I am asking this because I am not. There hasn’t been a single winter in the past 5 years or so without someone in our family (or all of us) “catching” something – like a cold, or worse – the flu. I am using the word “catching” since it is a common perception that someone has to sneeze at us, and we get sick. But it is far away from the truth.
Why is it that the flu epidemic affects only some of us, while others seem to “dodge” it year after year? Is it simply because they protect themselves better, by wearing warm clothes, and avoiding gatherings of others in times of the epidemic? The answer is yes and no.
While doing it protects us in many ways, some of us seem to avoid it despite being regularly exposed to cold and infection. What is the reason for their resilience? The answer is in the immune system, its strength and adaptability.
Our Immune System
To answer why some people never get sick, we need to look at our immune system and how it manages to protect us. The immune system is a complicated network of organs, systems and processes which protects the body from being taken over by bacteria, viruses, fungi and other harmful invaders. It also protects the body from an onset and growth of cancer.
When it is working well, it filters the invaders out, keeping us healthy. When the immune system is under-active, we become vulnerable to infections and even cancer. It can also become over-active and start attacking its own cells, resulting in debilitating conditions like allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and many others.
In a nutshell, the immune system consists of the following components:
- The skin
- Lymphatic system – consisting of nodes and vessels
- Bone marrow
The skin is the first defence barrier which stops bacteria and other invaders attacking the body from the outside.
The lymphatic system consists of an array of vessels and nodes whose aim is to take away and destroy products of metabolism, toxins, viruses, bacteria, cancerous cells and other harmful substances from the body cells. The Lymphatic system fulfils its destructive function mainly in the lymph nodes which start producing various cells and proteins aimed to destroy the pathogens. When we are ill, we can often see that in some parts of the body the lymph nodes become enlarged, or what we call “swollen”.
The bone marrow is contained in the long bones, pelvic bones and the vertebrae. It produces red blood cells, lymphocytes and platelets.
The spleen is a large organ which helps to filter the blood and destroy pathogens.
The thymus produces T-lymphocytes and it is mostly active in childhood and shrinks as we get older.
The tonsils produce antibodies which destroy bacteria and viruses.
All of these organs produce a number of white blood cells, lymphocytes, antigens and proteins which act like soldiers – by destroying, binding and removing pathogens from the body. When we are healthy, these processes happen without us noticing it. When we come into contact with pathogens, the body goes into a defence mode, and the immune system starts producing a large amount of these substances to fight and destroy them. If it does it successfully, we don’t even notice. However, if our immune system cannot provide adequate defence at first, the viruses and bacteria get through and multiply quickly, and the body has to work extra hard trying to eliminate them. This is the state which we call a “disease”.
Why do some people never get sick?
The answer is simple – their immune system is strong and robust and can cope with invaders. Genetic factors play a role, and so does age. However, for most people, it is an acquired factor, and this is how they achieve it:
- Train the body – the role of exercise cannot be over-estimated in maintaining a healthy immune system. However, do it in moderation, don’t become an exercise junkie.
- Eat healthy foods. Junk food takes a lot of valuable resources out of the body since it contains all sorts of additives which need to be taken out. This exhausts the body organs. Plus, your cells don’t get the essential nutrients they need. Eat foods like pulses, green vegetables, oily fish, nuts, eggs. If you can grow your own food, even some of it – even better.
- Drink lots of water and freshly made juices. Water hydrates the cells and helps to flush the body of toxins. over 70% of the body weight is water. Keep the supplies up.
- Avoid fizzy drinks and all sorts of other unhealthy beverages. They poison us with the numerous additives they contain, as well as sugar, which all put an extra strain on the liver.
- Alcohol – say ‘NO’ to it. It depletes immunity by overloading the body with sugar, so the liver has to work extra hard trying to break it down and eliminate the products of its metabolism.
- Cigarettes – bad for us as you know, since they expose our respiratory system to all sorts of pollutants, heavy metals and toxic substances, making it less able to fight infection.
- Vitamins and minerals. True – most of them should come with food. However, the way foods are produced these days means that we have to supply the body with extra nutrients in the form of supplements. Take good quality supplements – especially magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, vitamin B complex, Omega-3 fish oil or Starflower oil, and vitamin C.
- Thorough hygiene – your immune system won’t save you if you don’t take basic measures to protect yourself against infection, by washing your hands frequently, especially when you come from outside and if you have to look after a sick relative. Protect yourself in other ways too, by avoiding unnecessary contact, and wearing a mask where there are likely to be lots of germs in the air.
- Spray tea tree oil in the air if there is a sick person at home. Mix 200ml of warm water with 40 drops of tea tree oil, shake, pour into a spray bottle, and spray often.
- A positive mind is crucial for maintaining strong immunity. Take care of what you think. There is a new science called Psycho-Neuro-Immunology which researches links between the state of our mind and immunity. There is very solid proof that a strong positive mind means a strong immune system, and the other way round.
- Relax and unwind whenever you have a chance. Play the music you love. Get involved in doing what you love. Do Yoga, meditation, go for a massage – whatever helps you relax.
- Create a support network – of friends, colleagues, family. Get rid of the ones who drain you. Focus on those who help you grow.
- Use magnesium oil regularly. Magnesium is crucial for a healthy immune system and applying magnesium oil on the body is the quickest way to supplement it.
- Have your teeth and gums checked regularly. Teeth and gums harbour a lot of bacteria, and unhealthy teeth and gums become a breeding ground for them, and an open source of infection, affecting the heart, stomach, joints, and other parts of the body – and brain.
- Sleep – very very important. Melatonin – the sleep hormone – plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy immune system, and when we are deprived of sleep, we don’t produce enough of it, which means that our immune system suffers.
- Healthy relationships. I have already mentioned it earlier but will mention again. Make sure that your relationships are based on healthy foundations. Draining relationships stress and exhaust us, and a stressed mind undermines our immune system.
- Healthy self-esteem. Work on improving yourself by all means, but love yourself as you are.
In my next post, I will give an overview of the best natural remedies for cold and flu I have come across over the years, including the very old ones from Russia. Do keep checking my blog!
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