The immune system is our body’s way of protecting itself from diseases and infections. A healthy immune system can help our body fight bacteria and maintain our health.
So what exactly is the immune system?
It’s a system that works via different cells throughout the body. It knows the difference between our own cells and potentially harmful invaders, or antigens. It also clears away dead and damaged cells. If it recognises a virus, bacterium, fungus, toxin, foreign body or parasite, it causes an immune response to attack it.
How good is my immune system?
That depends on several factors, including your age. You’re born with a certain amount of immunity and babies get some from their mother and from breast milk. You then develop more resistance as you go through childhood. It may come from having vaccinations or being gradually exposed to more pathogens which causes your body to develop antibodies. In most cases, once your body has produced an antibody, it remains in the body so it can deal with a second attack faster. So, with many diseases, including chickenpox, you’ll only get it once. However, as you get older, your immune system may get less efficient, meaning you’re more prone to infection and disease.
How can I improve my immune system?
Along with quitting smoking, taking regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight, getting a good night’s sleep and reducing stress can all help.
Foods that boost your immune system
We’ve all heard the old saying that ‘you are what you eat’. As well as eating for health, there are some foods that actually boost the immune system. They include: