With cold and flu season in full swing, it is important to keep your immune system at peak performance. Through the power of marketing, the most common way people try to improve their immune system is by taking Vitamin C. Unfortunately, the immune system is significantly more complicated than that. Just one supplement won’t magically prevent a person from contracting whatever disease is spreading through their workplace or school. Let’s talk about what makes up the immune system and how your Rochester chiropractor can help you make different nutritional and lifestyle changes to improve its function.
The immune system is an intricate system of biochemical pathways that are designed to protect our bodies from any harmful pathogens that may enter our bodies. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are all recognized as foreign entities that the body will defend against in many different ways. The immune system can be broken down into two main types: innate and adaptive. The innate immune system is the body's first line of defense against pathogens. Skin, hair, and nails are innate protectors and work by maintaining a barrier to prevent anything harmful from entering the body. The adaptive immune system works inside the body. Adaptive immune cells work together to detect new threats that have entered the body and develop antibodies to fight them off.
Optimal immune function is dependent on having a well-rounded and balanced diet. Both innate and adaptive immune systems are altered by deficiencies in many vitamins or minerals. Vitamin A, all of the B vitamins, and zinc are necessary for the development of immune cells in the adaptive system as well as maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails in the innate system. If foreign entities do enter the body, the breakdown of these different bacteria, viruses, or toxins produces a lot of oxidative stress. Having plenty of Vitamin C and E helps support the body's antioxidant response, preventing a slowdown of immune function. Lastly, Vitamin D is necessary for its role in the activation of immune cells. The deficiency of this vitamin has been linked to increased susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections.
There are a few lifestyle factors that can play a role in immune function. Smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle have both been shown to depress the immune system making people significantly more susceptible to colds or the flu. Sleep also plays a factor in immune function. Both quality and quantity of sleep can affect both susceptibility and length of recovery to colds and flu. The last lifestyle factor is personal hygiene. Simply washing your hands regularly can significantly decrease exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses. The decreased exposure gives the immune system a much easier target to take out, decreasing both symptoms and length of recovery.
If you are interested in learning more about how nutrition plays a role in immunity or are looking to modify your existing diet to strengthen your immune system, schedule an appointment today with your Rochester chiropractor. Here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, our chiropractor in Rochester can help apply simple modifications to your existing diet that will allow your immune system to function at its optimal level. Give us a call to schedule a free nutrition consultation.