How Does the Immune System Work?
Being healthy is a top priority in our lives right now…and almost everyone’s best friend is their immune system. So, before we get into the immunity myths, lets talk about hoe the immune system actually works. The immune system is a complex system of cells and molecules that protects our bodies from outside invaders like infections, bacteria, and viruses, called antigens. These antigens attach themselves to receptors on immune cells, which then triggers the immune system response. Then, the immune system stores the antigens’ DNA and makeup before creating, distributing, and storing white blood cells that fight these bacteria and viruses.
Innate vs Adaptive Immune System
The immune system is actually made up of two subdivisions: the innate and adaptive immune systems. The innate system is more general. It provides a non-specific defense against germs and outside bacteria that enter through the skin or digestion. The adaptive immune system is more specific. It creates antibodies to fight specific germs and viruses that enter the body. This is the immune system that stores the DNA information of certain antigens to create specific antibodies to fight them off.
Finding the Truths on Immunity Myths
This past year, we’ve been bombarded with quick fixes that claim to boost your immunity to the moon and back. There are a lot of myths going around on how to help boost your immune system. So, let’s take a dive into some of them:
Myth One: Exercise has no effect and may even weaken the immune system.
Truth: Exercise lowers blood pressure, helps keep body weight under control, and can protect you from diseases. It does this by lowering the levels of hormonal cortisol in your body. Therefore, exercising actually boosts your immune system.
Myth Two: The more active your immune system is, the healthy you are.
Truth: A hyperactive immune system is related to many different conditions like allergic reactions and underlying diseases such as diabetes and lupus.
Myth Three: Stress doesn’t impact the immune system
Truth: Stress produces a hormone called cortisol, which changes the way your white blood cells react to the viruses and bacteria that enter the body. Therefore, stress reduces the body’s ability to fight off diseases.
Myth Four: Gargling salt water or vinegar will kill viruses
Truth: Gargling salt water, vinegar, or other mixtures won’t kill anything, but it may soothe a sore throat.
Myth Five: Being born with a good immune system will prevent you from getting sick.
Truth: Besides the fact that the immune system, unfortunately, weakens with age, there is no certainty that you won’t get sick.
What Can You Do?
So, all in all, there are a lot of immunity myths floating around on the internet, but there are ways that never fail to boost your immune system:
- Eat healthily
- Take vitamins and supplements as recommended
- Get proper sleep
- Avoid smoking
- Wash hands consistently
- Exercise regularly
- Take steps to reduce stress
Strong immunity is built through balanced, healthful decisions. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your immune system. Taking care of your immune system takes time. Self-care isn’t just about the skin anymore. The inside of your body needs some love too.