Immune system is similar to a factory that works on a daily basis protecting us from microorganisms, tumor cells, and toxins by generating an immune response (=attack).It is actually a complex, made up of organs (thymus gland, bone marrow, spleen), tissues(lymphatic tissue) together with specific cells and molecules.
“Winter is coming” and due to abrupt environmental changes and overcrowding, usually there is a flu-outbreak.
How to protect myself ? Is my body ready to fight against all these microorganisms? Symptoms such as fatigue, gum issues(bleeding), diarrhea, urinary tract infections, often sore throat and wounds that are not being cured quickly, may indicate a weak immune system!All of us should adopt some daily habits that will help us ensure a good health status. Some groups of people are more susceptible to infections(children, elder, immunocompromised, etc)
A. As Hippocrates said “we are what we eat”! The golden standard for a strong immune system is the diet!
Mediterranean food is one of the most balanced diet in the world! Inspired by the eating habits in Greece and other Mediterranean countries(Portugal,Italy,Spain,etc.) It actually represents the power of: right combination, right frequency and quality of the aliments we consume. All these informations are organized in the “Mediterranean diet pyramid”
*Everything that is located near the base of the triangle has to be consumed more often and as we go towards the apex of the triangle the frequency of consumption decreases gradually.
Based on Mediterranean diet and generally in a more healthy way of living we should add the following goods to our daily program.
C (fights against free-radicals, enhances production of interferon that blocks viral proliferation and increases the iron absorption). In oranges, broccoli, strawberries, peppers and Kale salad.
E (powerful antioxidant) found in nuts, spinach, seeds.
A (plays a key-role in the formation of white blood cells that help us fight infections).Found in carrots, spinach, mango, dairy products.
B (Especially the B12,B9 can lead to decreased production of anti-bodies) Found in meat, fish, asparagus, avocado.
Is a real treasure of nature. Is a product that strengthens the action of immune system due to its antibacterial, anti-septic, and anti-cancer properties. It increases the production of anti-bodies in our body and is almost therapeutical and sedative in common cold. There are several varieties of honey:
Thyme honey, helps in Inflammation, cough, upper respiratory tract infections.
Fir honey and pine honey have both antiseptic property.
c. Iodine (regulates the thyroid gland that plays a key-role in immune system).Rich in iodine salt, yogurt, eggs, cod fish, tuna fish, etc.
d. Kefir is a fermented milk having its origin in Caucasian mountains. It is similar to yogurt and is produced from any type of milk(cow, goat, sheep, etc.) with the addition of “kefir-grains”inside.Its nutritional value goes far beyond than any dairy product. It’s benefits are:
Good source of probiotics(friendly bacteria)
Due to “lactobacillus kefiri” it inhibits some dangerous bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella, H-pylori, etc.
Has anti-inflammatory properties.
*IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO INCREASE DAILY WATER CONSUMPTION, DECREASE SUGAR AND SOFT DRINKS, AND ADD MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN YOUR DIET!!
B. Respect the hygiene rules!
Have you washed your hands today ? Do you know how many microorganisms are in your cellphone, handles, remote control etc. ? It is very important to wash our hands many times per day, mostly before meals.In schools, military camps, public transports, pathogens can be spread easily through close contact, airdrops etc.We should adopt hygiene habits such as, daily washing hands, brushing teeth, having baths, protect others while sneezing, stay home if you are ill, cover your wounds properly, clip your fingernails, do not pick your nose, and many more related to food hygiene, etc.
Having a wide circle of acquaintances helps you build a strong immune system.This happens because daily exposure to other’s microorganisms stimulate and activate T-lymphocytes to create a memory of each antigen you are in contact with.In addition to socialization, a research of the Kuopio University of Finland shows that daily exposure and reconciliation of children who grew up with pets have a strong immune system and a lower risk of having allergies, asthma, etc.
D. Other Secrets
Have a stable sleep pattern of 7-8 hours/day as our immune cells renew during night!
Avoid too much alcohol, cause it weakens the action of WBCs(our fighter cells).
Avoid the overconsumption of drugs and mostly antibiotics in case you don’t need them.
Physical activity few times every week will strengthen your immune system by making the WBCs circulate faster in your body and detect earlier antigens-invaders.It also helps the upper airway tract by driving out easily bacteria stack in there.Plus the slight increase in body temperature will stop bacteria replication and will keep stress hormones into normal levels!
E. Mother Nature
Offered us richly many natural goods, known as “superfoods”in our days.
Echinacea, a herb found in N.America famous for its powerful properties against flu-cold.Clinical Studies have shown that has anti-viral(against influenza v. Herpes virus) antibacterial(against staphylococcus aureus) and stimulant properties to our immune system.But please be informed of its side effects, such as allergies to the plant, contraindications if it’s taken together with medications(ex. Amiodarone, antifungal,).Long term usage should not exceed 2 months/year!
Lysine, is an important amino-acid essential for our body but not produced by it. Among its several health benefits, is the immune enhancement by decreasing anxiety, decreasing complications of diabetes, fights against Herpes virus!Food rich in lysine are, beef, lamb, Parmesan, poultry, pork, tuna, shrimp, pumpkin, eggs.
*It is advisable to consult your personal physician to assist you appropriately!
Be healthy and happy!
Dr. Chrysoula Valaroutsou is a Greek medical doctor graduated from UOC (english division Constanta,Romania). She is passionate about medicine and always eager to learn more. She has lots of love and loyalty towards serving mankind.
References : www.piktochart.com for the infographic, www.oldwayspt.org , http://www.healthy-cultures.co.za , https://www.psshp.fi/web/en