Health : Can you really boost your immune system against the virus?
As we all begin to get used to the new COVID-19 coronavirus, scientists continue to work on new drugs and vaccines against the virus. Many doctors and experts suggest taking a holistic approach to maintaining good health. The immune response may actually be essential for staying healthy. Even if the following ways that we will offer you in this article do not guarantee that you will not catch COVID-19, these are still ways that will help you keep your immune system in good condition and feel good .
The world is trying to fight COVID-19
Our immune system is very finely tuned, say doctors. But, yes, there are things you can do to help him work better. And since the coronavirus has already become a global pandemic, there is a lot of information going around everywhere that could help us not to catch COVID-19. In addition to precautions like washing your hands and avoiding sick people, what else can you do to make sure your immune system is ready to fight coronavirus and any other viruses you may be exposed to? Here are the things that doctors think can help you and the things that are unnecessary to do. But first :
COVID-19 or the new coronavirus is now a global pandemic
How does the immune system work?
Let’s start at the beginning. The immune system is the network of cells throughout our body (in the skin, in the blood and everywhere) that work together to prevent or limit the infection of pathogens potentially dangerous to us, such as bacteria and viruses, and to prevent damage from non-infectious agents like sunburn and cancer.
Scientists categorize variable immune cells into two main groups: innate immune cells and adaptive immune cells, says Michael N. Starnbach, professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Innate immune cells are the first line of defense. What these cells do is identify microbes and other potential threats such as the new COVID-19 by triggering an immune system response that will help neutralize them. Adaptive immune cells are part of the second part of the immune response. These are special cells that respond for the purpose of “mopping up” the rest of the organisms that remain after the response of innate immune cells, says Dr. Stombach.
Is there anything you can do to strengthen your immune system against COVID-19?
And here comes the interesting part: the adaptive immune system has what is called “immune memory”. This means that when these cells see a pathogen that has already entered the body before, they will not only help the body to ‘chase’ the invader, but they will also create more copies of themselves to continue. build a stronger defense in the future so that the body is better prepared to fight pathogens if and when these pathogens reappear.
In the case of a new virus as in the case of the new virus COVID-19 there unfortunately does not exist an increased response of the immune system because the immune system of nobody has never encountered this virus before. No one has ever been exposed to the coronavirus and that is why no one has developed an immune response to the virus. And that leaves most of us susceptible, explains dr. Starnbach. There are also still no vaccines against this new virus like other known viruses.
Vaccines work precisely because of immune memory, says dr. Starnbach. When you get vaccinated with vaccines like seasonal flu shots, you expose your immune system to a version of the virus that causes an increase in the number of immune cells in the body, which can respond and fight the virus if you are exposed in real life. Vaccines are a kind of booster for the immune system that really works.
Scientists still have not found a vaccine for the new coronavirus
But it is good to know that the vaccine does not work as a booster for the entire immune system. The flu shot will not make you more resistant to colds or other illnesses. The vaccine only boosts the immune response to specific strains of influenza for which the vaccine has been designed to be effective. ‘The vaccine is something very specific and designed to fight against a particular pathogen such as the flu, chickenpox or polio,’ says Dr Starnbach.
Is it really possible to strengthen the immune system against COVID-19? It is complicated
The idea of strengthening your immune system to be generally more resistant to everything is really imperfect, says Dr. Strarnbach. Our immune system is really very finely tuned. Different immune cells are geared to recognize things in our body that are potentially dangerous and to try to neutralize those things. If these cells did not exist, we would not be able to respond to the organisms that invade us. Or if, on the contrary, our immune system is too active, these cells will start to attack our own tissues.
There are ways to boost your immune system
The immune system that attacks our own tissues is what happens when we have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease. And nobody wants to strengthen their immune system globally at this point.
Some scientific studies have investigated whether supplements containing specific vitamins and nutrients can help protect against colds and viruses, but the evidence seems to suggest that if the supplements really help, they do so in a way that reduces the severity of the condition. infection or disease once you’ve caught it than fighting against catching it.
What is really important to remember about the new coronavirus is the fact that scientists had not yet studied it well before it spreads at the end of 2019 and have no answers yet whether certain drugs move or not have an effect on him, says dr. Yufang Lin., An internal physician at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Lyndhurst Campus of the Cleveland Clinic Health System in Ohio. Vaccines are still not developed or tested. There is no information to confirm that certain supplements can decrease the severity of the virus when it comes to COVID-19. There are still a lot of things doctors and scientists don’t know about this new virus. Scientific studies are being conducted now that will eventually provide more information on this, says dr. Linen.
What we know for sure: there are many factors that can weaken the immune system
You’ve probably heard that people with weakened immune systems need to be more careful about the risk of COVID-19. But what makes one person’s immune system weaker than another’s immune system?
There are several known factors that make it harder for a person’s immune system to fight off potentially dangerous pathogens, such as in the case of coronavirus. These factors are:
Smoking: Smoking reduces your immune system and weakens your lungs. So people who smoke are generally more likely to develop pneumonia or a severe infection, like those caused by COVID-19, says dr. Linen.
Medication: Certain medications can prevent the immune system from working properly. Immunomodulators, steroids, or drugs for autoimmune diseases can suppress or weaken the immune system.
Age : Your children are more likely to get viruses because their immune systems are not yet well developed: this is part of the maturation process, says dr. Linen. When children grow up, their immune systems are exposed to different viruses and they get used to being exposed to the virus and also become much more capable of fighting it.
But in the case of very young children, each time their immune system encounters a new pathogen, their body shows a very strong response from the immune system. However, it appears that children do not pose a great risk with regard to the coronavirus, according to the observations of scientists and doctors.
Seniors, too, tend to have a weaker immune system than other age groups. Seniors can have chronic health problems. And if the body is constantly occupied with several medical conditions, it becomes more difficult for it to fight the new virus.
On top of that, as we age, our immune system weakens and it can take longer for our bodies to produce a meaningful immune response when the risk arises. This gives the virus or infection more time to grow and replicate, which can lead to more severe symptoms.
Other chronic medical conditions: Chronic preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease can affect the immune system and increase the risk for people with the disease to get coronavirus. People with this type of medical condition also appear to be at greater risk if they get the coronavirus, of having more severe symptoms, according to information from the World Health Organization. In addition to this, WHO also warns that the elderly are at greater risk.
Pregnancy : Pregnant women have changes in their immune systems and in their bodies that may increase their risk of developing viral infections including COVID-19, experts say. Being pregnant simply affects the immune system in women because it now takes care of two humans instead of one. This can increase the risk in pregnant women of developing more severe infections.
Malnutrition: Malnourished people are more susceptible to viruses and certain diseases. The deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals in the body prevents the immune system from functioning properly. By replenishing the deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals by taking supplements in these cases can help the immune system to function in a healthy way and better fight diseases and infections. But the question of whether supplements help the immune system respond better in people who don’t have vitamin and mineral deficits is still unclear.
What can you do to improve your immune system?
Sleep: As proven by recent scientific studies, if you don’t get enough sleep, your body cannot produce enough cytokines: a type of protein that targets infections and inflammation by creating an effective immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep. Lack of chronic sleep makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond. It is advisable to take a nap during the day to help reduce the effects of lack of sleep on the immune system.
Diet : Avoid sugar in your daily menu so as not to feed the bad bacteria that kill the good bacteria in your intestines. Autoimmune and digestion issues are signs of an imbalance in the stomach. Ideally, there should be 85 percent of good bacteria or probiotics in your intestines. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, komboucha and kimchi can help you repopulate the good bacteria in your gut by giving you more energy and vitality.
Intermittent fasting: It has been known for centuries that fasting has been used as a remedy for health problems. Paracelsus, a great healer in the Western tradition, wrote 500 years ago: “Fasting is the best medicine, the doctor inside.” In 2014, Dr. Valter Longo of the University of South Carolina in the United States discovered that fasting for three days with only water can essentially reset the immune system. By avoiding eating for at least 16-16 hours after your last meal, allows your body to focus on immune cells by recycling them and getting rid of damaged cells. This practice should of course only be practiced if you are in good health. But if that’s the case, that wouldn’t want more time for yourself by taking care of your late projects instead of meal preparation.
Meditation to reduce stress: Stress can cause inflammation inside the body, which can greatly affect your body’s immune response by releasing a very large amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress also makes you more vulnerable to infection and disease, whether it is stress in the office or in your personal life. This is the reason why meditation has become a must for those who really want to be healthy. There are many forms and variants of meditation and a recent scientific study suggests that there is something intrinsic in meditation that can change gene expression and even improve mood over time. .
Move: Scientists have yet to find the exact mechanism by which staying physically active helps the immune system to function properly. But they know that physical exercise allows other systems in the body to work well as well, so they suspect there is a connection between the two. There is even some evidence that older adults who exercise regularly can make their immune systems function at the same level as the immune systems of younger people, according to a scientific study published in April 2018. be very careful because there is also evidence that extreme physical exercise can actually damage the immune system. So to keep your immune system working well, exercise in moderation.