Can We Really Boost Our Immune System?

Don’t tell me you aren’t tempted by the very idea of boosting your immune system! I had you there, right?

Hi there! Welcome back to the blog. All of us literally jump at every possible opportunity of boosting our immune system. But, can we really boost our immune system? Well, let’s know more about that!

So, this is something that must have popped in your mind sometime or the other, and more so during the pandemic – can we really boost our immune system? To make long answer short, well, our immune system is an extremely complex mechanism, that we haven’t understood completely about, at least not yet. And there are tremendous misconceptions regarding this mighty system, and worse yet, most of us easily accept these misconceptions as facts.

It is majorly because not much information is available out there about our immune system. And whatever little is available, we tend to believe that. Well, the information is not entirely incorrect, rather, it is half-knowledge, if I may say so.

To understand our topic for today, we first need to understand how actually does our immune system function and how our body is designed to fight diseases and infections.

How Does Our Immune System Function?

Our immune system is an intricate network of various cells, tissues and organs in our body. Its primary aim is to form a barrier against all the unwelcome pathogens and germs. That is the reason why you see that some people fall sick less often than the others. Their immune system provides an extra-ordinary barrier that makes sure that the unwanted pathogens do not enter the body.

If somehow, one or the other pathogen manages to slip through this barrier, the immune system then springs into action, by performing the second task that it was designed for – to recognise and identify the pathogen, infection, intruder or injury in our body. This results in an immune response, the aim of which is to restore the normal functioning of the body. Our immune system is designed to identify a wide variety of antigens (We are talking about millions, no less!). It tries to identify the pathogen and searches for the antigen that is needed to attack and destroy the intruder before it reproduces or multiplies.

When the immune system fails to do this, a more revved-up immune response is generated to attack the intruder at all costs and destroy it before it causes more damage. This may lead to a destruction of healthy cells along with the affected cells, thus causing more damage than is intentional. We call this as an exaggerated immune response.

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When we get sick, we see certain signs and symptoms, right? Well, many people think that these signs and symptoms mean that we have a virus or an infection in our body. However, our symptoms actually indicate that our body is fighting back against the infection or the virus, initiating an immune response.

When you get flu, with every one of your symptoms, that is your immune system at work!

So now, that clarified, let’s get to our topic –

Can We Really Boost Our Immune System?

Boosting something is making it stronger. Well, if we have a weaker immune system, we certainly need to boost it. There are many ways to do it, some of the important ones are mentioned below. However, if we already have a strong immune system (we will be able to know it ourselves, when we wouldn’t fall sick as often as others), we would then need to maintain or protect this good immune system of ours and not really boost it.

The vitamins and supplements that you take to boost your immune system usually don’t do so directly. They do not directly affect your immune system – for better or for worse. That said, it does not mean that you should stop taking those supplements that your doctor has recommended. Of course not! You should certainly take those, as they are vital to other important functions of your body, which in turn may improve your immune system. However, be very careful when you choose one for yourself and your family.

Also, you can take certain other measures to protect your immune system, and boost it too.

These are mostly some diet and lifestyle measures.

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Exercise at least 5 times a week, for at least 30 minutes a day. While there are many theories around how this affects your immune system, none of them is proven. However, it can be safely said that by way of strengthening your other organs and organ systems, like heart and the circulatory system, bones and muscles and the skeletal system etc., exercising regularly can in turn, make your body stronger, which in its own way is a means of keeping diseases at bay. Exercise also helps in release of anti-stress hormones, which can help you in battling stress, thus giving you a healthy mind as well as body. Exercising in any form that you like is good to give you a healthy immune system, be it walking, running, jogging, aerobics, yoga or anything else that you fancy. And whatever positive changes you see in yourself, stay motivated by those and that can further contribute towards maintaining a healthy immune system.

Meditate daily for a little while. A calm mind is more likely to battle stress better than an agitated one.

Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Remember, a diet is only healthy when it is well-balanced. Too much of good is just as bad. You need all kinds of nutrients like carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals etc. in your diet to make it well-balanced and, in turn, a healthy one. So if you are on that zero-carb diet, maybe its time to reconsider.

Get enough sleep. Your body repairs and heals itself while you slumber. A sleepless night or not sleeping as much as is needed can deprive your body of that healing touch, making it wear out even more, in the end. An excessively tired body is the best venue for all kinds of microbes to host a party!

If you have diabetes, are obese or indulge in smoking, maybe its time to rethink about your lifestyle as well. These things can interfere with your immune system and can severely compromise its functioning.

Takeaway

We may not know enough about our immune system in details. But we surely know enough to understand that we shouldn’t be taking it lightly. We also know that we may not have a lot of control over it, but we can work on the ways that keep us from getting sick.

The pandemic is an ugly reminder that we should not take our bodies lightly and that we should do all that we can to protect it from various diseases. The main way to protect ourselves from infections is to take all necessary precautions like washing hands, wearing masks and maintain social distancing – pandemic or no pandemic! Remember, the Japanese have been doing this since ages and hence, were better able to manage the spread of infection in their country. We however, had to go through a pandemic to learn this, and the sad part is – we haven’t fully learnt our lessen yet!

So can we really boost our immune system? Well, in terms of scientific research, we are not sure, but we can try to, by practicing healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle habits. However, what we can surely do is try to protect it!

How I Ended A Long-standing Battle With My Kids About Their Lunch Boxes!

Hey everyone! Glad to see you all once again. As usual, I have been absconding from the scene for quite some time now. And I know, you all must be so tired of forgiving me. However, I would still like to say I am sorry and try to be as regular as I possibly can. That said, let us get to our topic today, which would tell you how I ended a long-standing battle with my kids about their lunch boxes!

I am sure, if you are reading this, you have endured the pain of seeing your kid’s lunch box coming back home- full and untouched. Dearies, I guess this happens to all of us at some or the other point in life. Trust me, I was there too. It was just sssooo annoying to see that box being brought back to home exactly in the same condition as I sent it to school. More than annoyance was the pain of thinking that my kid was almost on no food the whole day, in spite of her box being full! It kept happening for quite some time, until i felt, that was that, and I decided to do something about it.

I sat my kid down one day and asked her, “Why is it that you don’t finish your lunch box? It’s been so many days that you haven’t even touched the food in your box and you seem to be eating fine at home? Is there a problem?” And her reply was so dramatic! She said, “Mom, I was expecting that you would give me this(some other thing than that was given) in box. I opened the box and when I didn’t see that, I was so disappointed!”

There you go. So, it turned out that I was making a big mistake by not asking my child what she would like in her lunch box and giving her food just because I thought she would like it or she should eat it, what with healthy stuff and all! That night, I sat down with both my kids and asked them what all their favorite foods were. Of course, they didn’t remember all the dishes by their names. However, they could relate to most of them when I described the dishes. They could identify some, like banana balls, pancakes etc.

After our list was done, I sorted it into two categories- snacks and lunch. My girls take two boxes to school- a snack box and a lunch box. I divided the dishes accordingly and then made a meal prep chart according to the dishes. I paired some snacks and lunch recipes and noted them on a piece of paper. I stuck this paper on the fridge. Now here comes the tricky part. It’s obvious that my daughters wouldn’t both want the exact same thing. Naturally, there was a war deciding whose choice it would be. It was becoming difficult to get them to make a settlement. So, I decided, for one whole week one of my girls would have her choice for breakfast and the other one would have it for lunch. The next week, we would just rotate it around. That way, they both get to carry their choices to school.

I have this magnetic board, which I attach to the fridge. It helps me a lot in this task. Every night, I or my elder one write down the meal plan for the next day according to their choices. I add in the dinner menu along with that, make the meal prep accordingly and am good to go for the next day!

Many of you must be thinking that I can make the meal prep and planning for the whole week. Then why take the trouble to do it each day separately? Well, that’s because my girls are very small. And though they may seem okay with the meal plan for the whole week while we are writing it, they may not actually want to eat a particular dish three days later as per the plan and the whole point of doing this exercise would be a waste. It’s better that I ask them each night what they would like to have the next day and plan accordingly.

I know, the options that they have chosen may not be entirely healthy ones always, but I have made sure that they are at least partly healthy. Also, I would rather have them eat something that they like than have them stay hungry throughout the day and get cranky by the time they get back. I have ample chances to feed them the healthy stuff at dinner, on weekends and each morning before they leave for school.

So far, this thing is working like a charm. In fact, they are pretty excited to write their choices on the board each night and I am saved the trouble of thinking each morning what to cook for them! Not to mention, the box comes home empty almost everyday!

Oh, and one more thing. In case their choice is a complete junk, I make sure to add some healthy stuff like cut fruits or salad veggies, to balance it out.

I hope this helps you to get some ideas as to how you can plan your kids’ meal times, especially for school days and you are treated to an empty lunch box when your kids come back home!

I will see you soon with yet another interesting topic. Until then, take care, bbye. Here’s Dr. Apoorva, signing out for today!