Our immune systems are complex and consist of organs (such as the bone marrow and thymus), cells (such as lymphocytes) and chemicals (such as systemic mediators of inflammation) that fight off invading pathogens while protecting our own cells. There are certain medical conditions that lower the quality of our immune systems as well as medications (such as chronic steroid usage) that also negatively impact our immune systems.
The importance of having a “strong” immune system cannot be overstated. Going back just a few years during the height of the pandemic severity, what separated the people from contracting Covid and having a fairly benign course of fever, cough and weakness that healed in a few days vs. those people that a much more complicated course requiring ventilator use or even death? The answer is the differences in the strength of the immune system.
Age is a big factor contributing to the immune system with obviously younger people having stronger immune systems than those of geriatric age. However, there are a number of “controllable” factors that can play large roles in strengthening vs. weakening the immune system. Some of these factors include:
- Getting a good amount of rest/sleep
- Minimizing the use of alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Avoid smoking/vaping
- Reducing stress
- Appropriate vaccinations (certainly a controversial topic that I will not get into here)
- Ensuring a good amount of Vitamin intake such as Vitamin D
Good nutrition and weight control are major contributors to a stronger immune system as well. The reason why I separated this from the other bullet points: The Covid experience and data showed that the most significant risk factor for developing severe Covid illness and death (aside from advanced age) were obesity related co-morbidities.
The reason why I am posting this entry: I am seeing more and more people contracting Covid (here we go again) and we are rapidly approaching the flu season. Let’s all get serious about strengthening our immune systems and this starts with ‘cleaning up our acts” when it comes to the factors discussed above. There is no doubt that we will all be exposed to infections. The question comes down to whether the organism or our immune systems will win the fight.
Here is a sort of cute song about the immune system…their version of Queen’s song “Somebody to Love”.