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Do teachers have a better Immune System than other Professionals?

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Do Teachers Have a Better Immune System Than Other Professionals?

Teaching is regarded as one of the germiest professions on the planet. With the constant exposure to numerous kinds of disease-causing pathogens, it’s natural to think that teachers develop a more robust immune system than other professionals. But is that true?

Teachers generally have a better immune system than other professionals. Studies show that constant exposure to pathogens strengthens an immune system and fights future related infections. That’s why most teachers feel less sick after remaining in the same school for an extended time.

Immunity is a treasure to any human. In this article, you’ll find out more about a teacher’s immune system and get tips on how to develop a stronger immune system within a teaching environment. 

Do Teachers Have Stronger Immune Systems?

The study of immune systems is very complicated since there is genetics to consider and lifestyles to compare. However, several teachers’ health experiences show that, even though they’re exposed to pathogens daily, they overcome sickness more quickly because of their developed resilience.

After ruling out genetics, which may introduce inconsistencies in how different teachers respond to different illnesses, you can recognise what makes you more immune than other professionals.

Teachers can credit their resilient immune systems to three factors:

1. Repeated Exposure to Similar Pathogens

The hygiene hypothesis states that repeated exposure to pathogens develops a child’s immune system. Many studies conducted on “clean versus dirty” demographics reveal that this hypothesis is correct; however, scientists haven’t discovered the underlying mechanisms.

Although teachers aren’t children with immune systems developing from scratch, their immune systems are still developing. Moreover, many teachers report being prone to getting sick before they began teaching but rarely getting sick after. 

This, of course, is true for similar pathogenic environments only. For instance, if a teacher transfers from one school to another, they meet another set of pathogens they have to adapt to.

Also, if a teacher starts teaching a different class in the same school, they develop illnesses more often than usual before they develop resistance.

These conclusions are deducted from teachers’ testimonials. They show that teachers likely have a more robust immune system than other professionals.

If they didn’t, they’d get sick often because of consistent exposure to several pathogens.

(Sources: US National Library of Medicine, The New England Journal of Medicine, Wedding Bee, Nature International Journal of Science

2. Time for Developing Resistance

Teachers rarely develop immunity within a week in a particular school. It takes time for different people due to a myriad of factors. Some teachers say it only takes a year while others say it took them more than five years to stop getting sick regularly.

The rate of developing resistance depends on the type and number of pathogens in a specific school compared to your experience.

If you switch from a public school to a private, more health-conscious school, chances are, you won’t acquire sickness as much as you used to. Every teacher’s experience will depend on their general well-being, as well.

3. Healthy Lifestyle

Your lifestyle is another influence on your immune response to the threats you encounter in a school. Everything from the amount of water you drink to the amount of exercise you do impacts your immune system.

When preschool teachers were interviewed for InStyle magazine, they talked about the various tactics they use to keep sicknesses away. Some said that they drink a lot of orange juice daily, others use immune system boosting supplements, and so forth. 

Immune systems are deeply connected with a person’s well-being, both mentally and physically.

Things like stress contribute to a suppressed immune system and make people vulnerable to infections. Therefore, you have to take care of your mental health so you can strengthen your immunity. 

(Sources: Healthline, InStyle)

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How You Can Strengthen Your Immune System

Even though you have little control over what pathogens your students bring to class, you have control over the defence you can build against them.

Here are 6 immune-boosting tactics you can use:

1. Eat Well

Some foods are better at strengthening immunity than others. While maintaining a balanced diet, you need to focus on these protective foods so you can minimise your chance of getting sick.

Vitamins and minerals that boost disease resistance include:

  • Beta-carotene: Excellent antioxidant
  • Vitamin C and E: Great antioxidants
  • Vitamin D: Good for viral infections and overall immunity
  • Zinc: Promotes wound healing and efficient metabolism

You can get these immune boosters from:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli
  • Red bell peppers
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Leafy greens
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Turmeric
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Papaya
  • Carrots
  • Green tea
  • Yoghurt 

(Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Healthline)

You don’t have to be obsessive about the foods you eat.

You can choose some foods that you can be consistent with for the rest of your life, like the preschool teacher who drinks orange juice daily. If, for instance, you choose ginger, you can intentionally use it every day in most of your recipes.

2. Hydrate More

A hydrated body is difficult to attack.

Eight glasses of water per day are the recommended amount. However, water volume needs differ for different people because of factors like weight and exercise intensity. So, there’s no cookie-cutter amount you have to follow religiously.

However, you’ll know you’re adequately hydrated if:

  • Your urine is light yellow or colourless
  • You aren’t feeling thirsty

(Sources: MayoClinic)

Here are some tips to keep you hydrated:

  • Drink water when you wake up in the morning.
  • Drink water whenever you are thirsty.
  • When you feel hungry, first drink water.
  • Carry a water bottle with you daily.
  • Drink water before and after exercising.
  • Drink other healthy beverages such as juice, milk, and tea.
  • Drink water according to your chosen schedule.
  • Flavor your water with lemon juice or other alternatives.
  • Consume lots of fruits.

(Sources: Ecowatch, Family Doctor)

3. Stay Active

Physical activity promotes immunity in various ways.

Most of the benefits of exercise for immunity have been observed, but the mechanisms that produce those benefits remain unclear to scientists.

Exercise may influence immunity by:

  • Flushing bacteria out of airways, hence reducing infection chances.
  • Circulating disease-fighting cells (white blood cells) faster to make identification of a threat easier.
  • Increasing body temperature, which inhibits bacterial growth.
  • Slowing down the release of stress hormones.

(Source: MedlinePlus)

Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. You can be active by:

  • Walking 
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Playing any game you like
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Doing yoga or Pilates
  • Bike riding

4. Get Enough Sleep

While sleeping more won’t prevent you from getting sick, sleeping less leaves you vulnerable to sickness. Since your body systems won’t regenerate like they should during rest, the immune system is also affected. 

With insufficient sleep, your body will produce fewer cytokines, which are proteins that target infections.

This leaves you more vulnerable to diseases, and if they come, they’ll affect you adversely. So sleep between 7 and 9 hours each day for good health.

(Sources: Harvard Medical School, Sleep Foundation)

5. Take Care of Your Mental Health

As mentioned earlier, too much stress isn’t good for your health. It reduces the infection-fighting capabilities of the immune system. Some stress is normal and can help the immune system by releasing cortisol to limit inflammation. 

However, once the cortisol levels are too high for too long, the number of white blood cells reduces, thus diminishing protection.

You should practice stress-releasing activities. It could be as simple as talking to someone, petting your dog, or even working on a passion project.

If you’re healthy mentally, you enable the immune system to work optimally.

(Sources: Cleveland Clinic)

6. Medicate Properly

Talk to your doctor about your medical options. If you need a flu shot, take it for protection. Any common infection that may require you to be vaccinated should be taken seriously. Moreover, you can use immune boosters.

Proper medication is one of the ways you can strengthen your immunity.

Closing Thoughts

Teachers generally possess a better immune system than other professionals. The constant exposure to Pathogen-filled institutions helps their bodies battle diseases early to resist them in the future.

However, they also need to follow some immune system boosting habits, so their bodies can always have a surviving chance.

Teacher Immune System FAQs

Why do teachers have a better immune system than other professionals?

A class full of children is a breeding ground for pathogens. Repeated exposure to similar pathogens helps teachers build a very strong immune response (although lifestyle and genetics play a role too).

How can I boost my immune system?

Teachers (or anyone) can help build a strong immune system by eating a balanced healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. They can also; stay hydrated, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep and take care of their mental health.

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Paul Stevens-Fulbrookhttp://teacherofsci.com
Paul Stevens-Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher, writer and education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started teacherofsci.com to help support teachers everywhere with the everyday struggles that they are all faced with, both in the classroom and at home.
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