By: Syed Arif Hussain (Silver Medalist)
The immune system is the body’s defense against infections. The immune system attacks germs and helps keep us healthy. Many cells and organs work together to protect the body. White blood cells, also called leukocytes play an important role in the immune system. Some types of white blood cells, called phagocytes chew up invading organisms. Others, called lymphocytes help the body remember the invaders and destroy them. The bad news is that there is no magic pill or miracle broth that will ‘boost’ our immunity against coronavirus overnight. The good news is that there are many ways we can give our immune system the best possible chance of operating at its optimum level. When it comes to maintaining good health, the immune system is our most precious asset. Yet we rarely appreciate our essential defense until something goes wrong. Most of the time our immune system works quietly away and we don’t even notice it. Deeply entwined with every aspect of our physical and mental health, it acts as a fortress and lays the foundations of our health and longevity. It is all that stands between us and 38,000,000,000,000 (that’s 38 trillion!) microbes in our body that threaten us constantly although 99 per cent won’t hurt us. As our sixth sense, this system connects our health to our environment, feelings and emotions. Crucially, it’s as unique to each of us as our fingerprints and with good reason, as this diversity helps sustain the human race. If our immune defense systems were identical, a single deadly disease could wipe us all out. That’s why we all know someone who never gets a cold. They may have an immune system that is expert at dealing with the common cold, but they might fare worse when faced with a different germ. Over the last decades, our fear of them has been realized, with outbreaks of Influenza, SARS, MERS, Swine flu, dangue, bird flu, ebola and many others each outbreak prompting new concerns about infection protection. But from birth to death we are silently bombarded minute by minute with an untold number of potential infectious threats. And whether or not we get sick is decided by the integrity of our immune system.
So far there has been no breakthrough in drug development or vaccine formation against COVID-19.Besides practicing precautionary including face masks, hand sanitizers and other personal protective equipments (PPEs) what we have in our hand is to strengthen our immunity to fight against COVID-19. For this the only way to improve our immune system is to change our life style and diet pattern. Hence there is no magic tablet to our health and only precautionary measures are not enough to close eyes from COVID-19. In this regard a robust, rational and plausible practice in a better direction can help us protect not only from the detrimental effects of COVID-19 but also from other pathogens as well. There are enormous ways to boost our immune system to cope with pathogens. Very few of them will be discussed them here in chronological order. The first is to consume organic food. Organic food refers to food products that are produced, prepared, and processed without the use of any chemicals. It means organic food production prohibits the use of chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or chemical preservatives. This food is best for our all health because organic foods are not genetically modified and have no injurious and harmful effect on human health. The next one to improve our immune system is to enjoy some sunshine. Sunshine is good for immunity and bad for viruses especially to COVID-19. One example is that flu is a winter problem is because the influenza virus is transmitted best at cooler temperatures and low humidity so is the COVID-19. But there are other reasons as well for seeking sunshine. Research suggests it makes disease-fighting cells in the skin move faster and work more efficiently. Sunlight also helps our bodies to make Vitamin D. The vitamin’s crucial role in immunity is not fully understood but ample levels can help protect against a lengthy list of ailments, including multiple sclerosis, asthma, depression, heart disease and cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests five to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure a few times a week is more than sufficient to keep Vitamin D levels topped up. The other practice via which we can improve our immune system is to try probiotic. The probiotic is a live micro-organism that when administered in human body in adequate amounts confer a health benefit. But few products meet this definition as it’s tricky to keep the organisms alive. Also, we don’t know if they are useful for everyone or which specific strains should be taken. In fact most microbes from probiotics do not take up residence in our guts but are transient, detectable only for a limited time during frequent consumption. This is not a reason to dismiss their health benefits though, as they can help improve the availability of nutrients from food and produce compounds that strengthen immunity. One interesting piece of research suggested that taking probiotic supplements is linked to a reduced likelihood of getting colds, and making them shorter in duration and less severe. Besides the above stated ways to have powerful immunity, proper sleep plays important part in developing immune system. Healthy sleeping hours can also make our immune system stronger, active and vibrant because it plays significant role on white blood cells and their life cycle. Lack of sleep or insomnia immediately tips our immune system into imbalance which results in weak and fragile immune system. Due to which we become immunocompromised and always susceptible to the attacks of many bacteria and viruses frequently. In nutshell in addition to practicing precautionary measures, consuming hygienic food, probiotics and maintaining proper biological clock/biological rhythms are indispensible to make our immune system vibrant and strong enough to combat any kind pathogen including COVID-19 .
Last but not the least, the easy and cheapest tip to boost immune system in fight against pathogens and keep body fit is to drink warm lemon water every morning. It should be warm water not scalding hot. Drinking lemon water regularly can help to remove overall acidity in the body, including uric acid in the joints which is one of the primary causes of pain and inflammation. The citric acid in lemon helps maximize enzyme function which stimulates lever and help in detoxification of the body. There are many health benefits of lemon that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemon’s strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and lemon also contain many substances notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene that promote immunity and fight infection.

The writer is Lecturer and PhD Scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences Karakoram International University Gilgit.
Email: arif.bio@kiu.edu.pk

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