The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work as a team to defend ourselves against “invaders” (pathogens, parasites, allergens, toxin). Your job is to help recognize and keep them out of our body and, if you can’t, find and get rid of them.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, citizens are especially concerned with keeping the pathogen away. Frequent hand washing and avoiding close contacts are the main measures to prevent infection. But also, we should try to make our defenses as high as possible. There are factors that influence our immune system and we cannot control such as genetics, age, sex, chronic diseases … Yes, there are others, related to lifestyle, that we can modulate. That is why it is important that during confinement we avoid falling into unhealthy habits such as unbalanced diets, tobacco, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption …
The Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI), in a document prepared by doctors Alfredo Corell and Africa González, points out the aspects in which we can influence to improve our defenses:
-Vaccination: It is one of the best preventive measures to avoid contracting infectious diseases.
-Exercise: Moderate. So negative is sedentary lifestyle as a very intense activity because it increases the number of infections. “In fact, elite athletes end the immunosuppressed seasons,” they warn in the SEI document.
-Sleep: To have a correct circadian rhythm, with the production of hormones that are necessary for the development of leukocytes (melatonin), it takes 7-8 hours of sleep.
-Adequate hygiene will avoid exposure to pathogens.
-Consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco. Tobacco use is very harmful because “it alters the entire line of defenses in our respiratory mucosa, and is at the origin of the development of various types of cancers,” they point out. Likewise, the consumption of distilled alcohols and drugs has an “immunosuppressive effect, with mechanisms very similar to those that occur in situations of depression or stress.” “Until recently, it was indicated that a moderate intake of wine or beer could be” immunosaludable. ” We must here deny it and distinguish that a pleasure during a meal should not be identified as healthy: that it does not negatively affect the immune system is not synonymous with health (there are many very harmful side effects), ”they point out in the SEI document.
-Food: With a varied diet, rich in legumes, vegetables (fiber is the best prebiotic), cereals, fresh fruits, meat, eggs, fish, dairy, we have the adequate nutrients for a correct immune system. The SEI highlights some macro and micro nutrients that if we remove from the diet will produce an increase in infections: for example, zinc, selenium, vitamins C or E, among many others. But they assure that it is not necessary to take any supplement in normal conditions. They do recommend avoiding “extreme diets” that exclude essential nutrients from our daily diet.
-Avoid stress: Living with permanent stress is very harmful because cortisol (immunosuppressive hormone) is released. On the contrary, a relaxed life is very beneficial for the immune system. “People with older and better social relationships have their defenses more careful. Again, because the state of satisfaction helps to release immunopotentiating hormones “, they assure from the SEI. .