Immune Fitness for Viral Survival
What’s your immune fitness? Is your adaptive immunity robust enough to rise above an infection, stronger than before? Although you may not know your capability for viral survival, sound principles of health give you a powerful offense.
Exposure is Inevitable
Viruses are ubiquitous and everlasting. As the most numerous biological entity on the planet, they affect all lifeforms. Because there are millions of kinds of viruses, they appear in plants, insects, animals, and humans alike, transferring between hosts via sap, blood, mucus, or feces. Ironically, viruses technically aren’t a life form themselves. They don’t breathe (respirate), grow, or have their own metabolism (breakdown of food to create energy). In fact, without a host, they are inactive, inert, and non-responsive.
However, there is no such thing as life without viral exposure. Even babies face a constant challenge to their immune systems. But that’s the beauty of it! Your immune fitness requires opposition to strengthen it. Viral exposure is like athletic training. No one aggressively sprints uphill well without practice. Many hill climbs condition you to respond powerfully without collapsing. Similarly, each virus you encounter trains your immune system to recognize a threat and to launch an assertive antibody response.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Your immune fitness is a work in progress. When a viral threat confronts your body, your innate immune system – with its macrophages, T cells and killer cells – is like a crew of paramedics. These First Responders assess the situation and call appropriate back-ups. For instance, they might need a neurosurgeon, or perhaps a thoracic specialist. Likewise, the innate immune system rallies the B cells to form antibodies for the particular germ you are facing.
But here’s the clincher: You develop this adaptive immunity only after a successful first innate response. If nothing ever provoked your innate immunity, you would never develop any resistance. Thus, exposure primes your immune fitness. This is the principle behind vaccines.
Make Broad, Balanced Choices for Viral Survival
Another truth is that you cannot restore immune fitness during times of stress. Your body switches into a sympathetic response, known as fight-or-flight, when challenged. This state dilates your eyes, speeds your pulse, increases your respiration rate, raises your blood pressure, and heightens your muscle tension. However, your immune system only replenishes itself during times of rest and relaxation. It requires more nutrients than any other system in your body. But what body will prioritize digestion or sleep when running from the Boogey Man?
Therefore, immune fitness is more than minimizing infection. It is maximizing food nutrients as well as emotional, social, and other lifestyle nutrients. It is prioritizing true health, over just absence of disease.
Develop Immune Fitness
Doritos and Mountain Dew don’t contain the slew of minerals your immune system hogs. The nightly news doesn’t engage your parasympathetic, calm-and-connection nervous system response. You must make deliberate choices to gear up your nutrition and gear down your worry. You develop immune fitness that enhances your viral survival with these tactics:
- Chill! For real. Being in a reactive state of worry or fear activates your fight-or-flight system in the body and suppresses immunity. Deliberately stop frequently to breathe deeply, exercise faith, and know that you will get through this. Focus on hope, gratitude and laughter.
- Engage! Seize the moment to strengthen relationships in precious, sacred ways. Personal connections raise oxytocin, lower cortisol, and put the nervous system in a state that supports immunity.
- Take the Pill of Common Sense. Your body functions best with deep sleep, nutrient-dense food, and frequent movement. Freaking out, losing sleep, eating junk food, and vegging in front of a screen does not support wellness.