Oh, the winter. Tons of cold and tons of…GERMS. Seeing as how there’s plenty going around right now, we wanted to let you know about the number one way to strengthen your immune system.
You have two different immune systems, as a matter of fact. You have your innate defense system and your adaptive immune system.
The innate defense system is for everyday run of the mill viruses – the common cold and things like that. Usually those viruses are stopped before they even enter the body by your skin and mucous membranes in your nose. This is why this is called the innate immune system. It just comes naturally. There are also the first responders of your innate immune system known as phagocytes and natural killer cells that can generally stop any virus that presents itself before you actually get sick. And if you should get sick, your body will kick on a fever in order to kill off any of these viruses present in your bloodstream.
The adaptive immune system is the one most people think of when they’re talking about immune systems. The adaptive immune system is the one that must first be presented with specific type of viruses and get to know them. Once it has been introduced to a virus, it is much more likely to stop it should it ever present itself in your body again. This is why most of us get chicken pox once when we’re a child and never get it again. Your adaptive immune system has taken record of that virus and now knows how to stop it. This is also why vaccines work. You present a virus to your adaptive immune system in order to prepare it.
The immune system you have the most control over strengthening is your innate immune system. So, how do you strengthen your skin and ensure your mucous membranes and first line of defense cells are ready to go?
When we sleep, a lot of your autonomous systems shut down. Your fight or flight system gets turned off. Your digestive system shuts down. This is why it’s not good to eat right before bed, because if your digestive system is still working while you’re trying to fall asleep, then your body can’t begin to repair skin cells. While your digestive system is shut down, you body will begin to repair your gut lining which will in turn strengthen many of those first line of defense cells that we spoke about. You need to ensure that you’re getting adequate sleep so that all of those things work.
So, this winter season if you want to be sure your immune system is ready to handle those pesky little viruses that go around, here’s your answer: get more sleep!
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