So that’s it. It is impossible to “raise immunity”. Absolutely. The fact is that the immune system consists of many components that interact in a very difficult way. We do not have a complete picture of all of them to this day. All of these parts of the system must work in concert to maintain balance. Influencing individual links, especially drugs that have no proven effectiveness, is not only not useful, but can be harmful. As tempting as it may be to take a magic pill that “strengthens” your immune system, it doesn’t work that way. And the notorious “strengthening” of the immune system after the use of a number of drugs can result in an exacerbation or debut of autoimmune pathology (diseases in which the immune system attacks a person’s own tissues).
What to do? Is there really no way to protect yourself?
Unfortunately, one cannot completely protect oneself from the same colds. Acute respiratory infections are normal. The good news is that you can provide the immune system with the conditions to function effectively.
Here is a list of things that can help your immune system better protect you from pathogens:
Hygiene… We have become better aware of this with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is always useful to remember this. Simple mechanical removal of pathogens with soap and water already effectively reduces pathogens. Therefore:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food and after using the toilet.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing with a handkerchief or elbow.
- Keep wounds, cuts, and other superficial injuries clean.
- Do not touch healing wounds or squeeze out superficial abscesses to avoid spreading the infection.
Vaccination… It is currently the only truly proven effective way of protecting against infections. Of course, vaccination can be postponed or canceled if contraindications are found, but vaccinations are recommended for the vast majority of children and adults.
Food quality control… Banal food poisoning can have serious consequences for the body. Here are some simple precautions to avoid microbial growth in your food and to deal with existing ones:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling raw foods.
- Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating.
- Separate raw and cooked foods; do not use the same utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked meat, fish, or poultry.
- It is preferable to use thermally processed meat, fish or poultry.
- Use the refrigerator or microwave to defrost food.
- Use only clean water for drinking and cooking (and brushing your teeth).
Ensuring travel safety… To travel to some regions, you will need to prepare in advance – be vaccinated against a number of diseases, stock up on repellents and bottled water.
Securing Sexa, to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections.
What else can I do to improve my immune system?
Basically, the existing recommendations are related to lifestyle changes.
To give up smoking.
Smoking disrupts the balance of immune responses and contributes to the development of a chronic inflammatory process in the body, which reduces the body’s ability to resist infections. In addition, smoking has been linked to an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases.
Limiting alcohol intake.
Excessive alcohol consumption suppresses the activity of the immune defenses. At the same time, the effect of small doses of alcohol on immunity is still under discussion.
Maintaining optimal body weight
Overweight is associated with the accumulation of adipose tissue, which releases many regulatory factors that affect other organs and tissues. Obesity is also associated with the development of low-grade chronic inflammation, which negatively affects the protection against infections, as well as, apparently, the effectiveness of vaccines.
Too low body weight is also associated with a reduced ability of the body to defend against pathogens.
Maintaining physical activity
It has been suggested that intense physical activity may have a depressing effect on some immune functions. At the same time, moderate physical activity can improve the functioning of the immune system. This is not only due to the potential weight loss, but also to the overall anti-inflammatory effect of exercise.
As with any other system of the body, the intake of vitamins, trace elements and nutrients from food is important for the immune system. In addition, if the immune system is activated (for example, during a period of illness), it also requires additional support. Malnutrition reduces the body’s defenses. The same effect, apparently, has an insufficient intake of individual elements (zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, vitamins A, B6, C and E). But this does not mean that you should take vitamins and nutritional supplements uncontrollably. If you suspect that you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet, talk to your doctor. It is possible that it will be enough to ensure proper nutrition: eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish with limited red meat and processed meats. According to some reports, the inclusion of fermented foods (sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt) in the diet can also have a beneficial effect on the state of your system by influencing the microorganisms living in your gut (microbiota).
Quality rest and sleep
Chronic stress increases the level of adrenal hormones, which disrupt the interactions between the components of the immune system and the activity of its individual components, reducing its protective properties. In addition, stress can also reduce the effectiveness of vaccinations, which confirms the negative effect of stress on immunity.
Reducing sleep time, leading to the development of a chronic inflammatory process, has a similar effect. A person needs to get enough sleep (7-8 hours a day) so that the immune system can maintain its protective functions.
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that would save you from all colds and diseases. Lifestyle changes are more boring, but have a proven track record.