A useful article from the company of trainers and nutritionists of Bornfitness about how the immune system functions and why it does not need to be “strengthened” with special drugs. The article entered the top fitness articles list according to the PTDC community of American trainers. The Lion Health retells this info to make it more understandable for an average person.
Original post – Why Boosting Your Immune System Makes You Feel Sicker
Modern Immune System Beliefs
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, we were struggling to strengthen the immune system, succumbing to the propaganda of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical business. Vitamin C gum, zinc tablets, antioxidant drinks – a variety of products were touted as an absolute must.
But, as often happens today, almost all of this is not a sincere concern for our health, but marketing. Most vitamins and minerals – with rare exceptions – will not help the immune system in any way unless you are extremely depleted and severely deficient in essential nutrients.
The idea that all you have to do is swallow a pill, drink a cocktail with billions of probiotics, or do something else to “boost” your immunity is a wrong line of thought. (And nevertheless, the authors of the text further recommend taking vitamin D if it lacks in nutrition – Lion’s note).
If, of course, you enjoy taking multivitamins and purchasing superfoods, then keep up the good work. But in this article, you will learn how actually to support your immune system.
How Immune System Works
Our immune system has two components:
If some kind of infection breaks through the first line of defense (skin, mucous membranes) and enters the body, an innate immune reaction begins. With the activation of certain proteins and cells, inflammation is intensified (yes, imagine inflammation can be beneficial) to create a protective barrier that prevents the spread of infection. Common cuts are a good example.
The acquired (adaptive) response is what we usually call immunity: when faced with a disease, the body tries to recognize it faster and develop the necessary antibodies or immune cells to defeat the infection, bacteria, or virus.
When the body is unable to recognize the disease (for the first time it encounters a new virus), we get sick. But then, if the disease is defeated and the necessary immune cells are developed, they will remain with us forever. This is why many doctors believe that it is impossible to catch the same infection twice. Once it is learned (by your body), you are protected.
This is how vaccines work: you are injected with a “disabled” version of the virus, the body “learns” and creates tools to fight the disease, and then you are safe.
Remember this prerequisite: in order to develop protection against a particular virus by entering it into its database, the adaptive immune system must first become familiar with it and overcome it.
Why Does Not Immunity Need to Be Boosted?
First, the immune system is not easy to manipulate. The advertisers of drugs that “enhance” immunity are simply lying. Second, even if this were true, artificial “amplification” can be a big mistake.
Do you think that if the immune system becomes super strong, then you will feel better, recover easily and recover quickly? Vice versa.
Let’s say you have a cold; boosted immunity will strengthen all reactions to the disease – pain, fever, snot, and other joys. After all, these are not manifestations of the disease but the response of the immune system to it. And you will enjoy them longer than people with normal immunity. Even when the source of the infection has already been found and neutralized.
It’s the same with allergies. For example, itchy eyes and sore throat are how your immune system reacts, learns, and overcomes an irritant. If you increase it further, the symptoms will also increase.
In short, if your body does not switch to combat mode, then you do not need an overactive (“boosted”) immune system, as this is what causes autoimmune disorders for which there is no cure.
You just need a healthy, normally functioning immune system that knows how to fight infection (when it is needed) and knows how to relax (when there is no danger). To achieve this, stop relying on magic “boosters” and focus on what really matters.
Things to Consider
Stress and Immune System
One of the main enemies of immunity is an increased level of stress, even if you no longer notice it .
In the 1980s, scientists investigated how the immune system of students behaved during the session period . They found that due to the stress of the upcoming exams, the number of T-lymphocytes (which protect us from literally everything from viruses to serious diseases like cancer) decreased.
In the 1990s, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that less stressed participants were more likely to cope with colds when exposed to the virus . Similar immunosuppressive reactions have been identified in other studies. For example, in people in a “complicated” relationship, cuts and other wounds take longer to heal.
So what exactly happens to immunity when we are stressed? The immune system protects us with the help of an army of cells (the main fighters are T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes). These cells provide a healthy person’s immune response – the production of cytokines (friendly protein cells that help our body) and antibodies (that fight foreign pathogens).
And various stressors suppress the normal immune response , and the battle cells cannot fulfill their task – to maintain our health.
To learn how to cope with stress, start with 10-15 minutes of meditation.
If you deny all sorts of esotericism, then here are a couple more “proving” ways:
- Take 2 deep breaths before answering a call or going to a meeting (any stressful moment when your heart rate increases, etc.). Researchers at the University of North Carolina Medical School have suddenly discovered that deep breathing can help you feel more confident and lower your heart rate, reducing stress levels.
- Drink coffee with friends. Scientists from the University of Bristol (that is, the British) have noticed that when drinking caffeine alone, people remain nervous and anxious; if you drink coffee in a company, the negative feelings of stress subside.
Sleep deprivation with stress is a great combo to shut down your immune system. Lack of sleep prevents immune cells from reaching the lymph nodes (where they help fight disease) or makes it difficult to produce the necessary antibodies to fight infection.
In one of the studies , it was found that those who sleep 6 hours a day catch colds 4 times more often than those who lie in bed for 7 hours. And the risk continues to rise with less than 5 hours of sleep.
Here are some simple tips to help you fall asleep easier (and sleep better):
- Go to bed at the same time – a full sleep cycle takes about an hour and a half. Choose the time of rest and recovery so as not to jump in the REM phase (which can leave you exhausted for the whole day),
- The bedroom should be cool. Heartless scientists recommend 20 °C or even 15 °C,
- Try to exercise early in the day, not before bed,
- Do not drink alcohol at night,
- An hour before bedtime, cut off all screens,
- Get distracted by something enjoyable – reading a book or collecting a puzzle: this will connect the part of the brain that “calms” thoughts, and it will be easier for you to fall asleep.
As early as 10 years ago, it was believed that exercise weakened the immune system. But in fact, the opposite is true.
Our editors and content writing team don’t neglect regular workouts, and here is why:
- they improve the functioning of the immune system,
- reduce the risk of developing diseases,
- help regulate normal inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses,
- delays the onset of age-related immunodeficiency.
Moreover, research reviews say movement can be considered the best medicine, quote from the study :
Current evidence from epidemiological studies shows that maintaining a physically active lifestyle reduces the incidence of infectious (bacterial, viral) and non-infectious diseases (such as cancer), which means that regular exercise improves the state of the immune system.
Physical activity, providing positive stress, trains the immune system, which more actively produces neutrophils and lymphocytes. And they circulate through the body within 3-4 hours after exercise, detecting and neutralizing potentially dangerous microorganisms. Apparently, this is why people exercising at least 5 times a week (Lion’s note – this is, of course, not about the daily “no pain no gain” to failure) get sick almost 2 times less than idlers.
More importantly, exercise can help reduce stress and improve sleep. So physical activity could even be ranked first in terms of importance.
Protein is essential not only for beautiful and healthy muscles. It is critical for every cell in our body, including the immune system.
Proteins are a key component of the very antibodies that the immune system makes for safety. Also, proteins (cytokines) regulate the work of the immune system so that it does not overdo it and does not attack healthy cells.
You probably already know the sources of high-quality protein, but still, remember:
- milk and dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt),
- fish and seafood,
- grains and legumes (for example, chickpeas and rice).
While no supplement will provide as much benefit as quality sleep, stress management, and regular exercise, there are a few things worth taking in.
Scientists are still investigating the mechanisms of action but have already noticed that vitamin D helps both innate and acquired immune responses and also plays an important role in the production of antimicrobial proteins.
For example, a study  found that taking large doses of vitamin D in the elderly led to a 40 percent decrease in the incidence of respiratory infections within a year.
In addition, unlike many vitamins and minerals, which are difficult to achieve in real life, vitamin D deficiency can negatively affect the health of more than 1 billion people worldwide.
To support your body naturally, try to walk in the sun for about 15-20 minutes a day. If you live in cloudy regions, refer to food sources:
But if you still want to show off pretty boxes with additives in social networks, then choose those that contain at least 2000-3000 IU (IU) of vitamin D3 in a dose.
See more about dosages here – How to Take Vitamin D: 2021 Recommendations.
We do not persuade you to completely refuse it (life is life, there are difficult moments and holidays). But if you overdo it on a regular basis, then the immune system will definitely suffer.
Research shows that drinking too much – not to mention binge drinking – interferes with the normal functioning of the immune system , which makes you more vulnerable to ailments ranging from upper respiratory infections to delayed recovery from cuts and sports injuries.
If you feel that you are losing control (drinking too often or too much), use the following step-by-step scheme.
- Step 1: Arrange fasting (non-alcoholic) days. This will help build your willpower and develop healthy habits.
- Step 2: Remove all alcohol from the house. As a dieter shouldn’t keep donuts in the kitchen, you better get rid of tempting liquids.
- Step 3: Keep a drinking diary and record the number of “drinks” so as not to deceive yourself and know exactly how much you took and when to stop.
Read more about the alcohol-weight shedding connection here – Alcohol Effects on a Diet.
Other Substances With Scientific Evidence for an Effect on Immune System
At this point, it is important to recall the scientific review “How to Boost Immunity” from sports nutritionist, where he echoes the authors of this article on the importance of avoiding stress and having exercise and also reviews the scientific evidence on how to help immunity different substances:
- Aloe vera,
- Astragalus membranous root,
- Aged garlic extract,
More about this topic:
- Icariin: Infertility, Potency, Immunity, and Atherosclerosis
- Antibiotic Prophylaxis: All You Need to Know
- Schisandra Extract: Effects and Health Benefits
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