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Do You Need to Boost Your Immune System?

Updated on August 5, 2010

Your Immune System

Your immune system is your defense, your army- it attacks invaders and what it perceives to be a threat. I'm not getting too scientific because I have a much more important message to deliver than a science lesson. Your immune response can be as simple as a scrape being healed on your arm or can be as complicated as your own immune system attacking itself.

Yes, your immune system can attack your own body and this happens to the millions of sufferers with autoimmune illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Lupus. Maybe you thought those autoimmune illnesses were due to a weak immune system and you couldn't be more wrong- they are due to a hyper, over-active immune system. The medications prescribed for these illnesses are immune suppressants- immune boosters would wreak havoc on someone with, for example Rheumatoid Arthritis.There is some speculation that the reason many healthy individuals suddenly get an illness, such as the ones mentioned above, is because they were not exposed to enough germs to have a normal immune system.

Knowing this, how do you feel about boosting your immunity? What do you think of the many products that promote immune boosting and superior immune functioning as their selling point? A popular smoothie shop offers to add an immune boost to your drink, even the yogurt aisle draws you in by taking an immune boosting challenge. I bet you might find one other hub article, maybe, about the ill effects of boosting yor immune system compared to hundreds of articles on here giving you advice on how to boost your immune system. The more we see it the more we think we need it.

In reality, our bodies, including our immune systems, have evolved in such a way to naturally protect us. It is interesting that each time a scary epidemic virus makes news, we see a dramatic rise in products geared to make money from that fear. These claims of boosting immunity are only claims. We have the right idea about gearing ourselves toward prevention, but even this is causing some negative side effects. Boosting your immune system can actually increase the inflammation response in your body. Heart disease is just one of so many outcomes of increased inflammation.

We are finally figuring out that washing our hands with anitbacterial soap can cause more harm, or ingesting too much of an immune boosting nutrient can cause other diseases, and this all makes sense because why fix something that isn't broken. If you get a cold a few times a year, that is actually better for your health than avoiding germs and colds altogether. Just because you get a cold doesn't mean you are unhealthy. One piece of proof for this is children who attend daycare and/or get more colds before starting school, have less colds during their school years.


Homeostasis vs. Immune Boosting

What we are really striving for is homeostasis- that is our body's function and desire. No boosting required. What is adequate for our bodies? Simple, hype-and-unsupported-claim-less ways to have a healthy immune system are getting good sleep and rest, fiber, healthy food, drink more water, exercise, and stress reduction. On the note of exercise; it is an example of something that keeps our immune system healthy but too much of it starts creating a negative effect on the body.

There is one thing that has been proven to boost immunity and that is vaccinations. I don't want to start a debate over them, but backed by scientific proof, it is the only thing to boost immuntiy and have superior defenses specific for what the vaccination is intended for. For those of you against vaccinations think of how harmful products that aren't proven can be for one's health. Every immune-boosting product you see on the shelf is not proven, yet vaccinations and that concept of controlled exposure is.

Maybe instead of "boosting" we should concentrate on "avoiding" such immune depressors like stress, sugar, over-use of antibiotics and other medications, and environmental pollutants. What's interesting to me is I've witnessed people making excuses for taking immune boosting supplements because they have a high stress life. They think they are being preventative, but the better option is to look at what and why their lifestyle is so high-stress, perhaps meditation would be a healthier option if you can't avoid stress. Also, think of it this way- if you do not give yourself a break from stress, your body will do it for you- it will create ill health to slow you down.


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    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      mollymiigwan~ thanks for stopping by. This is an important topic to become informed about- glad I could help.

    • MollyMiigwan profile image

      MollyMiigwan 7 years ago from Naples

      Great read-- I haven't encountered an idea like this, so thank you for writing an article to further my education about boosting my immune system!

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      granny's house~ good for your daughter. Kids little systems can conquer a cold better than handling many medications. Yep I'm old-fashioned and give my daughter the Vick's rub, kleenexes, and love.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Great hub. My daughter won't give her little any meds. If she has a cold she lets it run its course

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Jackie~ all I got to say is ditto. You make great points too- I totally agree.

    • profile image

      Jackie from Derby UK 7 years ago

      I totally agree with you, Izetti. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I particularly hate the fact that it's hard to buy cleaning (body, clothes, household) that aren't anti-bacterial.

      Kids are really losing out through parents' paranoia, both on the immune system front, and by being made to feel scared of the wonderful world out there. They need to grow and learn the confidence that comes from tangling with the world and what it holds, and working out how to get through difficulties, not being supervised and controlled and cleaned to death.

      Rant over!

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      christoph reilly~ You are so ight about the bandaid versus air drying. You say it better than me about why vaccinations work, but that's the idea exactly. We don't apply that mentality in other health aspects of our life- we're always trying to avoid culprits and wash hand excessively, etc. People get excited about the latest product from another country that's been known to be beneficial in that country for hundreds of years, most recenly "Kombucha", and in reality the people of that country have different immune systems than us because of different exposure to things so the product may either be ineffective or even harmful.

      tmwnp~ i grew up with excessive handwashing (germ freak parents) and now I do reading about autoimmune illnesses actually being more prominent because we are exposing ourselves less to good old fashioned germs and dirt. I'd be sick in the hospital for days if I lived one day in the life of a street/homeless person. I'd be sick off their first meal for sure.

      thanks for comments guys!

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 7 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      I wash my hands after going to the rest room, before eating and such, but I know people who are excessive about it. I've always pointed out that street people never get sick. They eat out of the trash and never wash their hands. (or at least not very often) True they die of kidney disease, drug over dose, exposure and such, but they never get a cold.

      You did some good research and put together a very informative hub here. Great job. Thumbs up!

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

      Great info Izetti. Your example of vaccinations is perfect, since vaccinations work by injecting you with the culprit it is meant to protect you from, so your body can build up your natural defenses against it. Another example is while it may be advisable to cover and protect a small would in the beginning, eventually it's better to give it some air, so your body can begin to defense against the things in the air and dry itself out. It will heal faster. I don't know what a doctor would say about that, but that's grandma medicine, which after all has worked for hundreds of years.

    • boyjyoti profile image

      boyjyoti 7 years ago

      Last one is the key. Meditation is your ace card.

      One the funnier side, if you get your immune system to harm yourself is like a footballer doing a 'self-goal'.

      My dad used to tell me that 'excess of anything is bad' and I learn here is that your immune system is no exception.

      I think the immunity is better left to the nature and so nothing to 'boost it' but at the same time do not destroy it either (I actually wonder you can do it!). Maintain cleanliness and no antiseptics etc are ever needed.

      Healthier and fuller diet is also the key. Don't overdo it either. Suppliments unless prescribed by a physician are a strict no-no.

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      kamran100~ thank you for stopping by and leaving a nice comment. I am constantly amazed by how much immune boosting products are available and it sounds like it would be a good thing. I just want the information to be out there.