It’s no surprise that people are more prone to sickness during the colder months. During the winter, our immune systems are tasked more and working overtime to prevent us from coming down with a cold or other illnesses.
Some may think getting sick is inevitable, but that’s not the case. Before the weather turns and temperatures drop, there are solutions for an immune system boost so our bodies are more capable of fighting off the germs, viruses, and bacterias that are more prominent during the cold season.
Everyone—whether or not you have any medical histories or health conditions—could benefit from an immune system boost. An extra boost for the immune system not only helps an individual live well but also helps the community’s health. This is because the immune system is a large component of health and wellness.
A common misconception is that we must focus on killing off viruses to prevent sickness, but the actual answer is we should be focusing on the immune system functionality and how to boost our response to viruses.
What Is The Immune System?
Before we get into how to improve our immunity, it’s important to know exactly how our immune system works. The immune system can get rather complicated as the health community is still discovering new things, but knowing the inter-relationship of the systems within our bodies goes a long way during our journey of getting well, being well, and living well.
You may be asking where the immune system is within the body, but the answer is everywhere. There is not just one part where the immune system is because it flows throughout the entire body. The microbiome (all the microorganisms that live within our bodies) influences the immune system. Essentially, our microorganisms make up 70%–80% of our immune system.
The immune system is our body’s fight response to harmful entities that enter our body, like viruses and bacterial infections. The immune system’s job is to recognize when we have been exposed and send the appropriate cells into battle. What we feel when we are sick is actually our immune system and cells working to remove the virus, bacteria, etc.
For example, a common sign that you’re sick is a fever. However, this symptom is not caused directly by the virus but is actually how your immune system removes the virus. It’s a war tactic, per se, as the immune system sends signals throughout our body to increase our internal temperature in order to allow an increased production and activation of immune cells and allows for faster movement of those cells to areas needed to defeat the infection.. The symptoms we experience while sick are showing how our body is working overtime to flush out and clean us from the inside.
How Does The Immune System Work?
The immune system is composed of three primary components: innate, learned, and memory. These three areas of the immune system help our bodies evolve to fight off more illnesses as we get exposed to them.
1. Innate Immune System
The innate immune system is the cellular response to viruses, bacterias, germs, and toxins. This is the component of the immune system that we are born with as these cells were transferred to us from our mothers.
During birth and nursing, antibodies of the mother are given to the baby. This means the first immune system boost we received was from Mom as a baby. It’s never too early to start building up the immune system.
2. Learned Immune Response
The learned immune response is the antibody response of the immune system. This component begins early in life as our body confronts bacteria, toxins, and viruses. The learned immune response develops as the secondary system as we get exposed to illnesses.
How the learned immune response works is that if the body identifies anything overwhelming, T-helper cells are recruited to help fight. A misconception is that the antibodies’ job is to battle, but that’s actually not the case. The antibodies identify and tag antigens.
Antibodies help the fight go more efficiently as they are able to identify where a harmful entity enters the body and where within the body they are lingering. Without antibodies, the fighting cells would either fight in the wrong place or not fight at all. For this reason, when building up the immune system, the antibody response is an important factor to focus on.
3. Memory Cells
The third component of the immune system is the memory cells. Their duty is pretty straightforward and their job is in their name. The purpose of memory cells is to remember battles our body has encountered in the past so future fights are easier.
Memory cells have a life-long memory, which means once an immune system fight occurs your body will remember it for the rest of your life. While antibodies make the fighting system more efficient, memory cells give our immune system the upper hand.
This is where the theory of vaccines comes into play. Vaccines work by artificially stimulating the memory immune response to sensify the memory cells to the virus. In turn, the immune system is activated faster when we are exposed to the virus.
What Impairs The Immune System?
There are four factors we encounter daily that impact the functionality of our immune system: sleep, food, hydration, and the environment. What we do every day and the life habits we have are the greatest factors to what impairs our immune system.
The Big 3 (sleep, food, and hydration) are the defining factor of our health and wellness. Essentially, if you don’t take care of your body, give it the rest and fuel it needs, then your body won’t be able to take care of you.
A good night’s sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy life. While you’re young, you may think you can afford a few nights of bad sleep but the repercussions of that mentality will quickly catch up to you.
Your body cannot gain strength without the rest it needs. Our bodies are like machines; we run all day but by the end of the night we need a reboot or else we cannot run the following day. This reboot is achieved by letting our body and brain rest through sleep.
If you’re thinking you can get by with a minimal amount of sleep, you would be mistaken. Everyone needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep. There is a sweet spot to how long you are sleeping because too much or not enough could be detrimental to your health. Yes, oversleeping is just as bad as not getting enough sleep.
What you choose to eat can greatly impact your body’s health. This is because there is no such thing as a neutral food; everything you eat can build up or take away your health.
The fuel you place within your body may not make a difference immediately, but over time what you eat will affect your immune system. The effects of your food will not be noticeable right away, but you will experience the consequences or awards eventually. For example, if your diet consists of non-nutritious foods your immune system will eventually weaken.
In addition, your diet can increase the aging of your body. Eating the wrong foods and fats initiates the inflammatory response too early. This means your body is overworked and run down when it doesn’t need to be.
When it comes to our immune system, our environment can greatly impact us from what we touch to what we breathe. In the winter, it’s harder to prevent the spreading of germs, viruses, and bacterias so what gets us sick is more prominent.
Certain illnesses are more common during certain seasons, but it is not because of the weather. Our environment and how it changes during the seasons is why we are more likely to get sick, from sun exposure to air quality.
We naturally take in Vitamin D through the sunlight, which means our bodies suffer when we have limited sun exposure. Not only does Vitamin D help our bone strength, but it can also help us fight off diseases. Without sunlight, our bodies suffer by not having an intake of nutrients. Sunlight makes us stronger, but during the winter it’s harder to give our bodies the sunlight it needs.
Due to the earth’s orbit around the sun, we have shorter days with fewer amounts of sunlight during the winter. With smaller days, natural sunlight is harder to come by. On top of that, the low temperatures cause us to spend most of our time indoors. Even if we could get sun exposure outside, we are less likely to because we choose to remain indoors to avoid the brutal chill of winter. Overall, our sun exposure is limited during the winter so it’s harder to get the nutrients from the sun.
The winter season can make us ill simply because of the air. Winter air is dryer, which means what can get us sick lingers in the air longer. A little sneeze or cough will stay in the air, just waiting to expose us because dry air contains less water.
When you’re sick, you may have had someone suggest a humidifier. This is because water molecules help to break down viruses and bacterias. During the warmer seasons, these water molecules are in the air naturally but in the winter the molecules that help us not get sick are sucked out of the air through the dry climate, furnaces, and heaters we surround ourselves with.
But how do we stop the winter environment from getting us sick? Taking simple measures such as washing your hands and covering your nose can help stop viruses and bacterias from entering your system. However, viruses and bacterias can be rather sneaky and it’s not always possible to avoid exposure. For this reason, preparing our immune system and building up resilience is important to ensure we stay healthy during the winter.
Helping The Immune System
When it comes to encountering illnesses, it’s best to build up the immune system so our body is the best prepared for when we get sick. Rather than focusing on the virus itself, we should be focusing on optimizing our body’s response to the virus.
How we help the immune system build up so it can protect us best is by boosting its resilience. You may have heard needing a “strong” immune system, but the keyword is actually “resilient.” Instead of strengthening your immune system, you want to increase your immune system resilience with an immune boost.
Strengthening VS. Boosting
You may be wondering if there is a difference between strengthening and boosting your immune system. The defining factor between the two is how the immune system reacts to viruses, toxins, etc.
An immune system boost makes our body more resilient to illnesses as our capacity to recover is heightened. However, immune system strength can create more havoc within the body. A strong immune system can still end up attacking you through autoimmune responses.
A resilient immune system is the better immune boost because it clearly knows its role, is controlled by the systems interacting with each other, and defends us against whatever ills we become exposed to. A resilient immunity avoids any communication implications within the body, whereas a strong one lacks this ability to have conversations with other parts of the body. This is because strength focuses on power during a flight and not intelligence before the battle.
Solutions To Enhance Resilience Of The Immune System
There are actually more natural immunity boosters out there than you might realize, from the way we sleep to how we handle stress. You may have noticed that when you overwork your body you get physically sick. This is because when our bodies are run down and overly tired, our immune system weakens too.
When our body is tired our immune system reflects that by being too tired to work properly. Without proper health, we become vulnerable as our body struggles to obtain the energy it needs to do its job. This is why the Big 3 (sleep, food, hydration) are increasingly important for obtaining our health and wellness and building up the immune system.
Natural immune boosters come down to our lifestyle choices and healthy habits. Some of the ways we can positively affect our immune system are:
- A Healthy Diet
- Staying Hydrated
- Sleeping Well
- Neutralizing Stress
- Avoiding Environmental Toxins (certain household cleaners, skin products, etc.)
- Trusting Your Gut
- Chiropractic Care
Integrated Wellness’s Immunity Kit Guide goes more deeply into natural immunity boosters from meal charts to supplement recommendations.
Did you know that the foods of the season help our bodies prepare for the winter? Fall, otherwise known as the harvest season, is full of plant-based foods that interact with our immune response and help to create more resilience for our immune system.
In the words of Dr. Chris Frogley, “Eat lots of squashes, lots of pumpkins, lots of apples, lots of pears.”
What we eat affects our bodies greatly because of the nutrients we ingest. You may have heard the term “nutritious diet” plenty of times when referring to healthy lifestyles, but that’s because our bodies need nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to retain their strength. Certain foods we eat give our bodies healthy fuel so we are able to function the way we are supposed to.
Supplements are another option for when our bodies are lacking. For example, Vitamin D supplements help keep our body strong when we don’t get the amount of sunlight we need. Vitamin D is a commonly recommended supplement not only because of sun deficiencies, but because Vitamin D interacts with T-helper cells to keep the system more resilient.
However, supplements are not a substitute for healthy habits. Supplements boost our healthy lifestyles but they do not act as a replacement for living healthy. Frogley said it best when he explained, “You can supplement a good diet and make it better but you can never supplement a bad diet to make it okay.”
Supplements work best when paired with a healthy diet because supplements are reinforcements. When going into battle, if you don’t have the tools to succeed you will never win the war. Healthy habits are the foundation of building up our immune system, and supplements boost our habits to make a stronger impact on our health and wellness.
It’s important to be cautious when taking supplements because some will not have the result you are intending for. If you take a supplement and experience results immediately, it’s actually not a good sign. A good supplement will work slowly to increase your immune system resilience.
The reason you don’t want immediate results when taking a supplement is because it only weakens the immune system in the long run. Just like the difference between a boost and strengthening, immediate supplements become stimulatory. We want to build the immune system, not just stimulate it.
Herbs are also a natural builder of health. Any herb is better than no herbs, but some work better than others.
If the immune system has been significantly weakened (like through a disease) or you are in need of a fast-acting solution for boosting the immune system then IV therapy is a viable option.
IV therapy enters the system directly through the bloodstream so the solution is available to every cell in the body. This results in a better functioning immune response as cells are given energy and oxygen is given to the tissues.
Unlike supplements, IV therapy has positive results for acting immediately. This is because if something is taken orally and has an immediate effect on energy, there is an indication of possible stimulation. IVs, on the other hand, bypass the gut and immediately enter into the cells. This simply has a more direct effect on providing vitamins and minerals to the cells.
IV therapy is fast-acting in the sense that the immune system booster is quickly given to the cells. However, most people do not feel instantly better after an IV. The immune system improvements are made faster than supplements, but feeling the improvements will take some time. If a person does feel results immediately after an IV there is an indication of a severe deficiency.
Additionally, Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation (UBI) is one (if not the best) option for boosting the immune system. With UBIs, the body’s ability to overcome illnesses is increased by the immune system being energized.
Surprisingly, your socialization habits can have an impact on your immune system. How we feel mentally affects how we feel physically as our bodies mirror our emotions. Because of this, when we are depressed our immune system is depressed as well.
The solution for this is rather simple. Finding joy—even with only 10 minutes of laughter—can help our immune systems improve as our body is no longer reflecting our negative emotions.
One of the best ways to prepare for the winter season is to boost our immune system, increasing its resilience. In addition to having healthy lifestyle choices and habits, supplements and IV therapy can help to boost the immune system.
When it comes to fighting off illnesses, the best approach is to prepare our bodies before we get sick. At Integrated Wellness Bountiful, we strive to aid our community in getting well, being well, and living well. From our IV cocktail lounge to other holistic modalities, our clinic provides solutions for boosting the immune system.