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  • Writer's pictureDr. Clifford Brown

A Healthy Immune System: What Should I know?

In general, good-healthy-living practices can assist your immune system. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

  • Don't smoke directly or indirectly.

  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

  • Get adequate sleep.

  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.

  • Try to minimize stress.

  • Keep current with all recommended vaccines. Vaccines prime your immune system to fight off infections before they take hold in your body.

COVID, RSV, and the current influenza strains are among the families of viruses that can effectively attack the respiratory systems of individuals even when there has not been a previously established history of viral illness. As Fall approaches and the "flu season" will be upon us again within weeks, all of us need to take measures supportive of our natural immune systems.

Immunity in action

A healthy immune system can defeat invading pathogens as shown above, where two bacteria that cause gonorrhea are no match for the large phagocyte, called a neutrophil, that engulfs and kills them (see arrows).Photos courtesy of Michael N. Starnbach, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

Factors affecting our immune system

Having said this, the many factors that influence (positively or negatively) the health and effective function of the immune system vary from person to person and are poorly defined (in spite of what you will see when you walk into a "health food" store or your family doctor's office). Age, diet, exercise, herbs and supplements, stress, and sudden temperature changes are just some of the numerous factors pitched to us as consumers. Each of these factors affect us in a very complicated manner, and what works for one may not necessarily work for others.

Points to remember:

1. Scientifically speaking, a mountain of work is needed before dogmatic statements should be made as to what will or will not build your immune system.

2. Careful considerations should be made individually in conjunction with your physician as you develop the pathway for your own health and well being. One cautionary fact is well established: (as the Harvard Medical School article cited below states) "taking megadoses of a single vitamin does not (bring positive immune system benefits); more is not necessarily better."

Vaccinations can be scheduled at the CCPHA (719.783./3369) if you so desire. To read an entire article regarding this topic, you may find the text at the following site:

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