How to survive the autumn well: Vital substances for your immune system
Our immune system has to do a lot of work every day: harmful viruses, fungi, parasites and bacteria lurk everywhere, just waiting to enter our body. Our skin and mucous membranes are a natural protection against nasty pathogens. If the pathogens manage to overcome these barriers, our immune cells and immune organs work frantically to fight the pathogenic germs. But only a strong immune system can cope with these challenges. This is how you strengthen your immune system:
1. Pure psychological matter: How joy and serenity strengthen the immune system
This is downright good news: laughter not only makes life easier, but also healthier. If you are in a good mood, have a positive attitude towards life and stay relaxed, you will help your immune system to stay in top shape.
But how do you manage to influence your immune system with your thoughts and feelings? The immune system is not an isolated system. It is closely related to your hormonal and nervous systems. As a result, stress, bad moods and psychological stress do not remain hidden from the immune system. The body reacts immediately: the cortisol level rises and the immune cells in the blood become sluggish and lose weight overall. This makes it easier for viruses, bacteria and germs to act. Wounds also heal more slowly.
Therefore, try to be positive about life, enjoy time with family and friends. In short: Be good to yourself.
2. What goes through the stomach: Which food stimulates the immune response?
Horseradish, chilli, garlic and ginger not only give your food that little extra. The hot pods and spicy tubers can also reduce the risk of infection and strengthen the immune system.
- Horseradish is full of vitamin C, which improves cell protection and stimulates the immune system. The sulphurous mustard oils keep bacteria and viruses well in check.
- Chilli peppers are rich in vitamin C, essential oils and secondary plant substances: They also heat up pathogens. Additionally, blood circulation is stimulated. Thus, mucous membranes can prevent bacteria better from penetrating into the body.
- Garlic contains Allicin. This can strengthen the immune cells.
- Ginger is a real miracle root: antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Whoever eats ginger regularly or drinks it brewed as tea can fight incipient infections well.
- By the way: Spicy food, hot soups and teas and making your nose run. This way, bacteria that have just arrived in your nose and throat are simply washed away.
Eat colourful meals
An immune-strengthening diet should primarily consist of green, red and yellow fruits and vegetables. They provide important vitamins, vital substances and secondary plant substances that strengthen the immune system.
- Green vegetables contain a lot B vitamins. Vitamins B2 and B3 contribute to the maintenance of normal mucous membranes. Vitamins B6 and B12 support the normal functioning of the immune system. In addition to lamb's lettuce, fennel, avocado and others, you can also take the B vitamins via a vitamin B complex.
- Cabbage vegetables, in particular kale, are particularly strong in fighting pathogens: secondary plant substances (such as sulforaphane), beta carotene (a precursor of vitamin A that helps keep mucous membranes healthy), vitamin C and calcium make it so effective.
- Broccoli also contains sulforaphane. This active ingredient significantly activates the natural "killer cells" that can repel pathogens and supports the synthesis of antibodies.
- Shiitake mushrooms have an exceptionally high Vitamin D content. This vitamin fuels the killer cells in the immune system. A lack of vitamin D weakens the whole immune system.
- Citrus fruits contain many vitamins and minerals that stimulate your immune system, and of course they offer plenty of secondary plant substances.
- Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries and cranberries are powerful helpers for your immune system. They neutralize free radicals and thus protect your body cells. Their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect stops fungi, viruses and bacteria.
- Although not colourful, it is also extremely important: nuts that contain vitamin E and thus plenty of antioxidants.
Many vital substances and vitamins in fruits and vegetables are sensitive to heat. In order not to destroy them, you should eat the tender plants as raw as possible or process them into a smoothie. If you want to heat vegetables, steam them lightly instead of boiling them.
Eat food containing iron
A weak immune system can be normalized by taking iron. Soybeans, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, millet flakes, wheat bran, blood sausage, pork liver and beef ham are full of iron. Some people have a particularly high iron requirement, for example women during or after pregnancy or patients with chronic illnesses. An unbalanced diet can also cause iron deficiency. In order to cover the daily iron requirement, a supplement with iron can be appropriate. The nutrient zinc is also needed for a normally functioning immune system.
3. How to use small habits to repel viruses and germs
Open the window
Open the window – let fresh, moist air in. If you ventilate for several minutes three to four times a day, you create a room climate that keeps you healthy.
Keep your hands off
Countless viruses and germs stick to our hands. This is simply unavoidable. Regular hand washing is a must. Also try not to touch your face so often. This happens surprisingly often. Approximately every four minutes we touch our eyes, nose or mouth, often unconsciously – on the phone, when thinking or adjusting glasses.
Heat and cold
Regular sauna sessions strengthen the immune system. Warm and cold alternating showers also help to strengthen the body. Always end with a cold shower. By alternating hot and cold, the body learns to regulate the blood flow to the mucous membranes.
Sport keeps you fit and reduces stress. Those who jog or swim moderately on a regular basis are less likely to fall ill. Relaxing yoga, autogenic training, meditation or Qi-Gong also bring the body and mind into balance. Those who are ill should take a break from sports and only train when they are fit again.
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Picuture: Fotolia | drubig-photo, istockphoto | Ales_Utovko