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All About Your Immune System
Understanding your Immune System and Health Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic
These days we keep reading and hearing about the “Immune system”. We are told to boost our immune system but what does that mean? How do you boost your immune system?
What is the immune system? Why is it important?
Immune system, noun:
the system that protects your body from diseases and infections.
Per Merriam Webster’s dictionary: Definition of immune system: the bodily system that protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing the immune response and that includes especially the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (as in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow), macrophages, lymphocytes including the B cells and T cells, and antibodies.
In other words, your immune system is the way your body fights off foreign invaders that may enter your body to harm you. Without an immune system, your body would be without defense when bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. attack it.
What does it mean to be immunocompromised or immunosuppressed?
People who have a weak immune system are immunocompromised. These individuals have less ability to fight infections and other diseases.
What causes a weak immune system?
There are many reasons a person may be immunocompromised. Here are some common causes:
- Certain genetic conditions
- Certain diseases, such as:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lung disease/asthma
- Anticancer drugs
- Radiation therapy
- Organ or bone marrow transplant
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic stress
- Lack of sleep
- Physical inactivity
- Advanced age
- Malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies (e.g., vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, copper, iron, selenium, zinc)
- Exercise moderately
- Follow a healthy diet. Eat nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and protein
- Take nutritional supplements that help boost your immune system (e.g. probiotics, certain herbs, medicinal mushroom extracts, vitamins, and minerals, etc.)
What to do to boost your immune system:
You have heard me talk about lifestyle modifications to manage several illnesses. The number one step in helping strengthen your immune system is “lifestyle modification”. Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid stress as much as possible
- De-stress 3 times a day, 10 minutes each (Mindful meditation, yoga, praying, deep breathing, etc.
- Get enough sleep. Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
Let’s not forget the common guidelines recommended by the CDC
- Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
- Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
- Avoid touching your face
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
- Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.
For specific immune-boosting supplements and further questions, please feel free to contact me at Community Clinical Pharmacy via email or phone. Stay healthy.
Sharzad Green, Pharm. D., is a hormone replacement specialist & pharmacist at Community Clinical Pharmacy, in Mesa, Arizona. She offers private Hormone Replacement Consultations to find a tailored solution that fits your needs. Sharzad has had the privilege of working with over 12,000 patients and providers in the Valley and around the world.
When in doubt, contact one of our knowledgeable pharmacists at Community Clinical Pharmacy. We are here to offer you solutions and assist you in making informed decisions about your health. Contact us with comments, questions, or pharmacy
related topics you’d like to know more about. And, as always, stay healthy!
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