Sometimes we get sick, but most of the time we can stay healthy in spite of constantly being under attack from a myriad of harmful viruses and bacteria. For that daily miracle, we can thank God, who created our immune system.

The immune system is our front line of defense in an amazing war taking place in our bodies every day. Like a modern army, our immune system is made up of many “soldiers” doing specific jobs. White blood cells search for specific invaders that they have been taught to recognize and destroy. Some cells envelop, some shoot, and others eat invaders. Some white blood cells produce the needed weapons, some command, some police, and some carry messages, but all work together in synchronized harmony to protect us. If we didn’t have these internal soldiers to protect us from the mass of enemy invaders, we wouldn’t survive for long. This is one more proof of God’s design and care of His creation.

Researchers have found that the brain contains messenger molecules that are produced by the immune system, enabling the brain and the immune system to “talk” to each other.

This may help explain why our physical condition is closely related to our mental and emotional state. If we’re happy and free from stress, our immune system is boosted and is better able to fight sickness. Studies have shown that subjects exposed to stress have sharply increased rates of infection. On the other hand, a pleasurable experience a day can keep the doctor away. Positive feelings have been found to have at least three health-enhancing side effects:

  • Enjoyment, even in small doses, can cause an increase in antibodies and thereby boost the body’s protective immune system for hours.
  • Positive feelings also stimulate the spleen, producing an increase in red blood cells and a corresponding increase in the number of cancer-fighting cells. Amazingly, these cells can destroy cancer cells one by one, leaving normal tissue untouched—unlike chemotherapy, which cannot distinguish between normal and malignant cells.
  • Certain types of pleasure also increase the levels of a compound in the body called immunoglobulin A (IgA), which binds to bacteria and triggers the immune system to destroy them. IgA is the first line of defense against colds and flu.

We can help the immune system ward off invaders by living a healthy lifestyle—by eating, sleeping, and exercising right.

What we eat greatly affects our health. Our immune system is a hungry army that needs quality fuel to run well. Give your immune system a boost by decreasing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates and by increasing your intake of garlic, onions, red fruits, red and green vegetables, and live-culture yogurt. These contain natural antibiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—all of which are important to immune system functioning. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids help protect against a long string of diseases.

Researchers found that depriving healthy men of sleep for four hours, from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., caused an average 28% drop in killer cell activity, a key marker of immune-system strength. The levels only returned to normal after a full night’s sleep.

Exercise is another great way to bolster your immune system. There is evidence that people who get a good workout almost daily can add nearly four years to their life spans. Exercise improves sleep, the ability to handle stress, and mental outlook.

And in addition to the big three—eat right, sleep right, and exercise right—laughter, sunshine, melodic music, and giving and receiving love all give us energy and strengthen our immune system.

Sometimes we can’t avoid sickness, but other times ill health is caused by our own carelessness or neglect. Give God and your immune system some cooperation. Take care of your body by making wise lifestyle choices, and you’ll be healthier and live longer.