Healthy immune systems protect us

Gwen Randall-Young

I have often written about the importance of self-care, physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
After going on three years of Covid, I have not seen an explanation of why, among the unvaccinated and vaccinated, some people got sick from the virus and others did not. In one family I know of, the father and young adult son got the disease, while the mother and daughter did not, despite living in close quarters.
Why is it that some people succumb to whatever the current cold or flu virus happens to be, while others seem escape? It is not simply a matter of who is exposed, as not every child in the class will become sick, nor will every member of the family always come down with the same symptoms.
At the simplest level, it may have to do with basic precautions, such as scrupulously washing hands, and, in the case of Covid, masking and physical distancing. These practices drastically reduced any spread of seasonal flu viruses.
The most important factor, however, is the strength of our immune system. A weakened immune system simply does not have the ability to defend the body from either external or internal threats to health. The reason the elderly are at more risk is because as we age, the immune system weakens.
Some individuals seem blessed with a naturally strong immune system, but there are many things we can do to strengthen our own. Good nutrition, plenty of rest, and exercise are key components. Avoiding products devoid of nutrition or those containing elements that harmful, such as white flour, sugar, excess fat, and various additives makes for a healthier system. It goes without saying that avoiding nicotine, and using alcohol in moderation are wise choices.
Another element that is toxic to our immune system is stress. There are many kinds of stress, and all, over time, will wear us down. Stress causes the body to release harmful substances, and has been scientifically proven to suppress the immune system. T-cells are part of the immune system. Their job is to take out cancer cells so that cancer cannot take root in the body. A strong immune system is like health care insurance!
The most harmful form of stress is emotional stress. We can handle a lot of the ordinary stress of living; keeping the children organized, getting reports done on time, if we are happy with our lives.
Happiness is a buffer for stress, and positive experiences have been shown to strengthen the immune system. However, if we are continually sad, feeling isolated, in conflict, or walking on eggshells, our immune systems will be compromised.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that in our language, we speak in terms of being ‘sick of’ ongoing, difficult situations. Anything you are “sick of” could end up making you sick.
With medical researchers describing ‘superbugs’ and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we would all be wise to ‘upgrade’ our immune systems, and for many, that might mean a major lifestyle change. That is a good thing, and may protect us from more than just viruses!