Give your immune system a boost!
We refer to resistance as a healthy state of the immune system. The immune system depends on the combination of physical barriers, organs, molecules and antibodies that protect you from unwanted intruders. Intruders could be bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites. On average, the body is being attacked by viruses seven times a day. Normally, these viruses will be killed by your immune system through several steps in a defense mechanism of your body. When you live a healthy lifestyle (e.g. exercise regularly, sleep well, eat various fruits and vegetables) you can support different parts of your immune system to function optimally. Our first and oldest defense mechanism is the skin. The skin is a barrier against unwanted intruders. A second defense mechanism is your gut, the microbiota in your bowels prevent pathogens (the intruders that can make you sick) from attaching and developing in the bowel. When a person is experiencing a heavy amount of stress for a longer period, it is more likely that one of the pathogens (the intruders) will sneak through the barriers and possibly get a chance to make you sick.
How to improve your resistance?
“If you follow a healthy diet, you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from food”. Several contributors are necessary to improve your resistance. First of all: eat a variety of healthy foods. Fibers are an important source of energy for the microbiota. It is recommended to eat enough whole grain products, vegetables, fruits and legumes. Secondly, proteins are important. Your body uses proteins to build and repair tissues, as well as the production of antibodies. Another important factor in the immune system is vitamin D. Especially in darker days or if you stay inside a lot, your levels of vitamin D could be lower than usual. Therefore, eating fish and eggs could be a great source of vitamin D. If you are vegan, it can be wise to take a supplement of vitamin D on a regular basis. There are a lot of rumors about taking several vitamin supplements, but research shows that if you follow a healthy diet, you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from food.
Physical and mental stress
Stress is like an extreme sport, if you experience stress constantly, your immune systems weakens because you run out of energy to support your defense mechanisms. Try to stay in a healthy and regular rhythm of sleep, exercise and relaxation. Exercise is good for the immune system since it enhances the blood flow and produces pleasant particles that make us happy. Don’t overdo it, especially if you are not feeling very well, take a day off or choose a shorter/lighter exercise. Note that extreme workouts could also weaken the immune system, since you use important energy in these workouts that otherwise could be used to build resistance.
And now, with corona virus?
Stay safe, stay at home as much as you can. And if you go out, really maintain the 1.5 meter distance from surrounding people. Get enough sleep, eat a varied diet, and dont forget to keep staying fit. There’s not much to it! We can only get through these times together.
Who’s Dr. Kirsten? Kirsten Pothof (27, living in Amsterdam) will provide us with all the answers to your burning Health questions every two weeks. Aiding you with tips and tricks so you can train responsibly!