Our immune systems play a crucial role in protecting us against illness and keeping us healthy. It’s no wonder then that so many people are looking for ways to improve their immune system function. Though the idea of boosting your immune system is enticing – it is as complicated and elusive as the immune system itself. There is a lot of research currently being conducted to better understand what affects our immune system and how. The Medical Station weighs in and discusses some of the popular immune boosting techniques we hear about in the media.
What is the Immune System?The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that plays a crucial role in protecting us against infection and disease. Upon identifying unhealthy cells or exogenous substances the immune system uses both innate and adaptive mechanisms to eliminate these harmful materials. A series of molecular cues are set off, activating the immune response, which then destroys or neutralizes the harmful substance.
Investigating Immune Boosting TipsHarvard Health published a comprehensive overview of existing research on various immune boosting tips. Here are some of their key findings:
- While there is no scientifically proven direct link between lifestyle and enhanced immune function, it is likely that a healthy lifestyle would support immune function. Every organ system benefits when we are healthier – this means exercising regularly, not smoking, eating fruits & veggies, controlling your blood pressure, and consuming alcohol in moderation.
- Though it is difficult (for both practical & ethical reasons) to conduct experiments related to stress and immune function, animal studies have identified the link between chronic stress and immune suppression. These studies are believed to have implications for humans.
- Micronutrient deficiencies have been found to negatively affect the immune response of animals, researchers are still unsure of how these results may translate to humans.
- Be skeptical of products, such as pills or supplements, which claim to boost or support your immunity. The immune system is complex and many of these substances have not necessarily or rigorously been proven to be effective.