Protecting Your Body From Pathogens: How to Boost Your Immune System
As interesting and intricate as the human immune system is, it can also seem scary because of all the risks your body is susceptible to daily. After all, it’s working around the clock to keep you alive and any chink in its armor is hazardous to your health. With that said, you can help your body avoid facing harmful pathogens or help it fight them when they attack. Here are eight ways to do so:
Practice Good Hygiene
Image via Flickr peapod labs
The first line of defense in keeping harmful pathogens from causing you problems in the future is to keep them at bay. You need to stop infection before it starts and avoid spreading it to others. Although it may seem like common sense, many people don’t follow these simple steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, or cough into your elbow instead of your hand.
- Wash and bandage all cuts, and get any serious cuts or bites examined by a doctor.
- Don’t pick at healing wounds (scabs), blemishes, or pimples.
Stay Current With Vaccinations
Image via Flickr NHSE
As research progresses and researchers create new drugs and vaccinations, people are able to fight off common ailments and live longer. Many vaccinations prevent serious infections from naturally occurring. Although some vaccinations have common side effects, they’re generally safe an effective. Consult your health care provider to check your immunization status. In general:
- Children should receive all recommended childhood vaccinations.
- Adults should make they stay current with their vaccinations.
- Travelers should receive any additional immunizations needed.
Practice Food Safety
Image via Flickr Czarina Alegre
Eating food is essential to a human’s survival, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with risks and dangers. Most cases of food poisoning aren’t life-threatening, but some can lead to serious medical conditions including meningitis and kidney failure. The following precautions will help kill harmful pathogens present in your food when you buy it and help you avoid introducing new ones into your food at home:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after every time you touch raw food.
- Rinse all meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and vegetables before cooking and serving.
- Separate raw foods and cooked foods and never use the same utensils or cutting boards for both.
- Cook foods thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to make sure you cook beef to 160° F and poultry to 180° F, and that you cook fish until it’s opaque.
- Defrost foods only in the microwave or in the refrigerator.
Drink Clean Water
Image via Flickr stevendepolo
Like eating food, drinking water is also essential to a human’s survival. Being that water makes up 60 percent of the human body, it’s important that you make sure the water you put in your body isn’t contaminated. This is especially important if you’re traveling, because some countries don’t follow strict standards of water safety. Keep these precautions in mind, when traveling:
- Don’t consume ice while traveling. Freezing doesn’t kill all harmful pathogens.
- Only drink refreshments with secure caps, like a can of soda or a bottled water.
- Boil all tap water before using it to brush your teeth.
- Don’t eat uncooked vegetables or fresh, uncooked fruit.
- Don’t consumer dairy products.
- Avoid drinking untreated water from lakes or streams.
Include Antioxidants in Your Diet
Image via Flickr epSos.de
Speaking of food and water, a diet with a healthy serving of vitamins and nutrients will help your body fight off infection. The human body produces free radicals (molecules that can damage cells), and antioxidants help neutralize free radicals from causing any damage. When the balance between the two is upset, the risk for developing diseases increases.
Top antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. To include more antioxidants in your diet try eating more brightly colored fruits and vegetables like berries, citrus, apples, kiwi, red grapes, kale, spinach, onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Garlic and old-fashioned chicken soup also work well.
Take a Daily Vitamin
Image via Flickr colindunn
If you don’t have the money to stock up on a bunch of fruit and vegetables, then perhaps investing in a daily vitamin is the way to go. Vitamins aren’t just made for adults; there’s ones for kids to help them avoid getting a common sicknesses in school. In addition to a regular multivitamin, consider taking a supplement rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and calcium.
Learn Relaxation Techniques
Image via Flickr Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Chronic stress overpowers the immune system, causing it to weaken its defenses. Relaxing not only reduces your stress, but it also helps you sleep better and lowers cortisol levels, both of which contribute to a stronger immune system. Try yoga, stretching, or deep breathing exercises to help your mind and body relax.
Laugh Out Loud
Image via Flickr Rob Boudon
Like relaxing, comedy is great for your mind and body. Laughing increases the white blood cells that fight infection in your body while decreasing the levels of stress hormones. Endorphins and growth hormones benefit the immune system, so watch funny movies, go to comedy shows, and share laughs with your family and friends as often as possible.
There’s an endless amount of things you can do to help your body avoid facing harmful pathogens or help it fight them when they attack. Include them in your daily routine to live a longer and happier life.