Strengthen The Immune System: Home Remedies – Vigorous Herbs
Our immune system has to deal with foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi on a daily basis. Only a strong immune system can fight harmful pathogens. A lot can be done to keep the immune system resilient.
How do I strengthen my immune system?
An intact immune system usually copes well with harmful influences. However, if it is weakened, pathogens such as viruses or bacteria have an easy job. In order not to get sick from every infection that is currently going on, you can effectively support your immune system by observing a healthy lifestyle. Some tips for a strong immune system:
- Reduce stress. Learn relaxation techniques.
- Eat a balanced diet. Preferably with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.
- Exercise regularly in the fresh air or do sports. But don’t overwork.
- More often in the sun: Then the body can produce vitamin D and thus support the normal function of the immune system.
- Drink enough. Still water and changing herbal teas are suitable.
- Get enough sleep so that you wake up well-rested in the morning. Because lack of sleep makes you more susceptible to infections.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly so that pathogens do not get into the face or the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth, or nose.
- Refrain from alcohol or consume in moderation.
- Stimulate the vegetative nervous system with alternating showers: alternately use hot and cold water when showering. Finish the procedure with cold water. This is how you train your immune system.
- Ventilate regularly: The right temperature (around 20 degrees Celsius) and oxygen saturation are beneficial for the normal function of the body’s immune system. Too warm or too cold air is a burden on the immune system.
The immune system: function and importance
The human immune system (including the defense system) is responsible for recognizing and inactivating pathogens and foreign substances. This complex system protects the body from harmful viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. Our immune system is characterized by a large number of cellular and molecular processes, which are also known as the so-called immune response. Both antibodies and antigens are components of the immune response. If the immune system reacts slowly or with incorrect immune responses, it is weak. Illnesses then present themselves with stronger symptoms. People with weak immune systems are more susceptible to colds, runny noses, and other infections. An immune system is strong when it is working actively and efficiently.
Immune cells are formed in the bone marrow. They mature in the thymus gland. In addition to the nervous and hormonal systems, the immune system is one of the most complex systems in the body. It consists of different organs, such as bone marrow, thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes as well as different tissues, cell types, and molecules.
The defense system is divided into two units: an innate (unspecific) and an acquired (specific) immune system. Both defense units work together and complement each other in defensive reactions against foreign intruders.
The unspecific defense system
The unspecific (innate) defense system represents the body’s basic defense. It is not specialized in certain pathogens and is principally directed against every intruder that it identifies as alien. The defense of the innate immune system consists primarily of the phagocytes, also called macrophages or killer cells. Their main task is to fight bacterial infections. The unspecific immune defense has a very broad effect and can react particularly quickly in the event of an attack by harmful pathogens. However, it can only prevent germs from entering and spreading to a limited extent. The specific (acquired) immune system is responsible for this.
The specific defense system
The specific (acquired) immune system consists mainly of lymphocytes. This special group of white blood cells is primarily found in the secondary immune organs such as the lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, appendix, Peyer’s plaques (a collection of lymph follicles within the mucous membrane of the small intestine). In contrast to the unspecific defense system, the immune cells of the specific immune system specialize in certain pathogens. After their first contact with attackers, the lymphocytes “remember” this. This is possible because the immune system produces memory cells and specific antibodies. If the harmful germs repeatedly attempt to enter the body, the lymphocytes immediately know what to do. For this reason, this specific form of defense is also known as a learned or specific immune response. Since this acquired immune defense always has to get to know the enemy before it can fight it specifically and with great efficiency, the corresponding reaction takes a little longer than that of the basic defense.
Factors and influences that weaken the immune system
The immune system is not always able to perform its tasks adequately. The function of the body’s defenses can be restricted by various factors. These are among others:
- Medicines, such as immunosuppressants
- Infections, including HIV or shingles
- Organ transplants
- Professional or private stress, especially permanent stress
- Consumption of alcohol and nicotine
- Unilateral nutrition leads to an undersupply of vitamins and minerals
- Malnutrition, such as anorexia
- Zinc deficiency due to poor diet
- lack of sleep
- Mental stress
- Physical overload, for example through competitive sports
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Environmental pollutants
Strengthen the immune system – the best tips
The strength and adaptability of the immune system are closely related to individual living conditions. In addition to diet, this also includes exercise or dealing with stress. If you want to sustainably strengthen your body’s defenses, you should pay attention to a healthy lifestyle:
Healthy intestinal flora with the right diet:
The intestine takes on important functions within the immune system because the body’s own defense system and the intestinal flora are in constant communication with one another. For example, a one-sided diet damages the healthy intestinal flora. As a result, there is a lack of cheap bacteria and pathogens have an easier time of it. – Nutrients are important for a strong immune system. Most can be produced by the body, but some others cannot. If there is a lack of essential nutrients, the metabolism and thus also the immune system suffers. In order to prevent a deficiency symptom from developing in the first place, one should eat a varied diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Because a balanced diet shapes the composition of the intestinal flora. This is very important for the immune system. One suspects that even substances that the human body cannot produce themselves influence our immune system. These are, for example, short-chain fatty acids that the intestinal bacteria provide from food. To support the immune system in the fight against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful foreign substances, nutritionists recommend a varied meal plan with lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The consumption of sugar and meat should be reduced as much as possible. Fish, on the other hand, belongs to every diet, because it provides our body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Other suppliers are also plant-based foods such as linseed oil, linseed, walnuts, rapeseed, and soybean oil. These are, for example, short-chain fatty acids that the intestinal bacteria provide from food. To support the immune system in the fight against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful foreign substances, nutritionists recommend a varied meal plan with lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The consumption of sugar and meat should be reduced as much as possible. Fish, on the other hand, belongs to every diet, because it provides our body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Other suppliers are also plant-based foods such as linseed oil, linseed, walnuts, rapeseed, and soybean oil. These are, for example, short-chain fatty acids that the intestinal bacteria provide from food. To support the immune system in the fight against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful foreign substances, nutritionists recommend a varied meal plan with lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The consumption of sugar and meat should be reduced as much as possible. Fish, on the other hand, belongs to every diet, because it provides our body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Other suppliers are also plant-based foods such as linseed oil, linseed, walnuts, rapeseed, and soybean oil. Nutritionists recommend a varied menu plan with lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The consumption of sugar and meat should be reduced as much as possible. Fish, on the other hand, belongs to every diet, because it provides our body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Other suppliers are also plant-based foods such as linseed oil, linseed, walnuts, rapeseed, and soybean oil. Nutritionists recommend a varied meal plan with lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. The consumption of sugar and meat should be reduced as much as possible. Fish, on the other hand, belongs to every diet, because it provides our body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Other suppliers are also plant-based foods such as linseed oil, linseed, walnuts, rapeseed, and soybean oil.
These vitamins help the immune system:
Vitamins are very important for a strong immune system. The basis for this is a healthy and balanced diet. The most important vitamins for the immune system include vitamin A, vitamin B2, B6, B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Each of these vitamins makes a special contribution to our immune system and is contained in a large proportion in numerous foods:
- Vitamin A: It is important for the protection of the skin and mucous membranes, which are responsible for keeping pathogens away. Vitamin A is found in liver, kale, parsley, dill, carrots, and in dried apricots, among other things.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Among other things, riboflavin contributes to normal energy metabolism, to the maintenance of normal skin and mucous membranes, and to the normal function of the nervous system. It is particularly rich in animal foods such as meat (especially in offal), milk and milk products (cheeses such as mountain cheese, Emmentaler, or Camembert), and fish such as saithe. Also in whole grain products and grain germs, in broccoli, asparagus, spinach, or kale.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxal): It affects the metabolism, hormones, and nerves and contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system as well as reducing tiredness. It also has an impact on the immune system. Vitamin B6 is found in fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as in meat and liver. Also in plant foods such as nuts, whole grains, potatoes, tomatoes, red peppers, and legumes.
- Vitamin B12: It plays an important role in breaking down certain fatty acids. It also has a key function in the metabolism of folic acid and is involved in blood formation. Vitamin B12 is also important for energy metabolism and the nervous system. It is mainly found in foods of animal origin, such as liver, lean meat, fish, and eggs.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): It makes an important contribution to strengthening the immune system, catches free radicals, and thus has antioxidant effects. Vitamin C is of central importance in the development of collagen (connective tissue, cartilage, and bones), carnitine, and hormones. It also promotes the absorption of iron and inhibits carcinogenic nitrosamine formation. Vitamin C is found in almost all animal and plant foods. With 100 mg of fresh fruit and vegetables, you can easily cover the average daily requirement. There is a particularly large amount of vitamin C in rose hips and black currants, but also in potatoes, broccoli, citrus fruits such as oranges, and kiwi.
- Vitamin D: It is essential for the health of bones and teeth. Vitamin D also plays an important role in maintaining the normal function of muscles and the immune system. The body produces the vitamin mainly in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. It can also be taken to a lesser extent through food. It is mainly found in fatty sea fish such as herring, salmon, and mackerel. In addition, also in the liver, egg yolk, and in some edible mushrooms.
- Vitamin E: As one of the most important protective vitamins, it is present in every cell in the body. Among other things, vitamin E protects the blood vessels and makes a decisive contribution to the functioning of our immune system. Vitamin E is mainly contained in oils such as wheat germ oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, as well as in nuts, fruit, vegetables, and bread.
Vitamin D for a strong immune system:
Vitamin D plays a particularly important role in the activity of the immune system. A vitamin D deficiency weakens the immune system. Vitamin D is actually not a real vitamin, but a hormone precursor (prohormone). The body first converts it into the hormone calcitriol, the biologically active form of vitamin D. The body can produce 80 to 90 percent of the vitamin if the skin is exposed to sufficient sunlight. In order to produce enough vitamin D, you should be outdoors for about twelve minutes at least three times a week. UV radiation decreases and the vitamin D level in the blood drops, especially in winter. The intake of the fat-soluble vitamin through diet alone is usually insufficient (10 to 20 percent of the requirement). Should the family doctor find a vitamin D deficiency,
Trace elements support the immune system:
Trace elements are involved in numerous metabolic processes in the body. Zinc and selenium are particularly important for a strong immune system, as are copper and iron:
- Zinc: Zinc is essential for the body’s defense system and protects against various diseases. The trace element is found in many foods. Particularly high-quality sources of zinc are meat (beef, poultry, and pork), offal, fish and shellfish, hard cheese, and eggs.
- Selenium: It protects the body’s cells from attacks by so-called free radicals. The trace element is also required for the production of thyroid hormones and for the formation of sperm. A deficiency in selenium, for example, leads to disorders of the immune system and restrictions in muscle function. It can be obtained from foods like meat, fish, sausage, eggs, and seafood. Also through plant-based foods such as Brazil nuts (only consume in moderation), asparagus, mushrooms, cabbage vegetables, and legumes.
- Copper: The trace element is relevant for essential metabolic functions and for the life of the body cells. Copper also strengthens the immune system. You can take in copper through the consumption of fish, nuts, whole grain products, legumes, cocoa, and offal such as the liver.
- Iron: The trace element iron takes on many tasks in the body, including the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, the storage of oxygen in the muscles, and the transfer of electrons in the energy metabolism. It is also important for the normal function of the immune system. It can be ingested in food, for example, through dark meat, offal such as liver and legumes.
Healthy nutrition for better defenses:
Vegetables and fresh fruits should be a large part of the daily nutrition plan. They provide many important nutrients and fiber for the intestines and intestinal flora. They also contain antioxidants that relieve the immune system. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, spinach, dark berries and grapes, citrus fruits, and nuts are particularly good for the immune system. If you eat a varied and healthy diet, you do not need any additional dietary supplements. Unless you have a medical condition that requires a certain nutrient supplement. However, it is best to discuss this with the doctor.
Exercise and sport help the immune system:
Studies have shown that even moderate physical activity has a positive effect on the immune system. Regular exercise such as jogging, cycling, or swimming strengthens both the cardiovascular system and the immune system. Since the organism is weakened and more susceptible to infections immediately after a strenuous exercise session, one should not overdo sports activities.
Relaxation for a good defense:
Acute stress and long-term stress change the work of the immune system. Acute stress strengthens the unspecific defense, while the specific defense is temporarily weakened. Constant stress has a negative effect on both forms of defense.
Stress challenges the immune system so that the adrenal gland produces the stress hormones noradrenaline, adrenaline, and cortisol. Although unspecific areas of the immune system are immediately stimulated, the specific defense is lowered. Prolonged stress leads to the fact that the unspecific immune defense is also reduced. Therefore, you should avoid too much stress and also practice relaxation methods that provide more balance. Regular exercise units with yoga, qigong, progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson (PMR), or autogenic training have been proven to increase well-being and support the work of the immune system.
Strengthen the immune system – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):
According to TCM, when all internal organs work together in harmony and the five elements are in harmony, the immune system is strong. In the teaching of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is assumed that the body is protected from harmful external influences when the Qi, the life energy, flows evenly in the body. If this flow is disturbed, the immune system is weakened. Only minor disturbances of wellbeing occur, which can lead to more severe complaints and illnesses over time. In order to strengthen a weakened immune defense again, one relies on different measures in TCM:
Sport and exercise: Increased breathing supplies the body with more oxygen and this is of particular benefit to the lungs. The so-called Lung Qi is thus strengthened and can now easily circulate in the meridians.
- Kneipp therapy: alternating hot and cold showers. This promotes blood circulation and stimulates the Lung Qi that is circulating in the skin.
- Eat a balanced diet: It is best to choose vegetables that correspond to the respective season. This goes well with polenta, rice, and millet, but also soups and fish.
- Drink enough: Warm tea, also with honey, strengthens the lungs and the immune system. Likewise hot water, for example, diluted with pear juice or pure, is good for the immune system according to TCM.
- Chinese herbs: They help to rebalance the inner imbalance. If the immune system is burdened by too much stress, the so-called liver component, according to TCM the element wood, becomes too fiery and disturbs the lungs. This has a negative effect on the immune system. In such a case, the doctor will prescribe liver herbs in addition to lung-strengthening herbs. The respective dosage depends on the age of the patient, the time of year, and the severity of the immunodeficiency.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture can stimulate the immune system in such a way that the Qi in the meridians flows again in the correct form.
- Refrain from alcohol consumption or consume it in moderation.
Homeopathy to strengthen the immune system
Homeopathy can be particularly helpful in the immune modulation of infections caused by viruses. If homeopathic medicines are given at the first signs of an infection, the severity and duration of the illness can be reduced. In the long term, infections are less common. Treatment with homeopathic active ingredients has also proven itself in patients who repeatedly suffer from infections and inflammations. The intestinal-associated immune system is of particular importance. This is why homeopathy often recommends medicines that are related to the intestines. If you are very susceptible to infection, the following remedies are recommended (selection):
- Calcium carbonicum