Viral season is here … simple ways to boost your immune system

In order for our immune system to work effectively, fighting infection, viruses and even cancers we need to treat it properly. There are many factors that influence our immune system's ability to work effectively. Vaccines build immunity against specific diseases, such as Influenza, COVID and pneumococcal pneumonia.

However, there are other ways in which we can help our bodies fight off infections and viruses.

First, what is our immune system? Our immune system is constantly at work fighting off invaders. Our immune system is made up of a complex network of cells, organs proteins and antibodies, known as immunoglobulins. Our immune systems are fast at work saving our lives on a daily basis by not only fighting off invaders such as viruses, bacteria and parasites that don’t belong but, also by ridding the body of dead or faulty cells.

Eating well, food is our best and most common source of vitamins and minerals, it is important to each a wide variety of fruits vegetables, lean proteins, and grains.

Each containing different nutrients necessary for proper immune function. It is also important some vitamins and minerals in too large a quantity can be harmful and discussion regarding supplements should occur with your health care professional.

Exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety, helps us sleep better and helps us better maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight effects our body's function and BMIs over 30 have been linked to impaired immune function and may in fact decrease vaccine effectiveness. Increasing body temperature during exercise helps to kill bacteria, may help to flush bacteria out of the airways and reduces stress hormone which suppresses the immune system.

Sleep deprivation can lead to a wide variety of disorders and has been linked to decreased immune function. Sleep and sleep quality should not be viewed as a luxury but as a necessity/priority in increasing immune response and fighting disease in general.

Smoking and alcohol use decrease the body's ability to fight disease and in fact has been linked to several immune system issues such as rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking weakens the lungs making them more susceptible to disease.

Lastly, one may think antibiotics work with the immune system, they can in fact weaken the immune system. Antibiotics do not directly interact with


immune cells but, unnecessary antibiotic use stops your immune system from being stressed causing it to slow down regulation and gets weaker. Therefore, they should only be used when deemed necessary by your healthcare provider.

Catherine Hoch APNc