7 Fun Facts About the Immune System + Micro Habits to Support Immunity

| WRITTEN BY: Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

I’m delighted to have partnered with Tropicana on this blog post. All opinions are my own.

These fun facts about the immune system can help support immunity and overall health and inspire new micro habits.

As the fall and winter months are ahead, your immune system deserves to take center stage. There are many habits you can start focusing on now that can impact your health this holiday season and beyond.

Each of these seven fun facts about the immune system can also serve as a guideline for key areas to focus on. As a registered dietitian, one of the tools I use repeatedly is incorporating micro habits for behavior change. These small, simple everyday habits can steer you toward big results. So, each of these fun facts will include an example of micro habits to try as well.

Hint: A micro habit can be as simple as drinking a glass of Tropicana Light in the morning. Made with juice from sun-ripened oranges and no artificial sweeteners, each glass is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, but with 50% less sugar and 50% less calories* than regular orange juice.

*not a low-calorie food; see package for nutrition information.

A Closer Look at the Immune System

The immune system serves as the body’s defense mechanism with an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs. They work tirelessly to protect you from harmful invaders. This system acts as a shield against bacteria, viruses, and more. This is why it’s so important to keep your immune system strong.

You are born with your innate immune system, which serves as the first line of defense against pathogens and other germs. Your adaptive immune system builds up over time as your body encounters new pathogens. It remembers past invaders and can launch a tailored attack against it to keep you safe.

Micro Habits and Their Impact

Micro habits are tiny, everyday habits that steer you towards significant results. You can use them to create good habits or to stop bad habits—in this case, let’s explore good habits to boost immunity.

Micro habits work because:

  • They are easy – it’s hard to make excuses not to do them.
  • They aren’t time-consuming – they’re simple to incorporate into your life.
  • They aren’t daunting – they’re quick wins to keep you motivated.
  • They are easy to tweak and adjust over time if they aren’t working.

One of the ultimate goals of creating micro habits is that they stick and slowly build on one another to develop long-lasting, health-promoting behavior change.

 7 Fun Facts About the Immune System

Here are fun facts and how to incorporate micro habits to support your immune system as the fall and winter season approaches.

Fact #1: Food diversity can support the immune system.

Consuming a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables ensures you get a wide array of vitamins and minerals, strengthening your immune system’s defense mechanisms. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc are some key players in immune health. This is one of the reasons why Tropicana’s orange juice beverage Tropicana Light, a relaunch of its Trop50 offering, is perfect timing with immunity season just around the corner.

Tropicana Light is made from sun-ripened oranges, contains no artificial sweeteners, and comes in a variety of offerings including:

  • Tropicana Light No Pulp Calcium + Vitamin D contains 4 vitamins and minerals and gives you 25% of your recommended daily value of calcium—that’s more than in a glass of milk.
  • Tropicana Light Vitamin C + Zinc offers three times the vitamin C of regular orange juice for a nutrient boost.

Micro habit example: Enjoy these Orange Breakfast Muffins with Orange-Infused Glaze for breakfast a few times a week, which include an array of immune-supporting ingredients, including the Tropicana Light orange juice beverage, carrots, banana, flaxseeds, ginger, and cinnamon.

Fact #2: Stress can suppress the immune system.

Persistent stress over time can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and worsened symptoms of disease. Research has shown that this comes into play with psychological and physical illnesses.

High levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can also impair the function of immune cells, leaving the body more vulnerable. Finding effective stress management techniques is essential for maintaining robust immunity and overall health. 

Micro habit example: Schedule 10 minutes of breathing or a guided meditation before your morning coffee or tea.

Fact #3: An imbalance in the gut microbiota can compromise immune function.

Did you know that 70-80% of the immune cells are in the gut? The human gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota. These microbes play a fundamental role in digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and maintaining a balanced immune response.

A diverse and well-balanced gut microbiota supports the immune system by regulating the production of antibodies, promoting the development of immune cells, and preventing the overgrowth of harmful pathogens. Nurture a healthy gut through a balanced diet rich in fiber, fermented foods, and prebiotics. 

Micro habit example: Include at least two plant-based foods at lunch to increase fiber (e.g., leafy greens in a salad with an apple on the side).

Fact #4: Staying hydrated supports immune function.

Prioritizing hydration is vital for the proper functioning of your immune system. When it comes to immunity, staying hydrated is crucial for several reasons:

  • It helps transport oxygen and nutrients to cells.
  • It supports the production and circulation of lymph, a fluid that carries essential immune cells throughout the body.
  • It supports the elimination of toxins and waste products from the body.

All fluids contribute to overall hydration, which is why in addition to water, including no sugar added teas, and even hydrating fruits and vegetables (e.g., oranges, cucumbers, grapes, and watermelon) are key to supporting a healthy immune system.

Micro habit example: Drink 1 cup of water at every meal and snack during the day.

Fact #5:  Regular movement improves your immune system’s defense activity.

Regular physical activity not only helps you stay fit, it also supports your immune system. Movement promotes healthy circulation, can have an anti-inflammatory effect, and improves defense activity.

Whether movement is spent indoors, or enjoyed as a brisk walk or bike ride outside, both can benefit your health. The key is not to overdo it, as too much strenuous activity can have the opposite effect on your immune system over time.

Micro habit example: Commit to 10 minutes of body-weight activities (e.g., core workout, yoga, or Pilates) each day before breakfast.

regular movement for immune system health

Fact #6: Quality sleep strengthens your immune health.

Humans spend about one-third of their lives sleeping. So, sleep health can’t be overlooked! Your body produces and releases cytokines when you sleep, which are proteins released by cells. Anti-inflammatory cytokines can help fight infection and inflammation.

Studies show that a consistent lack of sleep can increase the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases. This is why it is important to target the recommended hours of sleep each night and to optimize your quality of sleep.

Micro habit example: Avoid screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime and replace with a calming activity you love (e.g., reading a book, taking a warm bath, or enjoying a cup of tea with relaxing music).

Fact #7: Positive social interactions support your overall health and immune system.

Maintaining strong social connections and friendships can have a positive impact on your immune health. Meaningful social interactions reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Research shows it may have this positive impact by influencing inflammatory and antiviral processes.

Micro habit example: Schedule a reminder into your calendar to text or send a voice note to a friend or family member once a week.

Getting Started with Micro Habits for Immune Health

A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, quality sleep, stress management, and positive social connections significantly contributes to the overall strength of your immune system. This can keep you resilient and ready to tackle the challenges of the workplace, your personal life, and beyond.

When things get busy or overwhelming, remember to simplify your daily approach with micro habits. Drinking the Tropicana Light orange juice beverage in the morning can be an easy first step to help support your immune system. Tropicana Light retails for $4.79 and is available in a 52oz bottle at national retailers including Albertsons, Publix, Wegmans, and more.

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