What affects immune system and preventative measures

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Immunity is an essential component of our body. It’s a defense mechanism against the harmful invading microbes that attack and cause infections and diseases, therefore it is extremely essential to keep our immune systems healthy in order to keep diseases away. Immunity is a jumble and balance of various factors some of which I’ll be addressing in this article. Any of these factors if neglected or maltreated can lead to weak immune system causing serious susceptibility to infections. Let’s keep a look onto those factors that can influence and affect immunity,

1. Ageing

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As you age the immunity tends to deteriorate and becomes less efficient making body more susceptible to infections. Age related changes in the body can possibly lead to prevalence of autoimmune and chronic diseases, cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus etc.,

Age is a major risk factor in low immune performance, process of ageing is consists of functional and structural alterations in the immune system that disrupts the mechanism of the immune response, Adaptive response tend to be severely affected than the innate one.

Research suggests that aging diminishes the ability of the immune system to distinguish between the invading organisms, body tissues and immune cells.Another study shows that there is a declined production of T-cells and immune cell malfunction in elderly.

Preventative measures:

  • Age gracefully.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Adequate sleep.
  • Balanced diet.
  • Walking/exercise.

2. Body weight

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Body weight and immunity has a reciprocal relationship. Higher body weight is more likely to cause serious illnesses (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis) in the long run and obese individuals are also more vulnerable to secondary infections and complications(sepsis, pneumonia, bacterimia viral infections etc.,) .

WAT (white adipose tissue) is a tissue found surplus in obese individuals which prevents the immune system to fight off invading microbes efficiently than individual with moderate body weight. Accumulation of fat gives rise to the tissue and cellular stress constantly dysfunctioning immune system. Early studies suggest that the obesity impairs the immunity and can also become a contributing factor in

  • Lowered cytokine release.
  • Altered monocyte and lymphocytic function.
  • T-cell dysfunction.
  • Shorter response to antigen stimulation.

Preventative measures:

  • Cut down on sugar.
  • Cut down on bad fats/saturated fats.
  • Work out to burn calories.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Do not over eat instead have short meals.

Nutrition

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Balanced diet plays an important role in maintaining and strengthening immune system. While most of our foods are rich in carbohydrates it is also vital to consume adequate amounts of proteins, minerals, vitamins, unsaturated fats, amino acids and phytonutrients.

Under nutrition is a major cause of weak immune system, Reaching daily nutritional requirement increases the production of RBC`s, WBC`s, blood plasma, antibodies and release of cytokines which are vital for the functioning of immune system.

There are certain elements like zinc, iron, selenium, copper, folic acid, vitamins (B6, C, and E) which accelerate the production of blood cells, immune cells and contribute in proper immune function.

Poor diet can possibly lead to deficiency of some of these elements eventually causing impaired immune system. Therefore it is highly essential to feed your body a proper nutrition. It is equally important to cut down on harmful junk food and processed foods that lack nutrition.

The elements above have their specific functions in immune system which regulate immune function.

Zinc & copper: Heals wounds, response of antibodies.

Iron: proliferation of T-cells.

Selenium: lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation.

Folic acid/Folate: production of RBC`s.

Vitamin B6: production of antibodies, T-cells function.

Vitamin C: anti oxidant, protects cells, production of WBC`s.

Vitamin E: antioxidant, modulate immune function.

Preventative measures:

  • Cut down on sugar.
  • Cut down on beverages and carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid maida, refined foods, processed foods and too much salt.
  • include immune boosting super foods in your diet.

Physical activity

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Staying physically active and regular workouts for just about 20-25 minutes a day can keep the lymphatic circulation rushing and regulate immune system. However too much exercise can depress the immune system, moderate physical activity stimulates immune cells and it has been proved to induce significant physiological changes in the immune system.

Many evidences suggest that athletes and sportsmen are at a higher risk of infections during the times of heavy training, sedentary and over trained individuals are tend to be highly susceptible to infections than moderate trained.

Another study suggests that having an adequate nutrition along with a moderate physical activity can possibly reduce the chances of infections and also improve cardiovascular health.

Preventative measures:

  • Avoid heavy training.
  • Avoid sedentary habits.
  • Work out atleast 20-25 minutes a day.

Sleep

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The immune system is meant to repair, restore and regulate while asleep, not having a proper sleep delays the process and in the long run may even be the cause of weak immune system. Sleep deprivation and bad sleep patterns such as sleeping late night, shorter sleep durations can weaken immunity and also increase susceptibility to infections.

Cytokine is a key component in regulating sleep and also regulating immune system. A study shows that constant lack of sleep can decline the cytokine release, increase adrenalin rush and leave physiological functions altered. Systemic circulation of leucocyte also decreases, adrenalin rush can elevate stress levels and keep us alert making it harder to sleep.

A quality sleep of 7-8 hours has a potential to enhance the efficiency of immune system and eases the immune response.

Preventative measures:

  • Avoid sleeping late night.
  • Avoid using gadgets night time.
  • Have 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Afternoon naps are energizing
  • Be an early riser.

Stress

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Stress can be psychological or physical and can also be chemical or drug induced stress although it is not very common. Acute stress can keep us alert to avoid danger where as chronic stress could adversely affect the immune system.

Chronic stress, be it psychological or physical, causes the immune dysfunction. A body in stress induces “fight or flight” response in order to protect itself and adrenalin gland releases cortisol. In an optimum amount cortisol could be beneficial where as in the long term frequent releases, disrupts immune system and can cause serious illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, elevated blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal ailments.

A study reveals chronic stress can induce prolonged responses that lead to eventual dysfunction of immune system and decrease in the production of antibodies.

Preventative measures:

  • Evaluate your stress levels.
  • Attain spiritual peace.
  • Exercise relaxation techniques.
  • Consult a psychotherapist if needed.

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