What measures can the immune system build? Which are unsuitable?
Numerous measures are said to have a strengthening effect on the immune system, but not everything that is supposedly good for the immune system fulfills expectations. Whether exercise, saunas, lots of vitamins in the form of fruits and vegetables or special home remedies - the range of options for strengthening the immune system is wide. Doctors have now put together a particularly promising effect in a recent press release from the news agency "dpa".
In fact, people's individual defenses are extremely different. While some bathe in ice water without developing any signs of a cold, a short hypothermia is enough for others to lie in bed with cough, runny nose and hoarseness for a few days. Why the body's defenses are so different has not yet been conclusively clarified. Hardening is often assigned a special role, but this actually only helps little, reports Professor Stefan Meuer, Director of the Institute of Immunology at Heidelberg University, in the press release of the news agency "dpa". Here, other measures that are proven to strengthen the immune system are preferable.
Immune defense needs to be supplied with nutrients Regarding the function of the immune defense, Hajo Haase from the Institute of Immunology at the University Clinic of the RWTH Aachen University explained that the "immune system consists of different cells and soluble factors (which ward off pathogens and tumor cells." As soon as pathogens are the first natural ones Defense barriers of the body, such as the skin or mucous membranes, have been combated by the immune cells, which should make them harmless and prevent them from multiplying. In order to guarantee the functionality of the immune system, the immune system has to be supplied with certain nutrients, Haase continues. "If you omit zinc, for example, you can clearly see which cells are missing and which defense mechanisms are failing," explained the doctor. Copper, iron and vitamins such as A, C, D and E are also important, according to Haase, all ingredients that also belong to a balanced diet.
Nutrition has a clear effect on the immune system The doctors quoted in the news agency's press release agree that nutrition has a significant effect on the immune system. When asked whether nutrition affects immune defense, Prof. Stefan Meuer replied: "Definitely yes, but we still don't know how." Because the intestinal flora plays a crucial role in the metabolism of the food consumed. Trillions of bacteria form the so-called microbiome, i.e. the entirety of the microorganisms that live on and in the human body. Its composition can vary greatly from person to person, which means that the intestinal flora is also subject to considerable individual differences. "Targeted changes through nutrition can only be recorded once the microbiome has been decoded," emphasized Prof. Meuer. However, this could take a few more years. Therefore, "most of the insider tips on nutrition are pure speculation."
Mixed foods with the strongest effect on the body's defenses Karsten Krüger from the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Gießen explained that given the nutrients required by the immune system, it is certain that "normal mixed foods have a maximum effect on the immune system." Hajo Haase also emphasized that a healthy diet is important for a good immune system. However, individual foods cannot have a targeted influence on the immune system. Using the example of the chicken soup, he explained that the patient may feel better at first through the addition of nutrients, salt and something warm, but the chicken soup has a short-term effect on the general condition and the immune system is not affected by this.
Exercise strengthens the immune defense The doctors also agreed that exercise has a positive influence on the immune system. "Moderate training - i.e. swimming, cycling or jogging - strengthens the immune system regardless of rain, snow or sun," quotes the news agency "dpa", Karsten Krüger's statement. “We assume that we stimulate and stimulate the immune system a little with every training session. Then it works better, ”explained the sports doctor. Furthermore, sport can help reduce stress, which also has a positive effect on the immune system. According to Prof. Meuer, permanent stress causes the body to release more cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. "Psychological well-being is therefore very important," continued Meuer.
Hardening without a proven effect on the immune system With regard to possible hardening measures, such as taking a sauna or going for a walk in the drizzle, Professor Meuer explained that "there is not a single scientific study that shows that hardening has an impact on the immune system." Nevertheless, it is a positive effect of the hardening measures, as for example regular visits to the sauna or cold water baths improve the body's own thermoregulation, added Karsten Krüger. This allows the body to cool down more easily in summer and conserve its heat capacity in winter. “But this includes more than walking in the rain. The effect is only scientifically visible when you go to extremes, ”continues Krüger.
Naturopathy offers numerous approaches to strengthening the immune system Unfortunately, the news agency does not go into further detail on the approaches of naturopathy to strengthening the immune system, such as autologous blood therapy, hydrotherapy or measures in herbal medicine, although these are widely used in practice. Here, according to the holistic approach of naturopathy, the combination of psychological and physical well-being is often specifically addressed, which should have a positive effect on the immune system, at least in terms of Prof. Meuer's stress relief. (fp)
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