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How To Build Your Immune System: Diet and Exercise

  • Published: 2013-12-29 (Revised/Updated 2018-03-16) : Author: Thomas C. Weiss : Contact:
  • Synopsis: Information relating to the human immune system including foods that help boost your immunity to certain health conditions.

Main Document

"A healthy, weekly diet of whole foods that build a person's immune system would consist of fruit, vegetables, seafood and whole grains."

Many people are familiar with the words, 'immune system,' but what do these words actually mean?

A person's immune system is designed to provide a barrier between the person and invaders such as infectious organisms. To accomplish this, a person's body has specialized infection fighters in various organs, cells, tissues and proteins throughout their body, to include their spleen, lymph system, bone marrow, digestive tract, and thymus gland. Some of a person's immune system's cells are tasked with identifying foreign agents; others produce protective substances referred to as, 'antibodies,' designed to protect the person against repeat visitation by a substance. After a person has had chicken pox, for example, antibodies created by your immune system protect you from experiencing that specific illness again.

The immune system is incredibly efficient when it is working appropriately. Yet with such an extensive system spread throughout the body things may go wrong. That is when common colds turn into bronchitis or worse and infections keep returning no matter which antibiotic a doctor administers. When this occurs it is time to concentrate on repairing broken immunity.

Repairing Broken Immunity

A healthy immune system does not simply happen. You need to provide an environment in which the different elements have the opportunity to thrive. The modern world presents obstacles; in addition to a number of ever-evolving viruses and bacteria, people are surrounded by pollutants and toxins that constantly challenge our individual efforts to remain healthy. Maintaining a strong and responsive immune system is not that hard as long as you are vigilant and keep some basic guidelines in mind.

An excellent place to start is by eating a nutritious diet of whole foods, which means unprocessed and unrefined foods, instead of fast or processed foods. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water and sleep at least eight hours each night. Exercise moderately several times each week. 'Exercising moderately,' means just that - more is not necessarily better. Several studies have shown that too much exercise may backfire on a person, depleting their immune system instead of reinforcing it.

It is also essential to learn to manage stress, which is one of the immune system's biggest enemies. If you have been relying on a daily drink or two to relax it might be a good time to consider stopping the habit, at least for a while. Researchers have discovered that alcohol seriously dampens a person's immune system and its ability to attack invading organisms.

Another easy way to recharge your immune system is with humor. There is a substantial amount of research showing that laughter is connected closely to wellness and healing. Remembering something funny, or taking a moment to listen to another person's joke can help you to smile while perking up your immune system at the same time.

Supplements to Strengthen Your Immune System

Chart showing information regarding immune system and supplements
About This Image: Chart showing information regarding immune system and supplements
In the meantime, specific supplements might make a large difference in immune effectiveness. Bear in mind that it takes time for herbal and other remedies to work so be patient. People often times experience results in 2-3 weeks, but on occasion it might take a month or more for blood levels of a particular substance to reach a, 'tipping point,' and for healing to start.

Another recommendation is a large bowl of chicken soup for those who want to increase their immunity. Not only is this a time-honored tradition during cold and flu season, but a scientifically proven remedy! Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center put homemade chicken soup to the test. The researchers concluded that chicken soup does reduce inflammation associated with colds and upper respiratory infections.

Whole Foods and Your Immune System

Chart showing information regarding immune system and whole foods
About This Image: Chart showing information regarding immune system and whole foods
A healthy, weekly diet of whole foods that build a person's immune system would consist of fruit, vegetables, seafood and whole grains. For people who simply do not make the time to eat as healthy as we know we should, whole food supplements are the next best thing to pursue. Studies at both the University of Florida and the University of Arizona discovered that certain whole food supplements support a number of important markers of proper immune function.

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