Ways to Tell If Your Immune System Is Strong

How strong is your immune system? If your initial thought is an iteration of: UH, I’m not sure, you’re definitely not alone. It can be difficult to know how well your body’s natural defenses work—unless you get sick.

According to our Director of Scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph. D., RDN, on the mindbodygreen podcast, some quick tests can help give you an insight. Below, she explains exactly how to know if your immune system is in peak shape:

1. Complete blood count.

“A complete blood count (CBC) would certainly be [your] reference No. 1 to see if there is a malfunction with one of your main classes of immune cells,” Ferira explains. Although this test measures all the different properties of your blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin and hematocrit, the part of white blood cells can be very revealing: different types of white blood cells (such as neutrophils, lymphocytes, basophils, etc.) can illuminate your immune response.

“We know, for example, that neutrophils increase when you have an infection.”That is, a CBC test can be able to highlight these different answers and offer information.

2. Metabolic health markers and inflammation.

“Metabolic health and inflammation-these mechanisms go hand in hand with immunity,” Ferira continues. This is a topic that we discussed in detail here at mbg: Immunity and metabolic health are closely linked because your immune system acts as a sensor of your metabolic state.

This is the reason why Ferira suggests checking the markers of metabolic health – you know waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids and some others that you can find here.

“In the area of inflammation, [testing] things like C-reactive protein,” ” he adds, as well as serum ferritin and D-dimer; these unique laboratories may be able to signal their inflammatory response.*

3. Vitamin D status.

Then Ferira extols the importance of nutritional status. Namely vitamin D levels: we probably don’t need to remind you of the link in the middle of vitamin D and immunity* (fat-soluble vitamin and hormone play an important role in immune function; see here for a practical guide), and Ferira says a 25-hydroxyvitamine D blood test can assess your levels.

“It’s the biomarker for your vitamin D status,” she notes. “If you don’t know your baseline, I encourage you to do a serum test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.”

4. Vitamin C levels.

A less commonly tested—but still significant-measurement would be your vitamin C levels.”it’s an ascorbic acid level in the plasma,” says Ferira. As you may know, vitamin C plays an important role in immunity: more precisely, it promotes the multiplication of lymphocytes (remember, it is a kind of white blood cells) to action foreign invaders in the body.

* Vitamin C also helps neutrophils (another white blood cell, which we have already mentioned) to” eat ” and finish bad microbes.*

5. Zinc levels.

Finally, we have zinc: the trace element is crucial for the development and function of many immune cells in their innate reactions (neutrophils, macrophages and natural killer cells) and adaptive immune cells (B cells and T cells).* To test your natural zinc level, Ferira recommends a serum test.

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