During the period of outbreaks of various infectious diseases, it is important to know how our cells protect our bodies and what can be done to strengthen immunity and reduce the risk of catching some kind of infection.
How does the immune system work?
Immunity is the most complex system of the body that protects against foreign influences – viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. Now a lot of articles have appeared on the network in which doctors say that it is dangerous to interfere with the immune system, and only serious immunodeficiency conditions need to be treated. At the same time, they say that the right way of life can significantly help the immune system cope with external threats.
In particular, it is necessary to get enough sleep because, in a dream, the immune system works more actively – new cells are formed, hormones are released, which increase the body’s resistance, regenerate damaged tissues.
The second extremely important point is proper nutrition with a sufficient amount of macro- and micronutrients: not only proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water, but also mineral salts, vitamins. In the intestines are lymphoid tissues – part of the immune system, and there is also a beneficial microflora that greatly helps the immune system – it does not allow pathogens to multiply. Therefore good intestinal function is important for high immunity, and if there are problems with the intestines, they must be solved.
Finally, the third point is related to physical activity and outdoor activities. Activation of blood circulation and metabolism in general, the supply of oxygen to tissues plays a significant role in the functioning of the immune system. More active people involved in sports with a fast metabolism, as a rule, get sick less often and carry infections much easier.
What drugs strengthen immunity
All immunity enhancers that are discussed are not magic tablets, the administration of which automatically raises immunity by a predetermined amount. They work differently: make up for the lack of certain substances in the diet.
The normal functioning of the immune system requires many essential substances – hormones, enzymes, signaling substances, etc. To create them, as well as for the growth of immune cells, building materials are required – proteins, fats, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, trace elements. With the insufficient intake of food, immunity begins to weaken. Therefore, their reception in the case of a deficiency helps to resist disease.
We can agree that it is best to consume a sufficient amount of full-fledged fruits of vegetables and other foods containing vitamins and minerals. But the fact is that affordable food products do not always contain all the necessary substances in sufficient quantities. Fruits and vegetables are often grown on depleted soil with a large number of mineral fertilizers and artificial lighting. They are ripened immature in order to successfully survive the long transportation and storage in warehouses. As a result, its nutritional value is very low. This explains the seemingly paradoxical fact when a person eats large quantities of vegetables, fruits, and other food, but at the same time experiences a lack of any vitamins or minerals.
What supplements strengthen the immune system?
Modern scientific studies confirm that vitamin D improves immunity, more precisely confirm the existence of a relationship between the level of this substance in the body and the functions of the immune system. It stimulates the activity of immune cells, translates them into an active state. Vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet radiation, and also comes with food. But in the countries of the north and the temperate zone, almost the entire population suffers from one degree or another of vitamin D deficiency, which is responsible for the absorption of calcium by the bones, the normal functioning of the musculoskeletal system, the secretion of hormones (in particular, testosterone) and the state of the immune system. In some cases, taking vitamin D helps the body more successfully resist respiratory infections and colds.
The active substances of this plant belong to the group of adaptogens – they increase the body’s ability to get used to stress and tolerate stress and adverse environmental changes. Echinacea has a pronounced effect on the immune system – it is widely used as an adjunct in the treatment of respiratory diseases and viral infections. Echinacea drugs help reduce the period of recovery and reduce the risk of complications (pharyngitis, tonsillitis, otitis media, pneumonia, etc.).
The blue-green algae spirulina has recently been included in the arsenal of sports nutrition as a source of essential amino acids, but in recent years, studies have emerged that reveal the serious antiviral activity of spirulina. It increases the release of interferon, suppresses the reproduction of the virus, stimulates the production of antibodies, and thus helps to effectively fight viruses both at the prophylactic stage and during the treatment of infections. Spirulina helps athletes counteract the immunosuppression that occurs due to hard training.
Amino acid glutamine also refers to drugs that strengthen the immune system. It is an energy source for many body cells, including immune cells. High glutamine levels support lymphocyte reproduction and growth at an optimal level. Glutamine is required in large quantities for the development of macrophages, phagocytes, and neutrophilic cells that destroy pathogens. It is also extremely important for maintaining the vitality of the intestinal microflora, which makes an important contribution to the fight against infections.
Due to the ease with which glutamine is converted into energy and used by cells as a building material, its level seriously decreases with heavy loads, stress, regular training. Supplementation with glutamine well supports the functioning of the immune system.
This most important element is required for many body processes – replication of DNA and RNA, reproduction and development of immune cells, their differentiation, and an active fight against infections. Zinc is also required for the secretion of testosterone, which plays an important role in maintaining immunity. And according to WHO, more than a third of all people in the world lack zinc.
How to improve immunity in adults
On average, it is believed that if an adult suffers from respiratory infections no more than 5-6 times a year, then this is quite normal. Moreover, quick recovery after ARVI without complications (pharyngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, etc.) indicates good immune system stability. But at the same time, everyone wants to get sick less often and easier, because an illness is a loss of working time, days divorced from a family, undone things, interrupted training, etc.
It is possible to improve the immunity of an adult by active physical exercises, hardening, regular walks in the fresh air, normal healthy sleep, and good nutrition. If the diet lacks any vitamins or minerals, then their intake is required additionally.
How to improve immunity in kids
When children get sick, this is the most difficult time for parents. It’s easier to get sick yourself than to worry about a loved one. But it is the strong immunity of the whole family that is the best protection for the child. If the child often picks up infections (in kindergarten, at school), then it is necessary to conduct a medical examination, which will reveal a lack of certain vitamins or other problems. Or it may not reveal, which is also not bad since it will most likely mean that everything is in order, and as the child grows up, the body will fully form, and the child will become sick less often.
- At the same time, you can try to strengthen the child’s immunity, accustoming him to morning exercises and sports. It’s good to record it in some sports section – at least for football, at least for judo.
- The second important point is frequent walks in the fresh air (at least 2 hours a day) and hardening. The morning cold shower is beyond the competition – it will help to wake up and strengthen your health. But here it is best for parents to set an example for their children.
- A normal healthy sleep within the physiological norm is extremely important for children – they should sleep longer than adults. For preschoolers, daytime sleep is also required, although in truth, when they reach six years of age, most children are simply impossible to put to sleep during the day.
- The normal nutrition of the child is an important contribution to immunity. Siblings should not be allowed to abuse sweets, chips, soda, and other harmful products. Children should eat full-fledged vegetables and fruits – it is from them that it is preferable to receive all the necessary vitamins and minerals. But if despite all the efforts, the child has a deficiency of some vitamin, then vitamin complexes and fish oil come to the rescue.
- You should not abuse supplements: vitamins strengthen the immune system, but only if they are deficient. In a situation of normal intake of vitamins with food, an additional intake will not do anything, but it can only do much harm.
So, the most important factor for good immunity (with the exception of normal genetics) is a healthy lifestyle. Supplements can play a positive role, but only if there is a shortage of any important nutrients in the diet.
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