We daily come across many advertisements claims of boosting the immune system by different companies. People to get some benefit from them spend hefty amounts to try these health supplements. Some experts favor the benefits of these supplements, yet most of them are doubtful about the actual benefits which one may get from these supplements.
Everyone out there wants to stay healthy, and due to our busy lives, no one can even think of getting sick as it is not only “affordable” –when thinking about the cost associated with it – but also due to the unbearable “sick” feeling one has to go through during the period. That is the main reason people are attracted to these fancy claims of immune system boosting and going to try these products to minimize their chances of getting sick.
Do these immune support supplements have any benefit or these are all myths? Are people getting any good from the amount they are spending on these supplements? This can be answered in a better way if we have a good understanding of what our immune system is and how it performs its function. This will help us to know how immune system can be strengthened and what role immune support supplements can play in this regard.
Immune system & its function
Immune system job is to protect us from harmful disease-causing agents such as bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. It is a well-organized but complex system which is not limited to any area of our body instead it is scattered throughout the body and performs its function.
The immune system has a different type of cells each having a different role in the body defense.
- Macrophages – These cells are the first line of defense in the body, and they eat the danger causing the organism to eliminate it.
- Natural killer cells (NKs) – They act as the second defense line and are the fighting squad of the system against the external threats.
- T cells – These cells act to manage the immunity system messages and flow of other cells across the body.
- Dendritic cells – These cells interact with the food intake and sense the presence of any harmful organisms and act accordingly by stimulating more cell production or movement of cells.
If we talk about a boost or improvement in immunity, we are referring to the provision of support or enhancing the function of these cells.
Immune Support Supplements – Good or Bad
Most of the experts believe immune system is developed by our body and works best without any external interference and any interference in its working can cause more harm than benefit to the body. As the supplements usually marketed have no scientific proof of boosting immunity system by their products.
These experts prefer to use a regular diet with adequate exercise to maintain and boost the body immunity system instead of external supplements.
On the other hand, some experts believe there are proven benefits linked to some diets and herbs which are beneficial in boosting human immunity system against the diseases.
A Balanced Approach
A better way that has been agreed by most of the experts is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which naturally develops and harnesses your immune system. Following are some of the steps one might take to build and boost the body immunity system.
- Have a proper, well-balanced diet containing fresh fruits, juices, vegetables, whole grain foods and nuts. Fresh fruits and vegetables give us all the essential vitamins and nutrients which one may need for the development of body and immunity system.
People eating a well-balanced diet are known to have good health and robust immunity system than the persons who suffer from malnutrition and insufficient food.
- Getting enough sleep is also linked to a healthy immune system as body performs its most development and maintenance related tasks during sleep and not getting enough sleep leads to more infections and a weaker immune system. Cytokines, a chemical used in immune system signaling is more active during sleep.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is known to damage immune system cells. Nicotine and various other hydrocarbons found in cigarettes destroy immune cells such as macrophages & lymphocytes.
- Exercise regularly. Depending on your age and condition include a light to moderate exercise in daily routine. People who are active and do regular exercise are scientifically known to have better immune systems than the others.
- Get immunized. A better and scientifically proven way of boosting your immune system is to get vaccinated. After proper diet and exercise, vaccination is the best way to provide support to your body immunity system.
- Studies show that chronic stress hurts immune system. This increases the chances of getting infections and diseases more often. To keep the immune system healthy stress management is essential.
- Research shows that some people have a higher risk of infection in the cold. So, if you feel that cold does affect your immunity than its better to avoid it as much as you can to prevent infections and damage to the immune system.
- Immunity system weakens with growing age and everybody experiences this as he becomes older. Older people are vaccinated for frequent infections so that their weakened immune system is given some boost to perform better in fighting diseases. If deemed appropriate doctors may also prescribe specific special diet or supplements to elderly persons for immune support.
- Personal hygiene is essential as it not only protects you from getting caught into certain infections but also prevents its further spreading. Certain diseases can affect the immune system, so it’s better to adopt personal cleanliness and hygiene as a preventive step. Washing hands, covering mouth and nose while sneezing are the best ways to promote health.
- Doctors in some instances may prescribe some supplements to people such as children or adults suffering from malnutrition, severely sick patients or elderly people whose immune system is already weak due to some reason.
The best way is to use natural, and experts recommended methods to boost immunity system. In specific requirements, a better approach is to get vaccinated in consultation with your doctor. Any immune boosting supplement should only be used if prescribed by a doctor in certain conditions and in that case too it’s better to make sure if the supplement has some concrete evidence of providing some benefit to the immune system without any side effects or toxic ingredients.
There are many cases reported in which Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued a warning to many companies manufacturing such immune support supplements about misleading advertisement, harmful ingredients or claims without any research base. Airborne, Zicam, Coldcalm, Wellness Formula & Emergen-C are such products which were in the news due to warnings from FDA or FTC due to their ingredients.
If you are falling prey to a fancy advertisement of some immune support supplement than make sure that the claims being made by the manufacturer do have some valid scientific research base. And the ingredients being used don’t cause any harm to your health.