Our immune system protects us from pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. Some of the best immune system builders are natural. As long as our body’s defenses are intact, they represent an effective barrier to pathogens. However, pathogens have an easy time if the immune system is weakened, and the following cold is pre-programmed. Therefore, we give you ten practical tips on how you can strengthen your immune system effectively and sustainably through diet or certain behaviors.
Only if our body is supplied with all essential nutrients it can fully concentrate on the fight against buzzing pathogens. Therefore, a healthy diet is the basis for a strong immune system. So make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Fruits and vegetables are essential and the best immune system builders: as a rule of thumb, you should eat five portions of them a day (three portions of vegetables, two portions of fruit). This is approximately 400 grams of vegetables and 250 grams of fruit. In addition to fruit and vegetables, you should have a varied mix of foods. Of course, chocolate and other small sins are also allowed in moderation.
Regular exercise gets our bodies going but also boosts the immune system. Exercise strengthens not only our muscles but also our body’s immune cells. This means that pathogens can be fought more quickly and effectively in an impending infection.
It is essential for this that you exercise regularly. Plan on at least half an hour of exercise three times a week. However, you shouldn’t overdo it either: if you put too much strain on yourself while exercising, you can expect adverse effects on your immune system.
In autumn and winter, the warm air in the sauna not only does our soul good, but regular visits to the sauna also help to strengthen our immune system. This is because the constant alternation of hot and cold exercises our blood vessels, enabling them to adapt better to changing temperatures. Thus, heat loss in a cold environment can be reduced, and the mucous membranes cool down less. This makes it more difficult for pathogens to settle in the body. Therefore, to train the vessels optimally, you should go to the sauna from time to time, not only in the cold season but also in summer.
Caution: If you already have a cold, you should better refrain from visiting the sauna. Otherwise, the body can be too stressed by the large temperature fluctuations.
Stress is one of the main factors that can lead to a weakening of the immune system. For example, if one feels constantly overloaded by professional or private problems, the body secretes more of the stress hormone cortisol, which inhibits the activity of the immune system. If the immune system is weakened, pathogens in the body can more easily trigger an infection.
For this reason, try to integrate targeted rest breaks into your daily routine, especially during stressful phases. For example, take at least one hour every evening to do things that please you. Or set aside two evenings a week to spend time with family or friends. Even at work, you should always take small rest breaks where you can take a quick breath:
Nowadays, more and more people don’t get enough sleep, especially during the week. But sufficient sleep is enormously vital for our health because those who sleep too little are also more susceptible to infections. Moreover, during the night, our immune system works at full speed. For example, it uses nightly rest to produce more white blood cells.
So in the future, make sure you get enough sleep – not only at the weekend but also during the week. How much sleep a person requires varies from person to person. On average, Americans sleep between six and eight hours a night. A clear indication of a sufficiently long sleep phase is that you feel fresh and rested the following day.
Alcohol, nicotine, and stress are among the typical risk factors that can weaken the immune system. Alcohol intoxication, for example, significantly reduces the activity of the immune system for 24 hours.
Regular consumption of alcohol also leads to the immune cells being inhibited in their activity. In addition, nicotine interferes with the work of the white blood cells in the body responsible for finding and destroying pathogens. So, if possible, try to avoid smoking and enjoy alcohol only in moderation.
Ginger is considered a natural all-around talent: the root is said to be helpful for digestive complaints and stimulate our immune system. Furthermore, the gingerols it contains have an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, ginger has a high content of vitamin C.
At the first signs of a cold, ginger tea has proven to be particularly helpful: To make it, put a few slices of ginger in a pot and add a liter of water. Then let the liquid boil for a quarter of an hour. Next, remove the ginger pieces and refine the tea with honey or lemon as desired.
Like sauna sessions, alternate showers train our vessels and thus indirectly strengthen our immune system. Always start with a warm shower and end with a cold shower—first shower off your legs, the outside, then the inside. Then gradually move upwards until the whole body has become accustomed to the cold stimulus. Finally, adjust the cold water to find the temperature just tolerable.
Due to the short days in autumn and winter, we often get little sunlight during this time. However, this can harm the body because vitamin D can only be produced under the influence of sunlight. Suppose the vitamin D level in the body drops. In that case, this can harm our defenses: This is because the sunshine vitamin is presumably instrumental in boosting our immune defenses. Therefore, use your lunch break or at least the weekend for a walk in the fresh air.
Zinc is said to alleviate the symptoms of a cold that has already broken out and to be able to shorten the duration of the cold. Women should take between 7 and 10 milligrams of zinc a day in their diet—men about 11 to 16 milligrams. If one takes zinc over food auxiliary means to itself, 6.5 Milligram should not be exceeded. Zinc protects the mucous membranes and makes it more difficult for pathogens to settle in the body, but an overdose can also harm the body.
More significant amounts of zinc are found, for example, in oysters, beef, fish, seafood, oatmeal, eggs, and dairy products. The simultaneous intake of vitamin C is said to improve the effectiveness of zinc.