September 20, 2015
We are surrounded by millions of bacteria, viruses and other microbes (germs) that have the potential to enter our bodies and cause harm. The immune system is the body’s defence against pathogens (disease-causing microbes).
The immune system is made up of non-specialised defences such as skin and the acidic juice produced by your stomach. But it also has some highly specialised defences which give you immunity against (resistance to) particular pathogens. These defences are special white blood cells called lymphocytes. Other types of white blood cells play an important part in defending your body against infection.
The body’s defense system is only as dependable as the support it gets. Some people are just blessed with a good set of genes that ensure a strong immune system. For others who are not as lucky, they must learn how to improve immunity by observing proper nutrition, sufficient rest, a healthy active lifestyle, plenty of sun and reduced stress.
September 19, 2012
Your immune cells can lose some of their protective effects when your body is constantly battling negative health habits such as a poor diet, little sleep, and too much stress. As such, it’s not surprising that doctors frequently recommend certain lifestyle changes as a way to optimize the function of your immune system.
According to the Harvard University, your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
November 30, 2010
Parties, family dinners, and other gatherings where food is served are all part of the holiday cheer. But the merriment can change to misery if food makes you or others ill.
Typical symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.
The symptoms usually are not long-lasting in healthy people—a few hours or a few days—and usually go away without medical treatment. But foodborne illness can be severe and even life-threatening to anyone, especially those most at risk:
- older adults
- infants and young children
- pregnant women
- people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or any condition that weakens their immune systems
- people who take medicines that suppress the immune system; for example, some medicines for rheumatoid arthritis
Combating bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants in our food supply is a high priority for the Food and Drug Administration. But consumers have a role to play, too, especially when it comes to safe food handling practices in the home.
“The good news is that practicing four basic food safety measures can help prevent foodborne illness,” says Marjorie Davidson, a consumer educator at FDA.
In its Holiday Food Safety Success Kit, the Partnership for Food Safety Education recommends:
- Whether it is cooked inside or outside the bird, all stuffing and dressing recipes must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165ºF. For optimum safety, cooking your stuffing in a casserole dish is recommended.
- Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it’s placed in the oven.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using.
- The turkey should be stuffed loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
- Any extra stuffing should be baked in a greased casserole dish.