When I taught Pathophysiology to nursing students in 2012, the immune system is something I spent a lot of time on. I explained that your immune system has a few different lines of defense, similar to a combat field. Our first line of defense is the skin and mucous membranes lining the respiratory, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts. Your more specific immune cells live in various places in the body, i.e. the lungs, spleen and intestines to name a few. It is best to care for the entire body in order to affect immunity since those immune cells are just about EVERYWHERE!
Here are 9 Ways You Can Ensure Your Immune System is ready to fight the fight of an invasion:
- Keep your skin clean: I know this one sounds too simple but cleaning your hands is the best way to prevent a pathogen from entering through your nose, eyes or mouth. That being said, never ever put your fingers in your nose, mouth or eyes while you are out. *It is a great idea to scrub your skin with a gentle loofah in the shower in order to keep the skin supple and ready to help against a pathogen, removing dead skin.
- Drink a lot of water: Hot and room temperature water will do. This will serve to flush any lingering bacteria from the mouth down into the stomach, where your stomach acids can kill the pathogen. Also, staying hydrated helps your immune cells function optimally, preventing oxidative stress to the cell.
- Keep moving: Exercise and movement have been proven as an immune system booster. When you move your blood is flowing which allows your lymphatic system to filter pathogens through at a faster rate than if you were sedentary. Less stagnation in the system = a cleaner system that is removing toxins and debris, daily.
- Sweat Every Day: The skin is our body’s first line of defense against a pathogen. The sweat glands in the skin secrete antibacterial and antifungal fatty acids and lactic acids. Your sweat, tears and saliva contain an enzyme that attacks the cell walls of a pathogen.
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours/ night: A proinflammatory state occurs with sleep deprivation that increases your risk of chronic disease through the breakdown of the body’s ability to naturally heal from daily attacks to the immune system. Sleeping a minimum of 7 hours allows for your cells to recover and repair, preventing oxidative stress and keeping you strong and ready to fight any cellular invasion that should come your way! (Exercise helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and improves quality of sleep)
- Manage Stress: A negative tension-filled mind does not support well-being. Internal tension results in stress. The tension causes toxicity and eventual disease. The body reacts to stress by secreting hormones that disturb the detoxification mechanism. Anger actually disrupts the liver’s ability to function (the liver is another important detoxification organ). Breathwork and meditation are an effective way to calm the mind. It affects the voluntary control centers in the brain that issue stress and alarm signals to the rest of the body.
- Good Nutrition: Probably THE most important on this list, next to good sleep. You must try and keep your diet clean, with minimally processed foods, filled with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Examples include organic berries, spinach, eggs, fish, walnuts, ginger, garlic, and brown rice. Processed foods will cause cellular inflammation in the body. The best way to explain why this is not a good thing is that if your immune system is constantly fighting the inflammation that you are causing it with what you are eating, it has little energy/capacity left over to fight a possible viral infection. This puts you at a major disadvantage should you be in contact with Covid-19. Avoiding sugar is also a good way to keep inflammation low.
- Take a good quality multivitamin and probiotic: The real truth is that a lot of people have trouble staying on a good whole food diet. Taking a multivitamin will ensure that you get the important vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay in balance. A probiotic will ensure your gut flora is optimized. Much of your immune cells live in the gut, therefore maintaining balance here will ensure good immune function.
- Get outside: The fresh air and vitamin D you get from being outdoors can truly save your life. The primary source of Vitamin D for most people is solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) light. Vitamin D reduces the risk of infectious disease by reducing inflammation and regulating the expression of cytokines.
So there is my best advice on the 9 ways you can keep your immune system in tip-top shape, keeping the odds of the virus actually causing an invasion and winning very low! If you have questions or would like to discuss how you can optimize your health through exercise, give us a call at 631-533-288. If you have pain which inhibits your ability to stay active, healthy and mobile, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our physical therapists at Universus Physical Therapy! This is our speciality and passion!!
Disclaimer: This information is meant for general use and not intended to replace what your physician has advised you to do.