Immune retune: Recharging your body's natural defences
"ACHOO!" A sniffling friend is sneezing just inches away. You would love to cover your face or run away, but in the interests of politeness all you can do is try not to inhale in their direction and hope your immune system is on the case.Some people seem to catch everything that is doing the rounds, from coughs and colds to stomach bugs. Other people never seem to get ill. What's their secret?A lot is down to dumb luck. There are some things affecting the performance of your immune system that you cannot change: your age, your gender, your genes, and most importantly, whether or not you have had a previous brush with an invading bug.But there are plenty of factors you can control. I'm not talking about downing supplements sold as "immune boosters"; the claims for most such pills are not based on hard evidence. But there are plenty of other ways you can keep your immune system revved up and raring to go.It's not all about boosting activity, though. Many common conditions are caused by the immune system reacting to things it shouldn't. When it attacks parts of the body the result is autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. When it responds to molecules that are foreign but harmless, like those from pollen or peanuts, the result is asthma, eczema or allergies. Again, there are ways of encouraging your immune system to behave. So help it out by following these tips.