Immunity: Fight the Good Fight
By Dr. Kendra Styron
We all know the agony of sore throats, stuffy noses, fatigue, and the dreaded cough. These symptoms are common signs our bodies are working hard to protect us from illness (even though it may feel like we are ill already). Think about this for a moment, on Earth there are approximately five million trillion trillion bacteria. If that number is too big to wrap your head around, that's a "5" with 30 zeros, which is more than the number of stars in the entire universe. Mind boggling, huh. We are exposed to a significant number of bacteria every single second. Our bodies have been cunningly created to be able to protect us from harmful bacteria inhabiting for a lengthy amount of time. The first defense we have is skin. It is the largest organ of our bodies and acts as a strong barrier that prevents these bacteria from entering our cells. If, by chance, it "outsmarts" our skin barrier and passes into the body, our immune systems detect and eliminate the intruders (which sometimes is no easy task). In order to prevent additional germs from calling our body "home", signals are made to block all easy access points to our insides. Nasal pathways which once were clear and easy to breath now become blocked or congested. Throats which were once unnoticeable become raw, sore, and produce more mucus to stop the invaders. And the cough, which annoys all of us, is meant to propel the infections further away from our lungs (a place which is vulnerable to harboring harmful bacteria).
The immune system is one of the hardest working systems of our bodies, yet we only care about it when it fails. Think about all the times you could've been sick and your body saved you from that discomfort? Do you see the importance of keeping our bodies in optimal combat-ready condition? As we previously mentioned, the first area our immune system works is our skin. Vitamin A is what causes our bodies to produce connective tissue, which is a key part of healthy skin. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin A. They also contain beta-carotene, which is found in orange vegetables, a precursor to Vitamin A and powerful antioxidant. Probiotics, or bacteria that aid our body in fighting infections, are housed in our gut. When these get depleted from stressors (bad diet, lifestyle, over-use), our probiotic count goes down making us more prone to a plethora of health issues. Yogurt containing active and live cultures are sources of probiotics.
The goal is to keep our immune system strong at all times to create prevention of illnesses. Daily habits are constantly depleting our immune system of its effectiveness. For example, being a night owl and getting less sleep decreases the amount of antibodies we produce. Being pessimistic has a correlation to less T cells which are powerful immunity cells from the thymus. Taking antibiotics has a direct effect on suppressing the immune system increasing your likelihood of sickness in the future. Make the choice to give your immune system all the tools it needs to keep your body happy and healthy.