Cold and flu season – it’s an annual reality of Northern living. Currently at its peak, there are another couple months to go, so don’t let your guard down yet. Are you one of those people who seems to catch everything going around? Sick again, in bed, another day off work…it’s frustrating!
If you are frequently sick, your immune system is likely not up to par. Beyond coughs, runny noses, and sore throats, with an imbalanced immune system, we are vulnerable to other serious diseases such as:
- Autoimmune conditions affecting the joints such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Processes like plaque formation in the arteries leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease
- Mental illnesses like depression and Alzheimer’s
- Gastrointestinal afflictions such as food allergies and Celiac disease
When our defense system is not protecting us to its fullest capacity there are a wide range of diseases we may be prone to.
The great news is, there is so much you can do to prevent colds, flus and other illnesses. Even better yet, there are many low-risk treatment options that can help you to develop a strong, healthy and responsive immune system.
I believe your immune system is your greatest health asset in today’s world and here’s why:
1. It is interconnected to every other organ system of the body: Immune cells like white blood cells and antibodies flow through our blood coursing every organ in your body. They scout for antigens (foreign material) and get to work doing their specialized jobs. In addition, many organs have specialized immune cells that provide extra support to the organ such as microglial cells in the brain and Kupffer cells in the liver.
2. It protects your personal identity: Your immune system’s primary objective is to identify what is you and what is not you. If it identifies something as not you, it tags it as ”foreign”, then initiates an immune attack. It is in charge of knowing you and protecting your personal identity. Auto-immune diseases occur when your immune system fails to recognize a cell belonging to you as such, and starts to attack your own cells.
3. It has intelligence and memory: The ability to learn and apply defines ‘intelligence’. Your immune system possesses its very own innate intelligence. Upon seeing a foreign invader such as a virus just one time, your immune system attacks, then stores the memory of the virus. The next time that virus appears, your immune system remembers the virus, recruiting immune cells and launches a bigger attack, backed by a legion of immune ‘soldiers’. Each time the virus is encountered, it mounts a stronger response.
4. You can influence its strength: Ultimately, you have the power to maintain healthy immune balance. In doing so, you are working at preventing serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and autoimmunity. In the short-term, your successes will be obvious by a lower incidence of colds and flus, less days in bed sick and not catching the latest virus to blow through the office.
The bottom line: Nurture your immune system to enhance and maintain its proficiency. It is your most valuable health asset!