How to boost your immune system?

Prof. Dr. Verena Briner
Prof. Dr. Verena Briner
Diagnostics
Nowadays, fears and concerns related to COVID-19 disease have prompted online searches and many scenarios and misinterpretations of the illness were made available about how to strengthen the immune system.

We ask so Prof Dr. Verena Briner, Head of the Medical Centre at Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence how does the immune system work and how several key healthy lifestyle habits can help keep your immune system working to stave off illness and infection.

What is immune system?

The immune system is actually a defence system. It comprises of various components such as natural barriers (healthy skin, mucous membrane) and many mediators (complement, cytokines, etc.), antibodies and cells (e.g. macrophages, granulocytes, lymphocytes) in the blood fencing against bacteria, viruses and parasites but also cancer cells.

It does not reside in one single part of the body—rather, it is made up of a network of cells, molecules, tissues, and organs in a perfect coordination working together to protect the body. Each of these elements plays a key role in how the immune system works and its function as a whole, which is crucial to preventing infection or disease.

what is the immune system main function? 

The body has to be protected from harm. The immune system successfully fends off a large number of germs and substances every day.

There are two well-known immune system defense mechanisms. The innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system provides a general defense against common pathogens (any bacteria, virus, or other disease-causing microorganism), known as well as the nonspecific immune system.

The adaptive immune system targets specific threats and learns how to respond precisely against diverse viruses or bacteria with which the body has already come into contact. The various elements of the immune system work together to ensure both types of protection for the whole body.

 

what controls the immune system?

There is an ingenious regulation of a complex system. Blood components such as complement factors may cover foreign particles and cells incorporate this to degenerate or may release cytokines into the blood (these can cause a rise in the body temperature and activate some more cells). 
In addition, there are antibody producing cells against viruses, which protect against the disease when exposed again with the same virus. Many different cells are involved to balance the interplay. And when germs or foreign substance are eliminated, the immune response shuts off.

 

wHICH main diseases are associated to how our immune system functionS?

In diseases, the immune system can be disturbed on different levels. The consequences are mostly severe. Bacteria may enter the body via diseased skin to cause inflammation and spreading to the blood. If, for example, white blood cells (granulocytes) are missing, bacterial infections up to fatal sepsis are common. In the case of missing lymphocytes, so-called opportunistic infections (fungal infections, tuberculosis) are more common and a lack of complement factors can lead to recurrent meningitis. Interestingly enough, rarely the immune response is excessive to harmless substances, so that allergic reactions occur (e.g. asthma) or antibodies are directed against the body's own tissue, (autoimmune diseases such as lupus occur) or antibody-forming cells produce uncontrolled antibodies (myeloma) or proliferate uncontrolled (lymphomas).

 

how do you test your immune system?

The personal history may give a hint about the quality of you immune system (e.g. recurrent infections). The defence of our body, our immune system can be strengthened on different levels. The good care of the skin is a first barrier. The analysis of the blood for different components such as blood cells, immunoglobulins, inflammation proteins, vitamins, micro-nutrients allow to detect and treat a corresponding deficit.

Many disorders can weaken the immune system and cause a person to become immuno-compromised. These immunodeficiency disorders, which range from mild to severe, can be present from birth or may occur as a result of environmental factors. Healthy nutrition, sports or fitness activate blood cells and cytokines, which interact with the immune system.

 

why is it important to maintain and boost your immune system?

Reading the above, it is clear, that the immune system has to work perfectly, otherwise we are at high risk of becoming seriously ill and even more severe conditions might occur. In diseases, the immune system can be disturbed on different levels, but the consequences are mostly severe. 

Bacteria may enter the body via diseased skin. If, for example, white blood cells (granulocytes) are missing, bacterial infections up to fatal sepsis are common. In the case of a cellular disorder, so-called opportunistic infections (fungal infections, tuberculosis) are more common and a lack of complement factors can lead to recurrent meningitis.

 

how can one boost his own immune system?

Healthy nutrition is the basic.

The skin and mucous membrane, the first barrier require good care and nutrients. The complex interaction of the factors of the immune system is also dependent on vitamins micronutrients and trace elements.

Vitamin A, B6, D and folic acid, as well as zinc are necessary for the functioning of the immune system.

In addition, scientific studies have shown, that regular exercise about three times per week for 45 minutes activates hormones and substances in the body to contribute to a healthier life. The control group without any activity had more viral infections such as bronchitis.

 

Keep stress under control

It is scientifically proven that a long-term stress exposure leads to chronically elevated levels of as the steroid hormone cortisol. The body relies on hormones like cortisol during short-term bouts of stress. Cortisol has a beneficial effect of actually preventing the immune system from responding before the stressful event is over (so your body can react to the immediate stressor). But when cortisol levels are constantly high, it essentially blocks the immune system from kicking into gear and doing its job to protect the body against potential threats from germs like viruses and bacteria.

Sleep well and enough

Your body recovers while you sleep, it heals and regenerate itself. Sleep is a time when your body produces and distributes key immune cells like cytokines (a type of protein that can either fight or promote inflammation), T cells (a type of white blood cell that regulates immune response), and interleukin 12 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine). A min of 7 sleep hours is paramount to allow the body to recover. A sleep deprivation will cause elevated cortisol levels which doesn’t help the immune function

Laugh often

While not yet scientifically proven laugh can help in boosting the immune system.  When you laugh the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged. And when this happens the body is asked to slow down thus producing endorphins that signals stress hormones to cool down. With this, the body responds and blood pressure drops, heart rate slows and happiness replaces anxiety / stress. In fact any muscular movement will stimulate and increase the flow of lymphatic fluid, the body cleanser main driver, but laughter might prove to be one of the most painless and beneficial for accomplishing that goal.

 

Having the Check up PRO program at core, our medical team highly recommends our 4 day – Immunity Boost PRO retreat. In a world smaller and more connected than ever before, with more and more of us travelling every year, it is becoming common for viruses to spread and affect many people. Our modern & global medical system can develop sophisticated treatments fairly quickly, but we must also agree that it is most crucial to have a healthy immune system above all to fight these infections naturally. Sleep & rest, healthy nutrition, quite time & meditation, activities and longer outdoor time, hydration, less alcohol and coffee. 

We lead you to a better life!

 

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