeping your gut healthy and the immune system ready to respond to new infections.

Lifestyle Changes for Better Immunity Choosing a healthy lifestyle is the first line of defense to keep your immune system strong and healthy naturally. The immune system, like any other body part, functions better when protected from environmental factors and boosted by healthy living strategies which include:

-Following a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts
-Minimizing stress - Practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing in your regular routine
-Exercising regularly
-Getting adequate sleep
-Stepping out in the sun - A 10 to 15 minute walk in the sunlight wit produce enough vitamin D in the body
-Taking steps to avoid infection - Washing hands frequently and cooking food adequately
-Maintaining a healthy weight
-Drinking alcohol in moderation only
-Quitting Smoking
To achieve the goal of a healthy body, just being healthy externally is not enough, but ensuring a stronger immunity by following natural steps to boost your immune system is also essential. Minimal efforts and modifications in your daily diet and lifestyle would help in minimizing the toxins in the body and provide the required nutrients which are essential for maintaining good health and a healthy immune system. Monitoring your immune system's health will not only safeguard you from falling sick, but also prevent deadly diseases like cancer in the latter phase of your life.

Minimizing stress, Exercising, following a proper Diet - The MED for Better Immunity!

Vitamins - Need for a Healthy Immune System

Have you ever been confused at a grocery store or market on what to buy? What would be beneficial for your and your family's health? Here's a general rule to help you choose the best next time - The more colorful the fruits and vegetables are, the better!

The common saying - An apple a day keeps the doctor away! might actually be true as it is found that eating nourishing foods rich in certain vitamins can boost your immune system and help fight off illness. The aim is to consume a wide variety of foods which will ensure that you are getting as many health-boosting vitamins and nutrients as possible. Let's learn the ABCDE of vitamins and how it benefits our immune system.

Getting your Vitamins - From A to E!
Vitamins are the essential components of our diet and there are six types of vitamins - A, B complex, C, D, E and K required for the normal functioning and growth of the body. The major vitamins essential for strengthening and maintaining a healthy immune system are as follows:

Vitamin A
Vitamin A helps protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy, and regulate the immune system. Foods that are rich in carotenoids are rich sources of Vitamin A. The body converts these carotenoids into Vitamin A, and they have an antioxidant effect to help strengthen the immune system against infections.For getting your daily dose of Vitamin A, the best option is to go colourful. Colourful fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, squash, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots are rich sources of this vitamin.

Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B Complex consists of 8 vitamins, out of which B6 and B9 play a role in immunity. Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in supporting around 200 biochemical reactions in the body and is critical to how the immune system functions. Vitamin B6-rich foods include bananas, lean chicken breast, cold water fish such as salmon and tuna. It is also found in baked potatoes, green vegetables and chickpeas. Vitamin B9 is often added to foods because of its health benefits. To make your diet rich in Vitamin B9, consume more beans, peas as well as leafy green vegetables on a regular basis.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is thought to be one of the biggest immune system boosters of all and a lack of it can even make an individual more prone to getting sick. It acts as an antioxidant by fighting the free radicals, a type of unstable molecule that causes damage to the immune system, in the body. This helps prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease, and promote healthy aging. It also provides protection against infection by stimulating the formation of antibodies and boosting immunity, particularly in people under major stress. Because your body cannot produce or store Vitamin C, daily intake of this vital vitamin by consuming Vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits and tangerines), strawberries, red and green bell peppers, leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale and broccoli), brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit and papaya is essential for better immunity.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D , works together with T cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the immune system's ability to fight off infection and disease. It is always the best to get most of your vitamins from food, but Vitamin D is an exception. Many people have a hard time absorbing Vitamin D from food and therefore, it is advised to take Vitamin D supplements in case of deficiencies.

However, getting regular exposure to sunlight and increasing the intake of foods rich in Vitamin D like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines), eggs and dairy will help maintain your Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E also acts as a powerful antioxidant by neutralizing the free radicals, thereby helping the body fight off infections and improving the immune function. Maintaining ample levels of this vitamin is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system, especially among older people.

Vitamin E-rich foods like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli and vegetable oils (safflower oil) should be added to your diet to increase the intake of this vitamin.

Also, Vitamin K acts as a cofactor for some proteins, thereby affecting the immune and inflammatory responses mediated by T cells

Vitamin Supplements - Boon or Bane? The body absorbs and utilizes vitamins and nutrients better when they come from a dietary source rather than supplements. When taking supplements, it is difficult to determine the amount of vitamin you are actually getting. Moreover, supplements are not regulated as drugs but foods, and therefore, the Food and Drug Administration does not evaluate the quality or assess the effects of these supplements on the body. Thereby, even though supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet, the best way to load up on essential vitamins is to get them straight from food.

A Gradual Change Creating the foundation of a healthy lifestyle by maintaining healthy eating habits is the best defense. It is important to take a long-term approach to build a strong immune system as you cannot just eat an orange or grapefruit and expect a quick burst of vitamin to protect you from catching a cold. A truly healthy immune system depends on maintaining a balance between vitamins

Stress And Immune interactions Imagine coming back home from office and still not getting the image of your boss yelling at you out of your mind. Maybe you are worried that your roommate is going to start a fight all over again. And all this is somehow making you feel tensed, irritable, tired, and negative. This physical and mental tension caused by our day-to-day life problems is "stress." For most of us, stress is a part of life. Sometimes it lasts for a few hours like the time leading up to a final exam or lasts for many years like when you are taking care of an ailing loved one. Stress, sometimes acts as a motivator that helps you rise to the occasion. At other times, it is simply overwhelming. Whatever the case may be, if it is chronic, it can take a toll on the immune system!

Good And Bad Stress Stress is not always a bad thing. Feeling stressed can sometimes feel perfectly normal, for example, stress keeps you alert for your big math test. Being stressed-out motivates you to focus on the work. Stress that is beneficial and motivating is good stress (active stress) like, climbing tree fast enough to avoid a bear attack. Whereas, stress that causes anxiety and even health problems is bad stress (chronic stress) like, your boss is no longer yelling at you, but the state of stress is anyhow lingering. Your roommate has not started a fight, but you are already experiencing stress about it. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue, depression, and even heart disease.

Impact of Stress on Immune System The Immune System The immune sytem consists of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream .They move in and out of tissues and organs , protecting the body against foreign bodies (antigens) such as bacteria viruses and even cancerous cell.but chronic stress can harm us by working against our immune system .

The main types of immune cells are white hemoglobin (WBCs). There are two types of WBCs , lymphocytes and Phagocytes .

Two types of lymphocytes are : B-cells: They produce antibodies which are relesed inti the fluid surrounding the body's cells to destroy the invading microorganisms .

T-cells: If somehow the invader gets inside a cell, T cells lock on to the infected cell mutiply and destroy it .

When stress is experienced, the brain causes a reaction that prepares the body to fight response by reducing the immune sytem's ability to fight antigens .And that is the reason why we are more susceptible to infections .The stress hormone cortisol can suppress the effctiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).

Many people use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress , such as drinking and amoking, which indirectly affects the immune system .

There are a few side effects of weakened immune system temporary increase in stress; functioning. Mentioned below are however, anxiety, Depression, or some types of psychophysiological insomnia can occur when stress is disorders: experienced over a long period of Cardiovascular, e.g., hypertension , time. Prolonged stress also puts a person at risk for high blood pressure digestive problems or heart disease . stress is also linked to headaches, infectious illness (e.g.flu), diabetes asthma and gastric ulcers. And rememder , this is all in addition to the weakened immune system that is less able to fight off illnesses!

Psychophysiological Disorders Physical disorders or diseases whose symptoms are worsened by stress and emotional factors are called Psychophysiological disorders. The physical symptoms of these disorders are real and they can be produced or worsened by psychological factors. If the reactions that compose the stress response are chronic or if they are frequently exceeding the normal ranges, they can lead to progressive wear and tear of the body, in much Signals of Too Much Stress the same way like running your air conditioner on full blast all summer will eventually cause wear and tear of it. For example a person with high blood pressure under considerable job strain might eventually taka a toll on his heart and set the stage for a heart attack ar heart failure . Also if someone is exposed to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol then the person might become cortisol then the person might become vulnerable to infection or disease because of Weakened immune system functioning. Mentioned below are some types of psychophysiological disorders .

-Cardiovascular, e.g., hypertension coronary heart disease
-Gastrointestinal, e.g., irritable bowel syndrome
-Respiratory, e.g., asthma,allergy
-Musculoskeletal, e.g., lower back pain, tension headaches
-skin problems, e.g., acne, eczema, etc

Signals of Too Much Stress It may be tough to tell when someone is experiencing good or bad stress but there are important ways that the body lets you know that you are struggling with too much stress like:
-Inability to concentrate completed tasks
-Get sick more often with cold
-Body ache
-Illnesses like autoimmune diseases
-Trouble falling asleep or staying
-Changes in appetite
-More angry or anxious than usual

How can you manage your stress levels?
Stress reduction strategies not only help give your mind a break, but also help in relieving the pressure from your immune system. Steps can be taken to reduce short-term and longterm stress. Because the effects of stress are cumulative, even ordinary, day-to-day activities can eventually lead to more serious health issues. So it is important to be aware of the simple daily stress in our lives. Some of the mind-body therapies that hel preverse the stress are:

Meditation: Meditating for 10-15 minutes, three or four times weekly can lower your stress. It reduces your cortisol levels and reduces inflammation. It also helps prevent the breakdown of your DNA that leads to cancer and premature aging.
Yoga: Practicing yoga also lowers stress hormone levels and calms the nervous system to reduce inflammation. Deep breathing helps boost your
Positive Thinking: People who believe that they are doing better, actually do better than those who have the same physical condition but are not that positive.
Behavior Modification Techniques: Changing how we act can break habits that trigger stress reactions.
Social Support: People with strong social support have better overall health and are more resistant to infections and diseases.

Stress in acute situations, can be healthful and protective as discussed earlier, so it is not all bad for us. We have to remember that it is the negative stress that we seek to control.

Exercise - Swaying Away Maladies

Everyone knows that exercise will help them fit into their favorite jeans, but the payoffs are far greater than just looking good, as fitness can actually help fight diseases. However, the present generation is too busy to get up from their bed and do some exercise. Sedentary and machine dependent life has risked the health of Indians. We do not climb stairs anymore and instead, wait for lifts. Nowadays, most Indians in urban areas do not walk to a neighborhood store, but rather order groceries on phone for home delivery or drive down. Artificial intelligence is getting advanced day by day but is indirectly affecting people by making them more lazy and prone to diseases/disorders.

Type of Exercises Exercise is not only about going to gym and lifting weights but is much more than that. There are also gentler conservation exercises such as motion exercises including stretching and isometric contractions (muscle activity fixed at fixed length). The types of exercises are aerobic, non-aerobic, and aerobic plus non-aerobic. Aerobic exercise is based on elevating one's heart rate whereas, non-aerobic exercise aims to strength-train without needing to raise one's heart rate significantly. Aerobic combined with non-aerobic exercise works to keep one's heart rate up while you do muscle strengthening. Last but not the least, stretching and isometric contraction work is light exercise, and generally good for individuals as a starting point. Adults should undergo at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week to have substantial overall health benefit, which can be accomplished by 30 minutes of activity per day for 5-7 days a week. A breathing exercise to help strengthen the respiratory system is diaphragmatic breathing techniques done in different positions.

Exercise: Prevent, Cure and Treat Diseases The benefits of exercise are far beyond just weight management. Physical activity can reduce one's risk for several diseases or health conditions and it improves the overall quality of life. Regular physical activity can help protect you from the following health conditions:

Heart Disease and Stroke Daily exercise can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening the heart muscle, lowering the blood pressure, raising the High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) levels (good cholesterol), lowering the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) levels (bad cholesterol), improving blood flow, and increasing heart's working capacity. Optimizing each of these factors can provide benefits of decreasing the risk for Peripheral Vascular Disease.

High Blood Pressure Regular physical activity can reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure levels. Exercise also reduces body fat, which is associated with high blood pressure.

Non-insulin-Dependent (Type 2) Diabetes By reducing body fat, physical activity can help prevent and control this type of diabetes.

Obesity Exercise helps to reduce body fat by building or preserving muscle mass and improves the body's ability to use calories. When physical activity is combined with proper nutrition, it helps control weight and prevent obesity , a major risk factor for many diseases.

Osteoporosis Regular weight-bearing exercise under expert's supervision promotes bone formation and may also prevent many forms of bone loss associated with aging.

Self Esteem And Stress Management Regular physical activity can improve one's mood and the way one feels about themselves. Exercise also reduces depression and anxiety and helps in managing stress

Disability Running and aerobic exercise postpones the development of disability in older adults.

So always keep these health benefits in mind when deciding whether or not to exercise .

Exercise For Adults Of All Age At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise like running should be done every week. It is fine to break up exercise into smaller sessions as long as each one lasts at least 10 minutes. Strengthtraining that works on all major muscle groups like legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms for at least two days a week can

Exercise For Pregnant Women Aerobic exercises are considered safe for most pregnant women. It is always a good idea to review the exercise plan with a doctor.

Exercise For Children Children should do vigorous exercises and strength training, like push-ups or gymnastics, for at least three days. 60 minutes of physical activity a day, can be devoted to aerobic exercise.

Exercise: An Immune Booster Exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living as it improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. But does it help to boost one's immune system naturally and keep it healthy? Just like a healthy diet, exercise also contributes to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It also contributes even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Stay Fit, Stay Healthy Whether you are 9 or 90 years old, abundant evidence show that exercise can enhance one's health and well-being. But for many people, sedentary pastimes such as watching TV, surfing internet, or playing computer and video games, have replaced more active pursuits. Hence, it is important for all of us to stay active, as the primary goal is to maintain activity!


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