26 Jul How We Get Sick & What To Do About It
If you’re like me, then you hate getting sick. Not only does it stop us from undertaking all the good things in life like waking up with clear respiratory ways or a throat that can happily swallow any saliva residue without pain, but it also demotivates us and drains our energy.
Getting sick is certainly an unfortunate yet inevitable occurrence in all our lives if we’re ones to dabble in stepping outside and traversing the harsh environment of our planet.
What you may not have considered before, however, is that the frequency of coming down with sicknesses can be an insight into what’s going on inside our body, and what type of lifestyle we lead.
A Brief Overview of the Immune System
Our immune system is a very complicated and intelligent design. The things that are going on inside us at a cellular level is truly remarkable, and all it takes is to breathe in some air to set things off in a cascade effect. Take, for example, when a pathogen invades our body.
Most of the time, these aren’t harmful to us as our immune system is locked and loaded and ready to take on your everyday, average invader. It also has been functioning since we were nestling inside our mother’s womb, far before we had to worry about electricity bills, speeding tickets and what to wear tomorrow.
A good way I like to think about the immune system is to envision it being an army of soldiers, enlisted to battle the enemy (bacteria).
On the front line, we have cells that show up to tackle the enemy head on known as macrophages. If they get overwhelmed with the severity of the enemy, they send for back up, or neutrophils.
When these guys arrive on the scene, due to their strength, they start to release toxins that are very potent and can actually affect healthy cells too.
If the situation becomes even more dire, the “soldiers” on site signal to the satellite (dendritic cells), requesting their presence. When these dudes arrive, they come in and swoop up portions of the bacteria, arranging them on their outer layer.
The dendritic cells then make their way along the lymphatic system, arriving at the lymph node, the home of helper and killer T cells (#bamfs), and scan the region, looking for a T cell that computes with the bacteria’s remnants upon the surface. Once they find one, they activate and replicate rapidly.
Some of the newly formed T cells then stay behind in the lymph node and act as memory cells for future attacks by the same type bacteria, whilst others will either join the fight at the site of infection, or move deeper into the lymph node. The ones that head deep, activate B cells, causing a replication process and an antibody release mechanism.
Back at the site of inception, dependent upon your immune systems ability to fight bacteria, the antibodies swarm in, overrunning the bacteria and aiding in its demise.
Once the enemy is defeated, the immune cells sadly become useless and perish. Memory T cells, however, live on, further increasing the hope for our body’s survival the next time it encounters an evil pathogen.
How to Rectify and/or Prevent the Attack
Okay, you’re sick. I get it. While I write the first draft to this, I am too. So, I feel for you, man. But, whilst you may have heard of whacky remedies before – like eating whole garlic, loading up on cold & flu tablets, or praying – there is only one true way of keeping sickness away and getting rid of it, and that is by strengthening your immune system.
It may sound a little odd, but let’s face it, a stronger immune system means an increased ability to fight those pesky invaders. So, here are my five favourite steps for optimal immune strength, for all-year round.
#1 Drink water:
Staying hydrated and keeping your bodily fluids at a constantly high level is a sure-fire way to ensure that your body is running happy. Learn a little bit more about water and how much you need for optimal health by following this link to a short video of mine: click here.
#2 Great nutrition:
For when you do fall ill, one thing that may help your body’s fight, is to make a damn good soup. Preferably with many, many vegetables. Whilst the nutrients alone will leech into the water (which you will also consume) providing a massive influx of nutrition, the placebo effect may also work here.
Keeping your nutrients high all-year round is definitely not something to shy away from, the added bonus for when you are sick is that warm vegetable goodness steam that seeps up through your nasal cavity and into your very soul (soul part may not actually happen).
I know you know this one is a given for maintaining optimal health all year round, but while you’re sick, getting active may actually help speed up the elimination of the flu. Whilst you might not be able to train at the intensity you’re used to while completely healthy (or want to), getting your heart rate up just slightly can increase your blood flow, which can then lead to an increase in the flushing away of pathogens and bacteria from your cells.
#4 Fresh air:
So much of our lives revolves around us being indoors and breathing in everyone else’s bacteria-ridden CO2. Do yourself a favour and get outside once in a while. Sit in the sun, read a book, breathe in that fresh air.
We’ve all heard of the studies that point towards the fact that low levels of vitamin D can lead to all sorts of hindering abilities, including the lowering of your body’s absorption ability of vitamin and minerals, and wreaking havoc on your immune systems skills, so eat up that sun when you can.
Of course whilst you’re sick you might struggle to get some rest with your nose clogged up and your throat feeling like a hundred knives are slicing their way through it, but optimal rest allows for optimal recovery. Aim to go to bed earlier than usual and save your usual TV binge for another time. And if you’re after a couple more tips (eight to be exact), be sure to check out my sleep article: click here.
That’s a Wrap
The above five tips no doubt are not particularly ground-breaking, but they are most certainly five of the best when it comes to dealing with and preventing the onset sicknesses. Keep on top of these basic five, and your life will better off for it. And if you can get to each end of the year and only count on one hand the amount of times you were sick, then you can be happy and acknowledge the fact that you are more than likely adhering to these above five basic tips.
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