WHILE the Cancer Association of Namibia will not have public days and campaigns for cancer week this year due to Covid-19, they will through different media platforms place focus on the importance of the human immune system and here are tips for you;
What is the immune system?
The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection by attacking germs, protecting against harmful substances and fighting cell changes so that we can stay as healthy as possible. The main parts of the immune system are the white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow.
What are 5 signs of a weak immune system?
1) Frequent and recurrent colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections.
2) Chronic Inflammation and infection of internal organs.
3) Blood disorders such as low platelet counts or anaemia, wounds healing slowly.
4) Digestive problems such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea and chronic diarrhoea.
5) Delayed growth and development.
Can I damage my immune system?
Let’s look at the 5 most common and unsuspecting ways we are weakening our immune system without often knowing:
1) Inactivity! Too much sitting for long periods of time has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and early death. Regular exercise, movement and fresh air is highly recommended.
2) Overtraining! Exercising regularly is great for your overall health and your immune system; but overexerting the body places strain on your system and creates an imbalance that may become dangerous.
3) Poor Stress Management. Stress in terms of pressure to perform or execute tasks in lower, regular levels is normal. However, chronic stress, poor management thereof, lack of rest, relaxation and exercise turns tension highly toxic!
4) Excessive alcohol intake and tobacco use are both scientifically linked to various non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular, hypertension, obesity, cancer, diabetes and mental health issues, in addition to directly affect the immune system (tired, lethargic, easy to get colds and flu, etc).
5) Sleep deprivation remains a problem globally as we move to an ever-speeding society of “more to do, less time to do it”. Our body (including immune system) needs rest and recuperate to rebuild cells and heal itself.
How can I boost my immune system?
1) Do not smoke or use tobacco products.
2) Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
3) Eat a diet that is high in fibre, fruits and vegetables.
4) Drink enough clean water (at least 6-8 large glasses a day).
5) Exercise regularly.
6) Maintain a healthy weight.
7) Get adequate sleep and mental rest.
8) Try to minimise stress.
9) Take steps to avoid infections such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
10) Prevent immune compromising diseases (HIV, HPV, HBV) by smarter lifestyle choices (safe sex), get vaccinated or staying on treatments if infected.
– Source: Cancer Association of Namibia