what is immunity?

Facts: We’ve heard a lot about immunity lately…. We know it’s important. We know we want it. And thanks to google, we know everyone is searching for how to strengthen it. Here we’ll break down what it is, and yes, how to support yours.  

The classic definition of being “immune” or “immunity”, is to not be susceptible or responsive to something; it has no effect. 

Of course, when we think of immunity, we tend to think of immunity to harm, mostly as diseases or other health risks (thank you 2020!) 

You can also be immune to things like negative attitudes, unconstructive criticism, bad vibes… all sorts of things! 

We humans are incredible feats of natural engineering! We all have immune systems that exist to protect our bodies from harm; namely diseases and infections. Our immune system includes our skin, our gut (which contains about 70-80% of our immune system’s cells) and our lymphatic system which carries water, nutrients and oxygen around our bodies to our cells and removes waste away from our bodies.

If viruses and bacteria manage to enter our bodies, specialized cells (white blood cells and certain proteins) from our immune systems will jump into action to fight and destroy them. 

When strong and working well, we can think of our immune systems as our internal superheroes, defending us from harm and enabling us to go about daily life as we come into contact with germs and bugs from our community and our environments. Take care of it and it will take care of you! 

So, how do we support and maintain our immune systems? 

Gut Health: Since the majority of our immune system’s cells are found in the gut, it’s crucial that we support it with good nutrition, healthy eating habits, hydration and rest. 

The gut’s microbiome plays a key role in immune function so eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and prebiotic fiber fuels the microbiome and appears to support the growth and support of beneficial microbes. Foods high in prebiotic fiber include bananas, artichokes, onions and garlic. 

It’s also believed that diets that disturb a healthy digestive system (like the western diet, high in sugar and red meat and low in fruits and vegetables) causes chronic gut inflammation and associated lowered immunity. (LINK TO SUGAR BLOG) 

Good Nutrition: Eating lots of whole, nutritious foods as part of a varied diet helps support the health of all of our cells, including our immune cells.  

Nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include vitamin C and zinc.  (LINK TO THOSE BLOGS)

Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential to supporting our overall health, including our immune system.  

Researchers have found that during sleep, certain components of the immune system rev up which may aid in recovery if you’re sick or injured.

Research also suggests that sleep strengthens “immune memory” which reinforces the immune system’s ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous viruses or bacteria.

Hydration: When we are well hydrated, our bodies can properly transport critical nutrients around our bodies to support the various systems that keep us running right. 

Hydration is also important for our lymphatic system to be able to accel in its job to detoxify us.

Mental Wellness & Stress Management: Simply put, your state of mind can affect your state of health.

When stressed for any amount of time, all aspects of immunity have been shown to suffer as the stress hormone corticosteroid (or cortisone) can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system. 

Exercise: Because exercise increases blood and lymph flow as you move more, it ups the circulation of immune cells, moving them around your body at a higher rate. 

A brisk 45-minute walk was found to show this increase of immune cells circulating in the body for up to three hours after the walk. 

Moderate exercise also decreases inflammation in the body—which, in turn, can also improve immunity. Research has found that as little as 20 minutes of walking is enough to get this benefit.

Exercise has also been found to lower stress and the endorphins released during a sweat sesh  positively affect your mental state, all supporting your immune system.

So, it seems the keys to a healthy immune system are similar to the keys to overall health: eat a healthy diet filled with lots of nutrients, stay well-hydrated, avoid added sugars, exercise and rest!  

Lucky for you, mymuse checks many of those boxes! Our drinks are hydrating, contain nutrients like vitamin C and zinc,  and are low sugar, for gut health! Cheers!



SOURCES: 

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Medical News Today

Cleveland Clinic

Harvard School of Public Health

The Sleep Foundation

Susan. Samueli Integrative Health institute

health.com

American Psychological Association

Simply Psychology

Brain, Behavior & Immunity