Ways to boost the immune system

By Nurul Saadah

Health authorities and scientists around the world are racing to halt the spread of a deadly virus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year. Thousands of people have already contracted the new coronavirus, which causes respiratory illness.

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public-health emergency of international concern”. It is an alarm reserved for events that pose a risk to multiple countries and which requires a coordinated international response.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some are infecting people and known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, is called 2019-nCoV.

As of February 2020, no federally approved vaccines exist to prevent coronavirus infections. According to the CDC, there are no available treatments for any human coronavirus. In this case, people who catch a common coronavirus usually recover on their own and can ease the process by taking pain and fever medications, using a humidifier, taking hot showers, drinking plenty of fluids and staying home to rest. Similar regimens are used to relieve the symptoms of more severe coronavirus infections.

It is crucial to take preventive actions to avoid the spread of respiratory viruses and have a strong immune system.
The immune system is the body’s first line of defence. Thus, we should strive to keep it strong.

According to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the immune system is to prevent or limit infection.
The immune (ih-MYOON) system attacks germs and helps in keeping people healthy.

The immune system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognising a variety of “danger” cues called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). 

Infectious microbes such as viruses and bacteria release a set of signals recognised by the immune system called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).

When the immune system recognizes these signals, it responds to address the problem. If an immune response cannot be activated when there is a sufficient need, problems arise, such as an infection. On the other hand, when an immune response is activated without a real threat or is not turned off once the danger passes, different problems such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease will arise.

On the whole, the immune system does a remarkable job of defending human against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails. A germ invades successfully and makes people sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost the immune system?

With little changes in daily diet and routine, we can ensure that our immune system is strong enough to protect ourselves against the virus infection.

According to Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School, researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving our immune system the upper hand.

Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables

For information, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts can supply us with essential nutrients for our immune system. Consuming them on a daily basis boosts the immunity.

For example, blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person’s immune system. A study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system.

Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.

Besides that, add oranges and kiwis in our diet. These are the excellent sources of vitamin C, which is the vitamin that many people turn to when they feel a cold developing.

While scientists are still not sure exactly how it helps, vitamin C may reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the immune system.

Exercise regularly, minimising stress

Working out on a regular basis has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise mobilizes the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection. Exercise may contribute 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.

It is recommended to strive for 30 minutes of daily exercise, at least five times a week.

This indirectly helps in improving the ability to sleep and the sleeping quality, which in turn reduces stress. Studies have found that stress is linked to many health problems, including suppression of the immune system, as reported by The Star.

However, remember that continuous extreme workout weakens the immune system, leaving you prone to flu and viral infections. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider moderate regular exercise to be a beneficial arrow in the quiver of healthy living, for keeping your immune system healthy along with the rest of your body.

Stop the habit of smoking

As we know, smoking can cause severe damage to our health. It not only increases the risk of cancer but it also impairs the immune system. Smoking is said to have a negative impact on both adaptive and innate immunity. It can also increase the chances of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses as well as reduces the effectiveness of our immune system’s defences.

Step out in the sun

According to Healthcare in America, stepping out in the natural light is one of the major contributors to the production of Vitamin D in our body. Vitamin D is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system because it helps in producing the body’s antibodies.

Low level of Vitamin D in the body has been termed as one of the major reasons for respiratory problems. A brisk walk in the sunlight for 10–15 minutes will ensure that enough Vitamin D is produced in the body.

It is important for everyone to know what they can do in order to strengthen and improve their immune system, especially during this coronavirus outbreak. By taking care of our body inside and out, we can improve the ability to fight off infections. Most importantly, do not forget to do a thorough checkup and seek for a medical help if you get frequent cold, other illnesses and if you concerned regarding your immune system.***

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