What: Thymus.

Location: It is made of two lobes that are in front of the trachea.

Function: The thymus produces thymosins, which are hormones that stimulate the development of antibodies. It also produces T-lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that fight infections and destroy abnormal cells. “These T cells are very smart and have memory functions that help to remember the ‘enemies’ (meaning, viruses). This is also how our body builds immunity against the viruses,” says Dr Chong Yeh Woei of Singapore Medical Specialists Centre.

Use: Your thymus gland helps you beat stress, build muscle and boost your immune system.

Boost Your Immune System

To a very large extent, the health of the thymus determines the form of the immune system, Dr Chong says. Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco smoke all impede the function of the thymus by increasing the production of cortisol. This, in turn, impedes the immune system, which leaves you vulnerable to infections. Feel the sniffles coming? Avoid alcohol and coffee, and stay away from areas where people smoke.

Beat Allergies

Thymus hormones reduce the levels of the “allergy antibody” IgE. This helps people plagued by allergies such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and atopic dermatitis. To support the proper function of the thymus gland and beat allergies, eat oily fish such as salmon and tuna. They contain vitamin A, an essential nutrient, as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties that relieve allergies.

Grow Muscles

The thymus has a close working relationship with the pituitary glands, the centre of production for growth hormone and thymus hormones. According to a US study, increasing the number and activity of T cells enables them to secrete growth hormones. Cruciferous vegetables – such as broccoli and cauliflower – have been shown to support thymus function. Steam some and eat them with your chicken breast or steak after a workout.

Beat Stress For Better Thymus Function

An increased production of the stress hormone cortisol depresses thymus function. Relieve stress and your thymus will function better. Yin Yang Yoga combines deep stretching with dynamic movements, which help to combats stress and lead to a calm body and mind, says Tan Hee Boon, a yoga instructor from Pure Yoga. “Yoga poses are designed to regulate and strengthen the secretions of different glands such as the thymus.” Besides, there are four women for every man in a typical class!