The purpose of the immune system is to protect the body from infection. So strengthening the immune system contributes to an individual’s whole body health and wellness. And for individuals with immunodeficiencies or autoimmune disorders, it is especially important to maintain a healthy immune system.
Our Primary Care providers are dedicated to helping patients establish and maintain a healthy immune system. In this post, we’ll cover the basic functions of the immune system; the benefits of keeping it strong; and suggest healthy ways to boost your immunity. Additionally, we’ll share how you can contact a WWMG provider for a personalized check on your immune system’s health.
What are the basic functions of the immune system?
The immune system’s main job is to defend and protect the body from infection. It achieves this through a complex network of organs, cells and proteins that “remember” any pathogen (germ) that the body identifies as an invader. If or when that invader returns, the immune system is activated, and will attack or eliminate the intruder to protect the body and keep cells healthy.
The skin also functions as an immune organ. As well as being a physical barrier to infections, the skin defends against pathogens and toxins by secreting oils with bacteria-killing properties. Other barriers in the body, like mucous and tears, can also be an effective immune system defense.
Additionally, the gut can also be a helpful defense against illness. Prioritizing good nutrition and digestive health are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system.
What are the benefits of a strong immune system?
The benefits of having a strong immune system include:
- lower chance of contracting infections and disease
- increased energy, and
- better overall health and well being
The more a person does to keep their immune system strong at every stage of life, the more chance they’ll have of staying healthy and minimizing illness.
What are some healthy ways to strengthen your immune system?
Seniors and the elderly more vulnerable to infection or disease due to a natural reduction in immune system protection as they age. There are many ways for a person of any age to boost their immune system and keep it strong.
Here are some ways to strengthen the immune system:
- Eat healthy. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean proteins will help maintain a healthy weight and provide essential nutrients, which are key to preventing a variety of ailments.
We recommend eating a variety of whole foods including vegetables and fruits that are a rainbow of colors (usually an indicator of nutritional value, Omega 3s, and antioxidants). Choose leaner meats such as turkey or chicken, rather than red meats, and whole grains that are rich in fiber.
Talk to your primary care provider before taking supplements, as some may interact with prescribed medications.
- Adopt positive lifestyle behaviors. Getting regular aerobic exercise improves circulation, elevates body temperature, and assists in clearing bacteria out of bronchial airways.
Limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking can reduce short- and long-term health risks associated with these behaviors.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day keeps the body hydrated. Hydration is important for cells and tissues to work properly, as well as moderating body temperature and helping to flush out waste products.
- Prioritize sleep and stress relief. Making sleep a priority and getting ample rest allows the body to recharge and replenish.
Practicing mindfulness or other mind-body techniques can help reduce stress, regulate emotions, and decrease anxiety and depression.
- Get Immunized. Vaccines help the immune system develop antibodies to specific foreign invaders. Keeping up with annual or seasonal vaccinations available for the flu, COVID-19, shingles (for those 50 or older), plus any required travel immunizations, is essential to maintaining a strong immune system.
Where to get support for immune system health
If you want to keep your immune system strong, or need a personalized plan for strengthening your immune system, request an appointment at one of our locally-owned Primary Care Clinics. WWMG Primary Care providers are dedicated to helping patients keep their immune systems strong and healthy at every stage of life.