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Understanding the importance of the immune system

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Our immune systems need our support. 

Our immune system is designed to be our first line of defense for fighting off what can make us sick. It’s a protector, a supporter, and a balancer. What more could we ask of it?

However, when our immune systems become compromised due to a variety of lifestyle and environmental factors, it can wreak havoc on our health and our overall lives.

Let’s take a look at what our immune system does for us, how it gets compromised, and what we can do to keep it in shape.

What the immune system does

A robust and strong immune system is intended to protect us from illness and disease including but not limited to:

  • bacterial infections
  • viruses
  • toxins
  • parasites
  • chronic inflammation
  • cancer

It also supports the body in its recovery from any sickness or injury. 

The immune system is complex, taking coordinated action to provide protection from and resilience to a wide array of outside entities, many of which we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Our immune systems also help keep our body balanced in the face of things like inflammation. 

When we need to fight an infection or virus, our immune systems create inflammation to bring attention to the healing process. However, when inflammation becomes chronic (from stress, poor diet, etc.), it knows to work on reducing the continuous inflammation. It’s an intelligent and adaptive part of our bodies, knowing exactly what to do and when.

How it can become compromised

Stress is a significant factor when it comes to the strength of our immunity, and while stress in small amounts is normal and to be expected, too much of it can be detrimental.

Our nervous system assists us in responding to stress through our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Our sympathetic system puts us on high alert and keeps us fighting through the stress. On the opposite side is the parasympathetic system, responsible for calming us through rest and repair. 

When we live in a chronic state of stress, our sympathetic system doesn’t get a break, which can lead to a suppressed immune system.

In addition to how we react to stress, other factors can play a role. These include:

  • poor diet, lack of nutrition
  • large amounts of sugar
  • smoking
  • lack of exercise
  • emotional trauma or grief
  • anxiety and depression
  • environmental chemicals and toxins such as molds, pesticides, and heavy metals
  • medications
  • radiation from machines and planes

When our immune system is out of balance, or focused on one thing too long, it can lead to serious issues such as:

  • allergies
  • chronic inflammation
  • autoimmune disease
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • an overall low quality of life
  • an increase in regular illnesses

How to keep it healthy

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to have a healthy immune system. Supporting it keeps it in balance, ready to fight whatever comes your way.

The more we understand the health implications of our daily choices, the more in control we can feel about our ability to protect ourselves.

While it’s not good to be ill all the time, putting your immune system to work every once in a while, can be beneficial.

Getting ill every now and then doesn’t mean you are weak; it gives your immune system the opportunity to stay robust. Keep in mind that sickness should always be monitored by a doctor, and they should generally run their course within one to seven days.

This sophisticated system in our bodies is one to be celebrated. It does more than just help us get over the common cold. The immune system is a flexible, dynamic, responsive, and intelligent system that balances our personal responses to all our daily exposures. From foods to environmental exposures, from infections to injury, the immune system handles it all. That’s worth a little support, don’t you think?