By Renee Mahaffey Harris, President & CEO, The Health Gap
Our immune system is an extraordinary network that requires a harmonious balance to function and fight against a multitude of infections and diseases. While there are many factors known to be linked to the immune system, much is still unknown. We know that people who live in poverty are more susceptible to infectious diseases due to poor nutrition and environmental factors. We also now know that our immune system is interconnected with our mental health – particularly stress.
Like every part of our bodies, our immune system is strengthened by healthy living. Diet, physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management are things we can control. At The Health Gap, we work with people of color to develop practical, individualized solutions to help improve their health and their family’s health because our battles are multidimensional and don’t always align with the general population’s.
Many people believe supplements are the answer to immune system health. The scientific community seems to warn us to be cautious of placing too much reliance on supplements. This is because the immune system is complex with so many different types of cells that respond to varying organisms. Plus our bodies are constantly generating more immune cells. A Harvard Health Publishing article states “taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may bring other health benefits, beyond any possibly beneficial effects on the immune system.”
Experts agree that supporting a healthy lifestyle is our best bet in maintaining a harmonious immune system balance. The US National Institute of Health reports “of the 37 approaches to boost immunity recorded, the top ones were diet (77% of webpages), fruit (69%), vitamins (67%), antioxidants (52%), probiotics (51%), minerals (50%), and vitamin C (49%).”
So, what should you do to protect your immune system? As stated earlier, maintain a healthy diet, incorporate daily/weekly physical activity, get enough sleep, and manage stress. I urge you to determine what you can do today to be healthier (body and mind) and help your immune system maintain its harmonious balance. For those who are interested in learning more about how the immune system works, watch this easy to
understand, animated video and check out the source links below.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6673706/ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320721#Can-the-immune-system-be- boosted? https://www.umms.org/coronavirus/what-to-know/managing-medical-conditions/healthy- habits/boost-immune-system