Strengthen the immune system: this is how you ensure a better immune system
With a strong immune system, we still protect ourselves best against viruses and bacteria. If this protection is lacking, we can get sick. Especially during dark winter months when the cold temperatures and changeable weather make it difficult for us.
We will show you the best tips for a strong immune system! This article answers the following questions:
- What does "immune system" actually mean?
- What are the functions of our immune system?
- What are the causes of a weak immune system?
- How can you strengthen your immune system?
- Which vitamins ensure a strong immune system?
- Can vitamin C strengthen the immune system?
- What role does zinc play in a strong immune system?
What does "immune system" actually mean?
We are exposed daily to viruses, bacteria, and fungi that attack us day and night and try to penetrate our bodies. In most cases, such attacks are fought off by our immune system, which is constantly on alert for us. But what does the immune system actually mean?
Simply put, our immune system is nothing more than a body's own defense system, which can fight off invading microorganisms and eliminate degenerate cells. Our immune system is a very complex system that is made up of
- different cells,
To protect the body from microscopic microorganisms and pollutants, different defense mechanisms are used in a strong immune system. These defense mechanisms include:
Unspecific defense: on the one hand, the unspecific defense is an external protective function that complicates or prevents the penetration of microorganisms. These include: skin, mucous membrane, sebum, gastric juice, urine. Besides, the immune system can respond to intruders at the cellular level. This happens primarily through scavenger cells (phagocytes), which absorb the pathogens and render them harmless.
Specific defense: the specific defense is an acquired immune defense that is based on direct contact with certain microorganisms. Through direct contact with the respective pathogen, the immune system can memorize the attacker (adaptive immune response) and react more quickly when contacted again. The white blood cells (lymphocytes), which make up about a quarter of the blood, play an important role in strengthening the immune system.
The blood and the lymphatic system are two important transport routes, on the one hand to supply the body with nutrients and oxygen and on the other hand to remove pollutants and pathological cells.
What are the functions of our immune system?
Our immune system is a complex mechanism that performs many tasks in our bodies. The immune system primarily helps to fight off pathogens and to render them harmless if necessary. Furthermore, the immune system protects us from inflammatory processes and also stimulates wound healing.
The functions of the immune system again briefly:
- It helps to fight off pathogens or to render them harmless
- Combats degenerated body cells
- Keeps the intestinal flora in balance
- Protects against inflammation
- Stimulates wound healing.
What are the causes of a weak immune system?
If the immune system is weakened, there are many possible causes. The most common cause of a weakened immune system is stress. Stress seems to be pervasive today because we put too much pressure on ourselves in everyday life and relax too little. However, the higher the stress level, the greater the risk that our immune system will fail.
In addition to stress, there are other causes of a weakened immune system. These include:
- lack of sleep (often caused by stress)
- dry mucous membranes (e.g. from heating air)
- wind, wet, and cold (environmental factors)
- age (children, pregnant women, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable)
How can you strengthen your immune system?
As you can see, your immune system is a strong defense mechanism, but it can easily get out of balance. That's why we have a few valuable tips for you on how to strengthen your immune system. Especially during the dark winter months, it makes sense to improve the body's defenses.
Strengthen the immune system with micronutrients
If you want to strengthen your immune system, you should make sure that you get enough micronutrients. Unfortunately, these are neglected far too often today, because we fall back to either fast food or convenience products - either for lack of time or convenience - which are unfortunately very low in micronutrients.
Therefore: eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables during the day, which strengthens the immune system and contains many vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Vitamins A and C are essential for good defense and healthy mucous membranes, with iron, zinc, copper, and selenium being equally important.
By the way: a healthy intestinal flora is of great importance for a strong immune system. It is not for nothing that health begins in the intestine. To strengthen your immune system, you should, therefore, pay attention to a high-fiber diet that consists of many fresh foods, such as
- fruit and vegetables,
- whole-grain products,
Strengthen the immune system with exercise
Exercise is still the best medicine to strengthen the body's defenses and to protect itself against (cold-related) diseases. Generally, it doesn't matter which sport you play. The main thing is that you like it and that you exercise regularly. Ideally, outside with fresh air.
Strengthen the immune system with light
This may sound simple at first - but it is not. Because: light is not your desk lamp, but the sunlight. And that is rare in the fall and winter, although it is extremely important for our body and the immune system.
Sunlight not only regulates your circadian rhythm - it stimulates the formation of vitamin D in your skin. Vitamin D plays a central role in your immune system because it can contribute to the development of the body's own antibodies.
However, the formation of vitamin D only works when sunlight hits uncovered skin. To get enough vitamin D, you should sunbathe at lunchtime when the sun's rays are strongest. Especially in winter you should spend 20 to 30 minutes outdoors without a hat or gloves.
By the way: we can also get vitamin D through our diet, for example by eating fatty fish, but the proportion - in contrast to sunlight - is very low. An alternative is to take a vitamin D supplement to replace the lack of sunlight and increase vitamin D intake.
Did you know that many people often don't get enough vitamin D not only in winter but also in summer? This is mainly because they spend more time behind closed doors during the day.
Strengthen the immune system through less stress
Stress is literally poison to your body. It robs you of all energy, makes you weak, tired, and listless. The more stress you have, the worse the symptoms, which can even lead into burnout.
Stress has another disadvantage: it can have a negative effect on your sleep because it stimulates the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which together with the sleep hormone melatonin ensures a regular day-night rhythm. However, if the stress hormone cortisol takes over, sleep disorders can result, which in turn can weaken your immune system.
If you want to strengthen your immune system, you should definitely reduce your stress level. This can be done, for example through
- better time management,
- relaxation exercises (autogenic training, muscle relaxation according to Jacobson),
A melatonin supplement can also help you sleep better and sleep through at night.
Strengthen the immune system through more sleep
As you have already learned, healthy sleep is extremely important to be fit and rested in the morning. If we sleep too little or if our sleep is disturbed - for example, due to stress - we feel tired, weak, and lack of energy in the morning.
It is due to the fact that the body recovers during sleep and uses the inactive time for important repair processes and for regeneration. Seven to eight hours of sleep are perfectly adequate for an adult, although we get by with less sleep as we get older.
By the way, it is often not just stress, but a disturbed day-night rhythm that can be responsible for sleep disorders. The reason for this could be, for example, the lack of sunlight in winter, which disrupts your hormonal balance, especially the release of cortisol and melatonin.
As a sleep hormone, melatonin is particularly important for healthy sleep. If you are one of those people who find it difficult to fall asleep or sleep through at night and the symptoms appear to be getting worse during the dark winter months, you can boost melatonin production with a melatonin supplement.
An additional supply of melatonin helps your body to balance the circadian rhythm and prevent sleep disorders.
Strengthen the immune system with food supplements
A balanced diet consisting of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is important for a strong immune system. Nevertheless, it can happen that we do not get enough nutrients from our diet. This could be because of
- heavily processed foods,
- incorrect storage and preparation,
- a higher nutrient requirement.
Athletes, in particular, must ensure that they have an adequate supply of nutrients, as their nutritional requirements are higher than among non-athletes. The body also consumes considerably more nutrients than usual in stressful times.
That is why more and more athletes and health-conscious people are using food supplements to optimize their diet, prevent nutrient deficits and strengthen the immune system.
Which vitamins ensure a strong immune system?
Your grandmother already knew that a hot tea with lemon can boost your immune system. The vitamin C contained in lemons is actually one of the most important vitamins that can contribute to a strong immune system.
Also important is the fat-soluble vitamin A, which strengthens the mucous membranes, which is particularly important in the cold season. Also essential is vitamin B6, which is involved in building the immune system and can, therefore, protect the body from illnesses.
Below we will give you an overview of the most important nutrients that can help strengthen your immune system. These include:
Can vitamin C strengthen the immune system?
Vitamin C is a real all-rounder for your immune system and indispensable for optimal physical defense. Vitamin C has been used to strengthen the immune system for many centuries - be it in the form of fruit, vegetables, or well-tried rosehips.
As soon as we catch a cold, we instinctively take vitamin C to keep our defenses on the go and to get well as quickly as possible.
The fact is: vitamin C actually benefits from many good characteristics that affect your immune system. Vitamin C can not only improve the effectiveness of white blood cells - but it can also protect the body from oxidative stress.
Especially in the cold season, it is important to strengthen the immune system with enough vitamin C. Unfortunately, the vitamin is quickly lost due to excessive heating or incorrect storage, which is why it can sometimes be difficult to get enough vitamin C from the diet alone.
In this case, compounds with vitamin C can be a useful nutritional supplement.
What role does zinc play in a strong immune system?
Zinc is an important trace element that we have to consume daily through our diet. Zinc is one of the real “all-rounders” among the trace elements because it strengthens our immune system, skin, and hair healthy and keeps the hormone system in balance.
Zinc is found in many foods - both animal and vegetable. Meat, fish, and seafood are among the best zinc suppliers, in addition to lentils, soybeans, and sunflower seeds. The daily requirement is between 7 and 10 milligrams of zinc daily, whereby
have a higher need.
Poor wound healing, loss of appetite, and hair loss can be the first signs of zinc deficiency. To prevent deficiency symptoms, the trace elements should be taken daily - either via the diet or additionally with a dietary supplement.
A strong immune system is important to being healthy and staying fit. It supports the body in fighting microorganisms and pollutants and protecting the cells from oxidative damage. A balanced diet, sufficient relaxation, exercise, and healthy sleep are important to strengthen the immune system and keep the body healthy. Besides, dietary supplements can help to increase the supply of certain nutrients and thus contribute to more vitality and better well-being.