My Immune System

The Forces at Work that Fight on Behalf of My Health and Wellbeing
July 1, 2020

What is the Immune System?

Dr. Dennis Haslam, an emergency department physician at Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, describes the immune system as a team of soldiers whose job it is to fight against invaders and to recognize things as friend or foe within our environment. These soldiers serve as our body’s first line of defense against the invaders, which we call disease and infection.

These soldiers constantly fight for a balanced immune system, which is essential to leading a physically, mentally and spiritually healthy life. If your immune system is low, you are more likely to get sick, and are susceptible to illness. If your immune system is working too hard, the soldiers will fight against themselves, which can lead to problems such as autoimmune disease. The key is to find a sweet spot, says Dr. Haslam. Exercise, sleep, nutrition and stress are all factors that contribute to the health and function of the immune system.

How Do I Boost it?

To boost your immune system, Dr. Haslam recommends keeping active with an exercise level that elevates your heart rate for 30 minutes, three to five days per week. You should always consult with your physician when beginning a new diet or exercise regimen or if you have preexisting health issues.

Nutrition is one of the best ways to fuel your immune system’s soldiers. A naturally colorful diet with minimal processed foods is another great way to contribute to your immune system’s health. By eating antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries, beans and spinach, you should be getting the nutrients your immune system needs. For added support, Dr. Haslam suggests vitamins A, C, D and zinc supplements. “There is such a thing as too much of a good thing,” warns Dr. Haslam. “Your primary care physician can test to find out if your body is low in any of these vitamins or minerals.”

Dr. Dennis Haslam is an emergency department physician at Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

What Hinders it?

Stress also has an impact on how hard your soldiers can fight. Too much stress can easily suppress the immune system. In turn, this slows your body’s healing process down and gives you a higher chance of catching infection. If you are looking for ways to reduce your stress levels, Dr. Haslam’s recommendations include breathing exercises, counseling and journaling.

When it comes to sleep, we all know that we should get eight hours. How many of us still find ourselves scrolling on our phones or watching TV in bed? This habit can affect your sleep cycle and confuse your body, lowering your soldiers’ ability to fight off invaders. Dr. Haslam recommends avoiding screen time for one to two hours before going to bed, and practicing bedtime routines such as reading, journaling or taking a bath to help remind your brain that it’s time to get sleep.

Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure you are getting nutrition, sleep, exercise and care to keep your mind, body and soul healthy so that you can live your life to the fullest.

By Sarah Stephens, Texas Health Huguley Marketing/PR Relations Manager, and Kira Brandt, Texas Health Huguley Marketing/PR Specialist