You may have woken up one morning with a clogged nose and mild coughing, and you must be thinking to yourself how this happened. You were fine last night, and now you are left with a runny nose? This is the result of your immune system fighting hard against an invader- in this case, the common cold, perhaps.
There is no place that a virus cannot strike-everything from the skin and brain to the liver and the digestive tract is fair game to it. Flu viruses and cold are one of the most common forms of the virus that is recognizable all over the world, with an estimated 60 million cases on the bare minimum. Your body however is equipped with a powerful defense mechanism- The Immune System.
So one beckons the question of how this immune system does what it does. Let us find out…
How Does Your Immune System Ward Off Viruses?
Having a strong and efficient immune response relies on various body systems and cell types, all working in tandem to identify and remove the pathogens who have gained entry into the body. Let us take the case of how viruses are kept at bay.
A virus is nothing but pieces of RNA or DNA that make use of the host cells, to make exact copies of themselves. So in essence, when a virus enters the body, it injects in its genetic material into your healthy cells. These healthy cells turn infected and make more of the viral gene, which either separates off from the cell surfaces, or they build up within the cell until the cell essentially bursts, spilling out the contents. Once the new viral material is released, it begins to attack nearby healthy cells and begins the process to infect them.
Your Immune System Fighting Back: Innate And Adaptive Immunity
Invasion by a virus triggers what is called the innate immunity response. This is a generalized immune response that helps your body control the invasion and get a hold of the infection. However, this isn’t trained to target a specific pathogen. This is where the adaptive immune response kicks in. Think of it as you visit a doctor in general medicine, and once they have an understanding as to what you need help in, they refer you to a specialist in a particular field to get your problem fixed.
The adaptive immunity is mediated by what is called the B-cells and the T-cells. The T-cells are present in the bone marrow and slowly find their way to the thymus gland to mature. B-cells on the other hand are produced and mature within the bone marrow itself.
T-cells act as patrols, which are on the lookout for invaders. Once they have been detected, the B-cells create antibodies against a known pathogen. This is what allows your body to recognize the virus and suitably fight back against it, especially if it has encountered it before.
Now, different types of T-cells exist and they coordinate the adaptive immunity response using the additional help from the lymphatic tissues all over the body. Once the pathogen has been ‘tagged’ and understood, it is time to move in and destroy the invaders, thus returning your body to its initial state of health and wellness.
Boosting Your Immune System Naturally
The diet you follow and the foods you eat determine how well your immune system is equipped to fend off invaders. This is why you must choose a steady stream of nutrient rich plant-based foods. And why plant-based meals, you ask? It is because such a diet centered on whole plant foods helps in stimulating natural killer cell activity. Such a diet helps in honing the innate response as well and fights off respiratory infections with more ease.
Foods That Help Boost Your Immune System
- Fruits And Vegetable: Make sure that the fruits and veggies are as vibrant in color as possible. The closer your plant resembles a rainbow, the more of anti-oxidant goodness is jam packed within them.
- Bitter Greens: These help in promoting killer cell production and ensure its proper function by promoting liver health. Some of the bitter greens you can include in your plant-based diet are dandelion and arugula.
- Whole Grains And Legumes: These provide fiber to ensure healthy gut functioning. The gut after all is the center of importance for immune activity, and keeping it in check is essential. These foods are rich in Vitamin B and Zinc, both of which help the immune system do its job better.
- Flax Seeds And Nuts: Adding healthy fats to your diet is important to ensure proper cell functioning. These ensure that fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed more easily and also help in reducing inflammation and swelling, both of which go hand-in-hand with the immune system.
Switch to a plant-based diet and allow your immune system to recover and strengthen.