We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether or not these organisms lead to disease is decided by the integrity of our body’s defense mechanisms, or immune system. When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. But when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions.
What Is the Immune System?
The immune system is an interactive network of organs, cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses and bacteria or any foreign substances. The immune system works to neutralize and remove pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that enter the body, recognize and neutralize harmful substances from the environment, and fight against the body’s own cells that have changes due to an illness.
The cells of the immune system originate in the bone marrow, then migrate to guard the peripheral tissues, circulating in the blood and in the specialized system of vessels called the lymphatic system.
When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. It’s when the performance of our immune system is compromised that we face illness. Underactivity of the immune system results in severe infections and tumors of immunodeficiency, while overactivity results in allergic and autoimmune diseases.
For our body’s natural defenses to run smoothly, the immune system must be able to differentiate between “self” and “non-self” cells, organisms and substances. “Non-self” substances are called antigens, which includes the proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, fungi and viruses. When the cells of the immune system detect the presence of an antigen, the immune system recalls stored memories in order to quickly defend itself against known pathogens.
However, our own cells also have surface proteins, and it’s important that the immune system does not work against them. Normally, the immune system has already learned at an earlier stage to identify these cells proteins as “self,” but when it identifies its own body as “non-self,” this is called an autoimmune reaction.
The amazing thing about the immune system is that it’s constantly adapting and learning so that the body can fight against bacteria or viruses that change over time. There are two parts of the immune system — our innate immune system works as a general defense against pathogens and our adaptive immune system targets very specific pathogens that the body has already has contact with. These two immune systems complement each other in any reaction to a pathogen or harmful substance.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to boost immunity.
Garlic is a natural immune booster. A 2009 study published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis found that garlic enhances immune functions and has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.
Its active ingredient allicin helps fight infection and bacteria. In addition, garlic has vitamins C and B6 along with the minerals selenium and manganese that help boost the immune system.
- Eat 2 to 3 raw cloves of garlic on an empty stomach daily.
- Also, add crushed garlic to your dishes. Avoid cooking garlic too much as it can destroy its active compounds.
- You can also take garlic supplements, but only under a doctor’s supervision.
Turmeric has antioxidants that are important for your health as well as immune system. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and help your immune system function properly.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, helps improve the ‘orderliness’ of cell membranes, which makes the cells more resistant to infection.
- Drink a glass of turmeric milk daily. To make the milk, boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of milk or just add the turmeric in hot milk. Add a little honey and drink it.
- Also, include turmeric in your cooking.
- You can also take turmeric supplements, after consulting a doctor.
3. Probiotic Yogurt
Eating probiotic yogurt every day is one of the best home remedies for low immunity. Probiotic yogurt contains billions of friendly gut organisms (probiotics) that help strengthen your immune system.
It aids the development of white blood cells and antibodies, which in turn reduces the incidence and duration of infections.
- Eat 2 cups of probiotic yogurt with live cultures daily.
- You can also drink a smoothie made with yogurt and immune-boosting fruits like apples bananas, blueberries, and strawberries.
Lemon contains vitamin C, which plays an important role in boosting your immunity. Vitamin C helps the white blood cells function properly so that they can respond quickly to infections.
Lemon also aids in removing toxins from the body as well as helping maintaining your body weight.
- Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into a glass of purified, lukewarm water.
- Add a little honey.
- Drink it on an empty stomach each morning.
- Wait 30 minutes, then enjoy your breakfast.
5. Green Tea
Regularly drinking green tea is another simple home remedy to boost immunity. According to a 2011 study by Oregon State University, several beneficial compounds in green tea help increase “regulatory T cells” in the body that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease.
The antioxidants in green tea protect the body from free-radical damage, which is essential to keep the immune system running normally.
- Steep a green tea bag in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag, add honey and drink it.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily.