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We take our immune system for granted, unless it fails us and we get sick. Some of us may try to strengthen our immune system when cold and flu season arrives. However, for the most part, we don’t pay attention to it until it is too late and we start to cough and sneeze.

The immune system is complex, but as with many systems in the body, it is directly influenced by what we eat and don?t eat. Other important lifestyle factors come into play as well, such as maintain a healthy weight, exercising, getting enough sleep and avoiding stress. But if you are like most people reading this guide now, chances are that you are falling down in all five areas.

While we can’t do much about your weight, physical activity, sleep patterns, and healthy ways to relieve stress, we CAN offer you some helpful advice on how to boost your immune system through smarter food choices in order to avoid illness both short- and long-term.

Once you start to take control of your health, you should soon see a difference in the way you look and feel, and hopefully that will encourage you to more to boost your immunity and take better care of your health.

So let?s get started with first understanding the immune system in the body and its role in preventing illness.

How Does My Immune System Work?

The immune system defends your body from viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. The immune system is complex, and made up of several key components:

  • special cells
  • proteins
  • tissues in the body
  • organs

When the immune system is functioning properly, it helps ward off illness. If it is not functioning properly, you may experience infection, illness, and perhaps even chronic illness.

The immune system defends the body though the immune response, which is a series of steps triggered if the system senses an unwanted intruder. Several different cells go into action during the immune response. They are white blood cells, also known as leukocytes (pronounced: LOO-co-SITES), pictured above courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.