Immunity is the ability to resist harmful microorganisms that attack our bodies. It prevents pathogens that cause illness. Pathogens are foreign disease-carrying substances. It recognizes and tolerates whatever belongs to the self and rejects foreign. The immune system carries out this process.
How does the immune system work?
Your immune system protects your body against all harmful and foreign substances. These foreign and harmful substances are called antigens. Bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and toxins are the antigens. Also, cells that got damaged from cancer or sunburn. When your immune system recognizes an antigen, it attacks the antigens. This process is called an immune response. Part of this response is to make antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that destroy, weaken, or attack antigens. Your body’s immune system recognizes the antigen if it sees it again. It will send out the antibodies quickly, so you don’t get sick. There are different types of immunity, such as innate and adaptive. In this article, let us see in detail all about immunity and its types.
What are the types of immunity?
Natural or native immunity is another word for innate immunity. It is the defense system with which we were born. This has barriers that keep harmful materials away from your body. It has no relation with previous bacterial infection and immunization. This acts as the first line of defense against microorganisms. It comprises four types of defense barriers. They are:
Types of innate immunity:
Specific immunity: It is the total immunity of all species against pathogens.
Racial immunity: Different races show a marked difference in certain infectious diseases.
Individual immunity: It is very specific for everyone despite racial background for exposure.
Acquired immunity is another phrase for adaptive immunity. The name itself tells that it is not natural. It develops in the host’s body after exposure to suitable antigens. Or after antibodies transfer or lymphocytes from an immune donor. Characteristics of adaptive immunity are:
Types of adaptive immunity:
There are two types of adaptive immunity. They are:
Active immunity: It is acquired by natural exposure to a pathogen or by vaccination. It is sub-categorized into two types. Artificially acquired active immunity and naturally acquired active immunity.
Passive immunity: It is acquired by the transfer of immune products. Like an antibody or sensitized T-cells, from an immune to a nonimmune one. It is also of two types. Artificially acquired passive immunity and naturally acquired passive immunity.
How to boost immunity?
They are many ways to increase your immunity both naturally or artificially. You can increase it by medications, vaccinations got popular in this pandemic period. Now, we explore the natural methods to increase it to be on the safe side against all diseases:
Good and happy sleep is the first thing to increase it. Sleep and immunity are closely attached. Inadequate sleep leads to many health issues. Getting good rest may strengthen your immune system. Also, you may sleep more when you get sick, and you allow your immune system to fight the illness. Adults must get 7 or more hours of sleep every night. Teens need 8-10 hours, and younger children and infants need up to 14 hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed. Sleep in a completely dark room or use a sleep mask.
Related read: How much to sleep & tips to sleep better
Whole plant foods
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seeds boost your immune system. These are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help you resist harmful pathogens. These antioxidants help decrease inflammation by combating unstable compounds called free radicals. These free radicals can cause inflammation when they build up in your body at high levels. Meanwhile, the fiber content in plant foods feeds your gut microbiome. It improves immunity, avoids harmful pathogens entering your body via the digestive tract.
Fats found in olive oil and salmon boost immune response by decreasing inflammation. Although low-level inflammation is a normal stress response. Besides, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system. Olive oil is an anti-inflammatory that decreases the risk of chronic diseases. It also helps your body to fight harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Besides this, omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and chia seeds fight inflammation.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria available in fermented foods. These populate your digestive tract. Yogurt, enduri pitha, hawaijar, gundruk, dhokla, and sel roti are rich in probiotics. Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria helps your immune cells. They differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms. According to NCBI, people who have taken these fermented foods have less affected. Probiotics are another option for fermented foods.
Exercises can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy movement of immune cells. Exercises boost immunity. A single session boost’s your vaccine’s effectiveness with compromised immune systems in people. Jogging, walking, swimming, biking, and hiking are great options.
Also see: Best exercises to improve mental health
Staying hydrated is not a way to protect you from germs and viruses. But it prevents you from dehydrating, which is essential to your health. Dehydration may cause headaches and distract your focus, digestion, heart, and kidney function. These complications may increase your susceptibility to illness. Drink enough fluid to prevent dehydration. Have enough fruit juices and sweetened tea because of their high sugar content. It is crucial for older adults that they lose the urge to drink. Because their bodies do not signal thirst adequately. Older adults need to drink regularly to stay hydrated.
Supplements strengthen your body’s general immune response:
Citrus: Vitamin C is the main ingredient in citrus fruits. It helps you reduce the duration of a cold. Vitamin C can increase the production of white blood cells, which fight infections.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick. So supplementing may counteract this effect. Nonetheless, taking vitamin D when you have adequate levels doesn’t provide any benefits.
Zinc: It will reduce the common cold duration for those who take more zinc supplements in their diet. For instant increase of zinc mineral in your body use tablets like Zincovit.
Garlic: A high-quality garlic supplementary diet reduces the common cold by about 30%.
Ginger: It decreases the inflammation levels that can reduce sore throat and illness. Ginger may help with nausea as well. It may also decrease chronic pain and might have cholesterol-lowering properties.
Finally, you may make several lifestyle and dietary changes to boost your immunity. Eating whole-planted and fermented foods with proper supplements boosts your immunity. A good sleep, daily exercise water make you both mentally and physically healthy.