Myths And The Truth About Strengthening Immunity
Nobody likes to be ill. We all dream of having strong immunity and good health. Can immunity be strengthened and what can weaken it?
Immunity is the art of discrimination and tolerance. Discrimination and destruction of the harmful - infections and tumors, and tolerance to the non-harmful - our own tissues, food and non-pathogenic microbes, for example.
The immune system is organs and cells that differ in roles. And immunity is the result of the coordinated work of the immune system, a huge corporation in which there are several main offices, many departments, a network of training centers, police and special forces. And good bonuses for dedicated employees. Therefore, you cannot talk about immunity, as about something uniform and monotonous.
Myth number 1. Stress weakens the immune system
At first, stress has almost no effect on the body, then it weakens it, and after that the immune system gets used to the stress response.
Acute stress does not affect innate immunity - the one that takes infection first and is always with us. Acquired, it is a specific immunity, reacts to acute stress with a certain weakening.
Stress of medium duration suppresses cellular immunity. We can fight tumors or virus-infected cells. But our ability to form antibodies remains unchanged. Antibodies are blood proteins that specifically neutralize viruses, toxins and facilitate the destruction of bacteria.
Chronic stress very badly affects our body as a whole. However, the immune system learns to live with it and not lose reactivity. Long-term exposure to stress hormones causes cells of the immune system to secrete receptors for them and become insensitive.
Scientists warn that stress is terrible for the immune system primarily by changing habits - lack of sleep, alcohol and poor nutrition.
Myth number 2. Swimming in an ice hole or pouring ice-cold water improves health
The most useful thing is to accustom yourself to the cold and fresh air.
A one-time swim at Baptism is also an acute stress. Hormones help adapt to low temperatures, but the immune system works as before.
Regular dousing or bathing in ice water enhances the "pro-inflammatory background" and activates some links of innate immunity. On the one hand, it’s good. And on the other hand, we don’t need inflammation for no reason.
Why, then, do people feel better if they are tempered?
Cold accustoms our peripheral nervous system and vessels to quickly and correctly respond to temperature changes. As a result, we better tolerate the cold and create worse conditions for the reproduction of rhinoviruses - pathogens of the common cold and some acute respiratory infections.
Myth number 3. To improve health, you need to take immunomodulators and vitamins.
Immunomodulators should be taken only by prescription.
With a question about the use of immunomodulators, we turned to a specialist. Here is what a renowned immunologist says: “According to international protocols, immunomodulators can only be used in certain serious conditions. These are autoimmune diseases, AIDS, oncology, and organ transplantation.”
According to her, the immune system consists of three main stages of protection, which, in turn, contain thousands of substances. Interfering with this extremely complex mechanism is inappropriate. The work of all components of the immune response is regulated independently. With the right lifestyle and a balanced diet, immunity will adjust its work itself.
Thus, the use of immunomodulators to strengthen the immune system looks like an attempt to pour gas into a modern electric car," says the immunologist.
Multivitamins or the usual high doses of vitamin C are unlikely to improve immunity. The role of vitamin C in improving the immune response and fighting infections has not been clinically proven. The benefits of multivitamins for the immune system and other health indicators are also not proven. And an excess of vitamins A, D and E is even toxic.
Myth number 4. Antibiotics weaken the immune system
Antibiotics are sometimes necessary, and immunity weakens the wrong treatment protocol.
Antibiotics are needed for the specific and effective destruction of a bacterial infection. If the doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics, and before that determined the sensitivity of bacteria to them, you should drink everything.
Why is it sometimes bad after antibiotic treatment, and women often develop candidiasis?
Antibiotics can destroy not only bad bacteria, but also the normal flora we need. Its significant death frees up space for opportunistic microorganisms, for example, fungi. Therefore, according to treatment protocols, antibiotics should be prescribed with antifungal drugs, says immunologist.
Myth number 5. Breastfeeding and development of the child in nature protects children from diseases
Breastfeeding and non-sterile growth conditions of the baby are really good for the immune system. But this is not enough to stop any disease.
From birth, the child has nonspecific immunity and inherits a fraction of the mother’s immunity, namely the same antibodies. They pass through the placenta and are in the composition of breast milk.
But antibodies do not last long, their number is limited, and this is only one of the components of the immune system. Therefore, subsequently, the child must develop his own specific immunity.
It has been proven that children who grew up on farms during the first year of life or played with pets were less likely to suffer from allergies. Dogs bring a lot of street dirt into the house, with which the child's immune system is introduced. The presence of a cat in the house significantly reduces the chances of developing asthma in genetically predisposed children.
However, in order to well resist infectious diseases, you should familiarize yourself with them - get sick or get vaccinated. Otherwise, the immune system cannot learn to recognize and stop them in advance.
Myth No. 6. Washing hands, especially with antibacterial soap, protects us from disease.
Hand washing effectively prevents the spread of numerous infections. But antibacterial soap does more harm than good.
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC, USA) advises washing hands with soap to prevent bacteria and viruses from reaching the skin of the face, eyes and body. Handwashing is considered an effective preventative against flu and intestinal infections.
However, antibacterial substances, soap or antiseptics are harmful. Firstly, they will destroy the normal flora of the skin. Secondly, bacteria quickly get used, and therefore, the regular use of hand antiseptics will remove resistant bacteria on the skin. Finally, the common antiseptic triclosan is harmful to human health: it weakens the immune system and disrupts the synthesis of hormones.
What is an effective means of enhancing immunity?
The immune system does not need to be artificially stimulated. Its excessive activity is manifested not in resistance to infections, but in the appearance of allergies and autoimmune diseases.
A full sleep gives us the hormone melatonin, which promotes good recovery and supports the health of the immune system.
The consumption of vegetables, fruits and oils provides us with vitamins, antioxidants and plant fibers. All this prevents inflammation, supplies the immune system with the necessary vitamins and minerals, and promotes intestinal health.
Exercise effectively reduces the harmful processes of inflammation in the body, with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, and returns the immune system to a healthy course.
The most useful for the immune system are not expensive drugs, but free things.