It was the latter part of December 2019 when news of a new virus in China first broke. At first, it felt like it was an isolated case, but suddenly and very quickly, cases started rising in different parts of the world. It was like a thief in the night but with the morning feeling like it was taking longer than usual to arrive because, for a time, no one knew what it actually was, much more how to cure it. Everyone was learning about the virus as it attacked and affected humans. Until finally, we learned about the virus enough to be able to create vaccines for it, and with continued research *hopefully* we will also find a cure.
Now, one of the things that we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that simply having a strong immune system is good but not enough; our immune system should always be taken care of and strengthened.
With the world almost completely back to normal, we have to make sure that we take care of our immune systems. We have to make sure that our immune system is at its best, so we can enjoy all the parties and get-togethers without worrying about getting ill.
The Immune System
As our Science subjects would tell us, the immune system is one of our body systems and is in charge of protecting our bodies from germs, bacteria, viruses, and the like. When our immune system is at its best, it can actually kill these germs or limit the effects they may have on our bodies, allowing us to not feel ill at all or only experience mild symptoms.
The immune system is composed of two parts—innate and adaptive immune systems:
- Innate immune system. This is the part of our immune system that we are born with. It is composed of the skin, the eye’s cornea, and the mucous membrane that lines our respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts. They create physical barriers that help protect our bodies. The innate immune system is inherited and is active from the moment we are born.
- Adaptive immune system. This part of the immune system is something we develop as we grow and become exposed to different germs, bacteria, and viruses. Together with our innate immune system, the adaptive immune system makes special proteins (called antibodies) that protect us from specific invaders. Immunizations (like vaccines) help the adaptive immune system in creating antibodies that would fight a specific virus. The adaptive immune system is also sometimes called the “acquired immune system.”
Strengthening our immune systemThere are many different ways on how we can boost our immunity. In this article, we gathered 5 easy ways to help boost our immune system and help you prepare for all your upcoming holiday events:
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is often under appreciated. We all think of sleep as just simply resting. However, it is important to know that sleep actually does wonders for our bodies. Giving ourselves plenty of sleep does not only mean allowing our physical bodies to rest; sleep also allows our organs to recharge and recover from everything they went through throughout the day. So if you have plenty of holiday parties and get-togethers lined up, make sure to allot enough time for sleep to help your body recover and prepare for the next one.
- Stay active. We mentioned earlier what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us in terms of valuing our immune system, but another thing that it taught us is staying active or getting some exercise does not necessarily mean needing to go to the gym every single day.
- Eat healthy. “Eating healthy” in the context of boosting our immune system is primarily about giving our bodies the nutrients it needs. Fruits and vegetables are often at the top of the list when it comes to good sources of vitamins and minerals. Some of the most common vitamins and minerals we need for our immune system are Vitamin C (citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage), Vitamin D (salmon, tuna, sunlight)*, Zinc (meats, poultry, and seafood)*, and Vitamin E (nuts, spinach, red bell pepper). (Side note: every body has its own needs. You can always consult your doctor if you want to know which vitamins and minerals your body needs more of.)
*There are alternatives to meat in case you’re following a diet that does not allow the consumption of particular food items.
**BONUS TIP: Taking dietary supplements can also help strengthen our immunity. Just make sure to consult a doctor first, so you’ll know which supplements will be best for you.
- Be mindful of your weight. The “BMI” or Body Mass Index is a good matrix for determining whether your weight is appropriate for you. However, it is important to note that BMIs only take into consideration your body mass, height, and age. It does not identify your actual body fat count or health condition. Consult your physician to have a thorough idea of your actual health status.
- Reduce stress. Stress comes in different forms and means differently in different people. Consequently, how to manage or reduce stress also varies. So don’t ever feel bad if something seems to stress you out and not others; we all have our own stressors. The important thing is knowing how to handle them. Some of the most common ways to manage or reduce stress are: meditation, working out, and performing your hobbies.
Parties in the midst of a pandemic.We know that there are times that it does not seem like it, but we are still very much in a pandemic, and in case you have not been keeping up with the news, there are still new variants of the virus being discovered to this day. In fact, some reports have been saying that a new Omicron subvariant is responsible for the new surge of cases in some countries. With every new variant also comes the question of what makes it different and how it will affect us, and until we can finally put a stop to the virus’s mutation, these questions will always be there.
“Prevention is better than cure.” This is definitely one of the oldest and most common quotes of all time, but it’s a classic for a reason. It may feel like we have finally adapted to the new normal and grown accustomed to living in a world with the COVID-19 virus in it, but it is still very much important to make sure that we stay healthy.
With the upcoming holiday parties and get-togethers, do not forget to boost your immunity to avoid getting severely ill. A good immune system may not guarantee that you will not get infected by the virus, or any virus at all, but it can help minimize its possible impacts on your body. If you can, follow the basic health protocols like wearing a mask, physical distancing, sanitizing, and getting vaccinated.
Remember, the holidays are the season for joy. It’s hard to celebrate and enjoy our time with our loved ones if we are sick.