Almost in the entire world autumn has arrived, and with the change of season, many are experiencing difficulties and disturbances.
Autumn is a season that offers great warm colors during the fall of the leaves, but also brings the lowering of climatic temperatures and the immune defenses can naturally be adversely affected.
Climatic variations of temperature, humidity and pressure can influence some chemicals (neurotransmitters) involved in our sphere of mood and the result are annoyances such as: migraine, feeling of fatigue, weakness, lack of energy and vitality, insomnia …
I am quite a healthy person and even if I live in Singapore where is summer during the entire year, I still experience most of these annoyances due to season change, probably because for more than 30 years I’ve lived in 4 seasons countries.
Migraine is a weekly annoyance, fatigue, weakness and lack of energy and vitality is quite present during this period, except insomnia as I sleep like a log…
Furthermore, the seasonal change affects not only the physiology, but also the psychology of people. The end of the hot season (characterized by light, heat, holidays for the lucky ones) is perceived negatively by the human psyche, sometimes inducing bad mood, listlessness, depression…
Beside, let’s not forget that with the arrival of the cold, the body is more exposed to the risk of colds.
The best way to deal with the seasonal change and, in particular, the arrival of autumn is to fortify our body.
A strong and healthy body does not feel the discomforts related to the change of season, or it feels them less clearly.
As always, a good lifestyle, made up of a balanced diet, constant and regular sport activity, correct integration and stress management is the best solution, also to face the changes of the season.
In particular, it is important to strengthen our immune defenses, which are responsible for our health.
The immune system is a complex integrated network of chemical and cellular mediators that has the purpose of defending our body from any form of chemical, traumatic or infectious aggression, which undermines its integrity.
But is it possible to fortify our immunity system? On what “forces” we can count on?
The human immune system is something really complex that has developed over the course of the entire evolution and which changes continuously.
Its task is to protect the body like a real combat team that acts in different ways: from bacteria to viruses, from fungi to parasites of all kinds, there are in fact many potential pathogens that can cause us damage.
Knowing how to protect ourselves in a different way depending on who attacks us is our great strength.
The weapons at our disposal
The situation is not entirely irrecoverable, the immune defenses can be improved.
Studies highlighting the links between decreased immune system function and older age have also seen how some individuals reach advanced ages without serious health problems, probably due to genetic and environmental factors.
So let’s go back to the initial question: can we do something to strengthen our immune system?
While we can do very little on the genetic component, following some basic principles that provide for a perfect combination of virtuous habits can help us make our defenses more efficient.
Let’s see what we can do to fortify our immunity system.
Let’s see 7 basic principles for strengthening our immune system.
Physical activity in general and in particular a targeted training that stimulates the skeletal and muscular system provides an additional defense against physical diseases and degenerations, also reducing the incidence of depressive states and predisposition to infectious diseases.
2. Eliminate the stress
I know sometimes it seems almost impossible to eliminate stress, but the stress it is often considered a trigger for illness situations due to the collapse of the immune system. We can therefore try to adopt good habits that allow us to live better, not underestimating, for example, the power of relationships and a positive attitude towards life.
Relaxation techniques or a few minutes of daily meditation to increase self-awareness can make a huge difference if practiced consistently.
3. Sleep better
A good rest is essential to help us recover the energy used during the day. Sleep and immunity are bi-directionally connected: activation of the immune system alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects our body’s defense system.
Good nocturnal recovery is associated with a reduced risk of infection and can improve the outcome of infections and responses to vaccinations, while prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation and is associated with various diseases that are inflammatory, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration.
4. Take care of hygiene
I know you’ve heard many times this, especially during this COVID-19 situation, but we get sick much more easily in the cold periods of the year because it is easier for people to stay closed in closed, poorly ventilated areas for a long time.
Simple things like washing our hands or airing the rooms could make the difference between a day of health or flu.
5. Integrate vitamins and minerals
A commonplace that is true for once, concerns the antioxidant and immune-boosting power of vitamin C.
Another vitamin to take into particular consideration for a possible supplementation is vitamin D. It is advisable to use a vitamin D supplement in autumn, when there is little sun and this vitamin cannot be produced because there is no exposure of the skin to the sunlight.
It would therefore be useful, on the advice of your doctor, to use a vitamin D and vitamin C supplement during the period in which the flu is more widespread, or better to use low-dose, broad-spectrum multivitamin supplements throughout the year.
6. Improve our diet
Integrating the supplement of vitamins without having a good food base is quite useless: the consumption of fruit and vegetables in each of the 3 main meals is very important, in at least 5 daily portions.
Citrus fruit juices are excellent in this period too: they help to reach the daily requirement of vitamin C, promote the absorption of iron and prevent colds and sore throats.
But a good amount of vitamin C is found not only in citrus fruits, but also in kiwis, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and chicory, broccoli, cabbage, pineapple, tomatoes and peppers.
Spinach is a great source of vitamin C and folic acid, which can strengthen the immune system and repair cells. This green leafy vegetable is also capable of keeping the body well hydrated and increasing energy levels.
Broccoli is one of the best-known foods for having excellent anti-inflammatory properties and providing mineral salts, thus proving to be a fundamental ally against the flu. Steam them and season with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper: they will keep their organoleptic properties unchanged.
Garlic is also one of the foods that improve the immune system. Contains sulfur, a substance capable of inhibiting bacterial growth and keeping the intestine clean. It also contains allicin and sulphide, two substances that stimulate cell reproduction and multiplication necessary to fight infections. Allicin has antibiotic, antimicrobial and antifungal effects, significantly increasing the immune system. For this reason, those who regularly integrate garlic into their diet suffer from almost 50% less seasonal ailments and recover from flu and colds in a shorter time.
Pomegranate is not only an excellent ally for the skin but also a fruit rich in nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. These properties make it a perfect fruit to fight colds and flu and, in general, to prevent seasonal ailments. Consume 1 or 2 every day at this time of the year, alone, or as an addition to salads or juices.
Royal jelly, the food that the queen bee eats, is a concentrate of beneficial substances: vitamins of groups A, B, C and E; minerals such as copper, iron, phosphorus and selenium; unsaturated fatty acids and finally also calcium. Taking a teaspoon of royal jolly in the morning, preferably on an empty stomach, would help prevent infections.
Honey also contains substances with bactericidal and antibiotic effects. One tablespoon consumed daily can help prevent coughs, flu, colds and sore throats by disinfecting the respiratory tract.
Propolis, the substance that bees use to cover the hive, is another excellent product for health. It has a high content of amino acids, vitamins, essential oils, trace elements and bioflavonoids, thus helping to stem viral and bacterial diseases. Taking propolis is advisable in case of seasonal respiratory diseases and also when the immune defenses are lowered due to stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, when stress increases, the immune system suffers, making us more vulnerable to disease.
Lentils, beans, chickpeas and peas should be consumed daily. In fact, legumes have a high iron content which makes them beneficial substances. To be eaten well cooked so that the intestine can better tolerate them, they must be eaten whole, with the peel because the anti-cancer substances are concentrated here. Even soy is fine, rich as it is in phytoestrogens capable of defending against breast and uterine tumors.
Dark chocolate is capable of strengthening a group of lymphocytes that are able to improve our defenses, teaching them to adapt to changing infections. Rich in a plant molecule, flavanol, which has a hypotensive and protective action of the heart as it lowers the amount of lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), dark chocolate has many beneficial effects. It also inhibits the activation and aggregation of platelets, slowing down the arteriosclerosis process, and also has a good vitamin content.
Vitamin C raises the immune system, stimulates the absorption of iron and prevents the oxidation of cells (thus slowing down cellular aging); Vitamin A delays the damage of aging, stimulates cellular reproduction of skin and hair and promotes bone growth.
7. And last but not least: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
This would be the only basic principle for strengthening the immune system because it encompasses all the precedents.
A healthy lifestyle, in fact, requires particular attention to nutrition and the adoption of virtuous habits.
Finally, get rid of smoking and alcohol if possible: as regards to smoking, it is confirmed that nicotine reduces the beneficial action of vitamin C; the same goes for alcohol which lowers the immune system, so as I always say: you should never exaggerate, eat and drink a little bit of everything, that’s the perfect balanced diet.
And always remember to take care of yourself!
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Photos credit: Pixabay edited by Popsicle Society