Health : Strengthen the immune system – is it possible and how?
Winter is already here and with it, the many viruses, colds and flu. And during this time of year, we are always wondering is it possible to strengthen the immune system and how can we avoid staying sick at home or spending the holiday season in bed cold?
What is the immune system?
The immune system is our largest defense system which keeps us from the most dangerous of invaders. We live in an ocean of organisms. Bacteria, viruses, parasites and other forms of life live around us, on our skin and even in our stomachs. And most of its life forms are not dangerous to us. The job of the immune system is to make sure that we are healthy in the midst of this complex and challenging environment.
How can you strengthen the immune system?
There is a misconception that the immune system makes war with any foreign organism. But it will lead to a scorched earth and a nuclear winter. Instead, the immune system’s job is to inventory, monitor, assess and judge potential threats. Ideally, the immune system will find a cooperative existence with many microbes with which we share our bodies and the planet. But if there is an invader that is deemed very dangerous, the immune system has a very specific job: destroying the threat and doing as little collateral damage as possible. And this immune system response comes in the form of inflammation.
An inflammation can be something very violent, causing an outpouring of poisonous and deadly cells whose purpose is to "cleanse" pathogens from the body. Immune system players rush to assess the problem, attack it, clean the problem area and regenerate the tissue.
For us, inflammation can present as a stuffy nose, sore throat, stomach ache, fever, fatigue, or headache. Yes, the symptoms of the immune system response are not very pleasant, but we have to suffer a little for the well-being of our body in the long term. And for our daily well-being, the key is to try to keep our immune system from underperforming or out of control.
The immune system is a very complex system
Balance is very important
The immune system, often seen as a ruthless defendant, is always looking for a steady state, not a state of alert. It is like a delicate combination between a bouncer and a ballet dancer. In reality, many of the molecules in this complex system are made to send a signal that it must withdraw, put the attack on hold and out of order. Without these molecules, the state of inflammation that helps destroy threats would ruin our bodies.
We need inflammation to protect ourselves from invaders. We need these police. But if they are too rowdy, they will cause harm to innocent people. Respecting the balance of the immune system daily is essential for feeling healthy and living well. But instead of strengthening the immune system, we must learn to support it. And we must never neglect its delicate structure.
The immune system is often seen as a ruthless defendant
Our immune system developed around 480 million years ago. All jawed vertebrates dating back to the shark share its key properties. One of these properties is prioritization. Our defenses must calculate which threat to our survival requires the most attention at any given time. Which one requires the most resources: infection, tissue repair, or the sudden appearance of a lion or bear?
When faced with a strong threat such as a lion attack, the body's network focuses mainly on this threat. He goes into a state of emergency. And during these periods, the body uses a lot of chemical elements to overcome the attack. And when these hormones are secreted, we generally feel good. But it only makes things worse for us and our immune system. The reason is that the secretion of these hormones dampens the response of the immune system. So what we have to remember is not to overuse our immune system, because it will not be able to work properly when the real threat comes to us, especially during the period of multiple viruses.
Can we still do something to strengthen the immune system?
The idea of strengthening the immune system is very attractive, but the ability to do so has proven to be tireless for several reasons. The immune system is a system, not an entire entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony between its components. There is still much that scientists do not know about the intricacies and interconnections of the immune response. Today, there are no direct scientifically proven links between lifestyle and improved immune functions.
But that does not mean that the links between efforts to lead a healthy life and the immune system should not be studied. Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, sport, age, stress and other factors on the immune response. In the meantime, leading a healthy lifestyle is one way to start strengthening your body's immune system.
"Healthy" Ways To Strengthen The Immune System
Our first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following the rules of life is the only good step towards keeping the immune system strong and healthy naturally. Every part of our body, including the immune system, works best when they are protected from environmental aggressions and reinforced by a healthy lifestyle strategy such as:
-Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
-Do some sport
-Maintain a healthy weight
-Drink alcohol in moderation
-Try to avoid infections like washing your hands more often
-Try to minimize stress
Improve your immunity naturally
Many products claim to strengthen or support the immune system. But the idea of boosting your immunity doesn't make much scientific sense. In reality, boosting the number of cells in the body is not necessarily a good thing. For example, athletes who inject drugs by pumping blood into their systems to boost cell numbers and improve their performance are likely to have heart attacks.
Trying to boost the cells of the immune system is very complicated because there are many different cells in the immune system that respond to many different microbes in many different ways. Which cells should you boost and how many? Until then scientists do not know the answer to this question. What they do know is that the body is constantly building immune cells. Certainly, it produces many more lymphocytes than it can use. The extra cells are removed through a natural cell death process. No one knows how many cells and what is the best mix the system needs to function at its peak.
The immune system and age
As we age, the capacity of our immune response is reduced, which can lead to more infections and even cancer. As life expectancy in developed countries has increased, so age-related health conditions have also increased.
Even if some people stay healthy with age, the conclusion of many scientific studies is that compared to younger people, older people are more likely to develop infections. Still, there appears to be a link between nutrition and immunity in the elderly. A form of malnutrition is common even in developed countries. This form of malnutrition is called "micronutrient malnutrition" and it occurs when the person lacks certain essential vitamins and minerals obtained from a diet. Older people eat less and often have fewer varieties in their diets.
Diet and the immune system
Like every fighting force, the immune system feeds on the stomach. The healthy immune system needs to eat regularly. It is known that people who live in poverty and who are malnourished are more vulnerable to developing infections. There is evidence that variable micronutrient deficits such as deficiency of zinc, selenium, copper, iron and vitamins A, B6, C and E alter the immune response in animals.
So what can we do to strengthen the immune system through diet? If you have suspicions that your diet is low in micronutrients because you don't like eating vegetables for example, you should start taking multivitamin and mineral supplements. These supplements may even have other health benefits aside from their effects on the immune system. However, taking large doses of a single vitamin will not have these effects. More does not necessarily mean better.
Strengthen the immune system with herbal supplements
If you walk into a pharmacy, you will very easily find plenty of bottles of tablets and herbal preparations that claim to help immunity or strengthen the immune system. Even though certain preparations can really modify certain components of the immune system, so far there is not really any evidence that they boost immunity to protect us against diseases and infections. Proving that an herb or certain substance can improve the immune system is a very complicated matter. Scientists do not know, for example, whether an herb, which appears to increase the levels of antibodies in the blood, is actually beneficial for immunity or not.
Stress and immune function
Modern medicine really appreciates the close link between mind and body. A wide variety of illnesses including stomach upset, hives and even cardiovascular disease are linked to the effects of emotional stress. Despite the challenges, scientists are actively studying the relationship between stress and immune function.
Stress is difficult to define. A stressful situation for one person may not be stressful for another. When exposed to situations that are considered stressful for us, it becomes difficult for us to measure the level of our stress and it also becomes difficult for scientists to know whether a person's subjective impressions are correct.
Most scientists interested in the relationship between stress and the immune system do not study sudden and short stresses but frequent and more constant stress, or chronic stress. Some scientists are studying whether continued stress reflects on the immune system. In any case, the relationship between stress and the immune system has been well established, so try to lead a stressful month to be less sick.
Move to strengthen the immune system
Scientists say moving more and playing sports is an easy way to protect yourself from viruses and disease. A scientific study shows that those who exercise for 20 minutes a day 5 times a week take 43 percent less sick leave. Exercising and moving causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells, allowing them to circulate faster and detecting and fighting viruses more quickly.
One of the reasons for not playing sports is often the lack of time. But the good news is that we don't need to do marathons to strengthen the immune system. Experts say that just 30min of sports is enough to send white cells back into the bloodstream, allowing the immune system to function better.
Immunity and lack of sleep
Lack of sleep can damage the functioning of the immune system. The University of Chicago has found that patients who sleep only four hours at night produce half of the antibodies that fight viruses compared to people who sleep 7 to 8 hours at night.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause a reduction in T cells and an increased production of inflammatory cytokines which potentially lead to a greater risk of getting the flu. And if you ever get sick, lack of sleep can also have a negative effect on the time the body needs to recover from the disease. Simply put, the immune system needs sleep to do its job.
Most of us need between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to feel good. So try to improve your routine in the evening before bed and unplug the TV and electronics a few hours before going to bed. And your immune system will appreciate it!
No smoking is very important for strengthening the immune system
Fumet, as we all know, can damage the body in many different ways. Fumet also weakens the immune system and slows down the defense of antibodies when exposed to outside attacks. Clouds of carcinogens swell the esophagus, tear soft tissue, and leave us more vulnerable to infection.
It can be very difficult to quit smoking, but many former smokers feel better after quitting. Within a few hours of smoking, nicotine levels begin to drop significantly, oxygen begins to swing, and the body is already starting to make improvements in its immune system. Smoking is one of the habits to quit right away if you want to be healthy.