In general, every human being is born with immune system, and that’s why we are able to survive the health challenges of childhood and grow into healthy adults. That said, experts also note that there are individuals that are born without immune system and such individuals must undergo certain medical procedures, including bone marrow transplant, if only to be able to live normal lives that a good immune system confers.
World-acclaimed virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, warns that infection with certain viruses such as the one that causes the Ebola disease or the type that causes HIV, is dangerous because the infecting virus actually attacks immune cells, and so can destroy the immune system.
When this happens, it can make the victim develop symptoms that are sometimes seen in those that were born without immune systems. This is what makes it such a devastating attack and why it is so important to see the doctor without any delay.
General Practitioner, Dr. Ismail Oluwadare, notes that under normal circumstances, a person’s immune system regularly battles infections to a standstill in order to keep the individual going and healthy.
He, however, notes that because some people are able to beat certain illnesses or infections that otherwise may incapacitate others, they may take their immune system for granted, weaken it through unhealthy dietary habit and other unwholesome activities.
When this happens, Oluwadare warns, “You would have laid yourself bare for infectious diseases, which may result in death if care is not taken.”
He mentions the Ebola Virus Disease as an example, saying the difference between those who die and those who survive is attributable to the fact that the survivors not only presented early to be treated, their strong immune system also worked for them.
Strengthen your immunity
Physicians are of the opinion that we don’t have to wait for infectious diseases to knock us out before we start working on our immunity. If you have a strong immune system, don’t take it for granted. Rather, Oluwadare counsels, boost it daily.
How can we achieve this onerous task? This way…
Eat balanced diet
Consultant nutritionist, Dr. Simeon Oladimeji, says one proven way to strengthen your immunity is to eat balanced diet on a daily basis, avoid smoking and alcohol.
He says, “You can’t beat good diet. Whether you’re well, up and about; or whether you’re ill and convalescing, your diet can determine the outcome.
“In general, the immune system relies so much on the body’s resources to function optimally. Once the essential nutrients are lacking, trouble is bound to erupt. And that’s why you find all sorts of diseases and sometimes rare infections among the undernourished.
“For such people, any little infection will weigh them down; and they can also die of illnesses that they should otherwise survive if they had strong immune system. So, I advise people to eat balanced diet in order to stay healthy.”
Ironically, when people hear of balanced diet, they may think it’s unaffordable. Oladimeji says all our local foods are rich enough to keep us disease-free if we eat them in good quantity, and also when we combine them reasonably. “Balanced diet does not have to cost a fortune,” he submits.
Physicians agree that stress can affect the ways our immune system functions. They say when stress gets to a point, it could suppress the immune. And that is why you see people with otherwise healthy skin breaking out in pimples when their stress level is high,” Oluwadare notes.
Say ‘no’ to depression
The physician adds that in clinical studies, depressed individuals have been known to experience suppressed immunity. “This is because their nervous system can directly interact with their immune cells, wreaking havoc all the way because of their depressed state of mind,” the doctor enthuses.
He counsels that an individual can beat stress and improve mood by engaging in moderate physical exercise at least 30 minutes a day, thrice a week.
Physicians say one way to stay disease-free is to take deliberate steps to avoid infection. It goes without saying that the reality of the Ebola Virus Disease has brought into national consciousness the need to keep our hands clean all the time.
This is very easy to achieve by simply washing hands each time you use the bathroom, have a handshake, return from an outing, and before you touch food.
Oluwadare says you can only get to know how dirty the hands could be each time you wash up. He notes that if you wash your hands 20 times in a day, you will discover that the water is dirty and you need to rinse thoroughly each time.
“What this means is that most infections are transmitted through the hands because they are what we use to do everything, such as cleaning up, cooking, touching etc.
Oladimeji adds that we should also cook all raw meats thoroughly because they can be sources of infection, especially because we don’t know how the meats have been handled before they get to our kitchen!
Mind your age
Researchers say that as we age, our immune system also gets some bashing due to decades of hard work it has had to do, protecting us from the elements. “That is why autoimmune disorders are very common among the aged,” Oluwadare says.
He notes further that cancer, pneumonia, flu, infectious endocarditis (inflammation of the inner tissue of the heart) and tetanus are more common among the aged because of lowered immune system.
He counsels people over age 40 to regularly undergo medical screening tests.