Start early: Boost your immune system


    With the start of a new semester at The University of Southern Mississippi, there are a lot of opportunities for illness to be spread around campus.

    From improper hygiene habits to classes of 80 or more students together in a cramped room, it is not surprising to see many students falling ill.  Fortunately, though, there are a great many ways students can improve the function of their immune systems and avoid common illnesses.

    “Working out is a good (way),” said Miriam Adamson, a freshman music education major.  “(Drinking) lots of water is going to help you, and they say that eating apples helps, too,” Adamson said.

    “Drink orange juice,” said Aaron Smith, a junior business financing major, “and try to eat right.  Also, wash your hands,” Smith said.

    While Adamson and Smith are indeed right, there are many other, lesser-known ways to boost one’s immune system.

    One should be aware of activities and practices that aid the contraction of illness.  First and foremost, stress is one of the worst things for one’s body.  While as college students it is impossible to cut out all stress, it is important to remain as stress-free as possible.

    According to Harvard Health Publications, in a study conducted on laboratory mice, the mice that experienced consistent social stress – simulated by prolonged contact with aggressive mice not resulting in injury – were twice as likely to die from exposure to a bacterial toxin than those exposed to simple physical stress, such as going without food or water.

    Another factor to consider is diet and exercise.

    Malnutrition in general has been correlationally linked to the contraction of infectious disease, but so have simple vitamin deficiencies common in those who do not maintain a proper diet.  Vitamins to look for include Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, D, E and zinc, according to Harvard Health Publications.

    Deficiencies in any of these vitamins may suppress immune function through a variety of methods.  One should, however, be careful not to overindulge in these vitamins, as too high of a concentration can disrupt immune responses.  While frequent moderate exercise has been linked to a healthy lifestyle overall, there is no proven link as of yet between the amount of exercise one undergoes and the body’s immune response.

    As far as simple ways to boost one’s immune system, there are a number of ways that students can do so without impeding on their class and work schedules.

    While no pure causal link has been noted yet, the consumption of garlic has been correlationally linked to improving the body’s immune response concerning infectious disease.  In addition, there is an established correlational link between the consumption of garlic and a lower likelihood of developing certain cancers.

    Another way to boost the immune system is to ensure adequate sleep.  On average, the adult human body needs six to 10 hours of sleep per night, with the golden number being eight hours.

    While there will always be the presence of infectious disease in densely populated areas such as college campuses, there are ways students and faculty can prevent the common cold and strep throat. Remember to practice good hygiene and stay home if ill, but above all, remember balance in one’s life is the key to a healthy immune system and wholesome lifestyle.