Wash your hands thoroughly, touch your face less, wear a mask indoors and in transport – this is what the pandemic has taught us. It also made me think about how to take care of my immunity every day. Especially now, in the fall. We chose a few tips on how to maintain health and reduce the risk of getting sick from our books.
Stimulate the Lymph
Immunologist with 20 years of experience Jenna Macchioki says: if you know nothing about lymph, then you know nothing about health. This huge network of vessels and nodes is the highway for immune cells. Through it, white blood cells patrol every corner of the body, keeping track of infections, cancer, and other troubles. It is involved in the transport of fats and detoxification of the body. When lymph does not flow properly, we become vulnerable to infections.
Lymph moves around the body due to daily muscle contractions. Therefore, a sedentary lifestyle is the worst thing you can do for her. Moving more is our salvation.
Even a single exercise is useful: after it, the number of natural killer cells (guardians of immunity) increases 10 times.
Get enough sleep to take care of your killer cells
Sleep and immunity are interconnected. Increasing your sleep duration is unlikely to make you completely immune to disease. But its lack will quickly lead to imbalance. It is enough to sleep poorly or not enough for just one night, so that the number of killer cells in the body, which are the first to fight viruses, is sharply reduced. This reduction – sometimes up to 70% – means that we are practically not protected from dangers.
For those who sleep an average of 6 hours or less per night, the risk of catching a cold in the presence of a virus nearby is four times higher than those who, on average, rest more than 7 hours a night at night. It is possible that this is why, by the end of the New Year’s party season, some begin to get very sick. Research also shows that those who sleep little or poorly are less likely to respond to vaccines, increasing their risk of developing more serious illnesses, especially in older people.
Get out in the sun more to get sick less often
Vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation of the immune system and contributes to the implementation of its diverse functions. For example, T-cells, the main regulators of immune processes, with a lack of this vitamin, stop running around the body at the right speed. Vitamin D helps the antimicrobial functions of the skin, lungs and intestines, which provides protection against many infections; suppresses the immune response to inflammatory cells Th1 and Th17, which are associated with the development of many autoimmune diseases; supports the work of killer cells.
Recently, doctors have come to the conclusion that with a high content of this vitamin, it is easier for the body to fight a number of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, asthma, depression, cardiovascular disease and cancer. But at the same time, about half of the inhabitants of the Earth are deficient in vitamin D.
How to get the right dose? It is developed quite quickly: according to WHO, it is enough to spend only 5-15 minutes in the sun several times a week, but always without a protective cream on the hands and face. However, if you live in northern latitudes, you may not get the right amount of sunlight throughout the year. Oily fish and fortified milk are good sources of vitamin D.
Make your diet varied and the microbes will take care of you
Everyone has a companion who shares their lifestyle, passions, travels. These are microbes. They are responsible for the digestion of food, control the absorption of calories, provide vitamins, support the immune system. But if 15 thousand years ago a person regularly consumed 150 ingredients weekly, today the diet consists of only 4. The intestinal microbiota is getting poorer. This seems to be the cause of allergies, autoimmune diseases, obesity and diabetes.
Set a goal to try 15-20 foods a week. The more varied your diet, the happier your microbes and the healthier you are.
Remember that you can pick up the virus even from someone who has recently been ill
Every now and then we hear (and say ourselves): “It’s just a mild cold, I’m almost not contagious.” So is it possible to infect others if the disease subsides? Can.
If there are almost no symptoms, this does not mean that the virus is weak. It is likely that a person is lucky to get such a set of compatibility genes that helps the immune system to effectively fight a particular type of virus. But even with mild symptoms, it can infect others, and someone can become seriously ill, especially the elderly and children. Try to have less contact with those who have just begun to recover, give the person the opportunity to recover.
Love More – Loneliness Kills
Dr. Dean Ornish , co-author of Illness Canceled, reviewed hundreds of studies (now tens of thousands). These experiments show that people who feel lonely, isolated from society, are 3 or even 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely from various diseases compared to those who love and are loved, who have a social circle.
Loneliness causes chronic emotional stress and overactivates the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, in lonely and depressed people, inflammation is constantly increasing, provoking changes in the concentration of C ‑reactive protein, interleukins, as well as biological mechanisms, which we wrote about earlier. Researchers have shown that loneliness also turns on the expression of over a thousand genes associated with chronic disease. Anti-inflammatory genes, on the other hand, are turned off.
If loneliness kills, then love and close relationships have healing properties.
For example, thanks to social support, the expression of genes in the brain, especially in that part of it that is responsible for stress, in the amygdala, changes, as a result of which the stress response is mitigated. Intimate relationships — those that save us from loneliness and restlessness — heal us. It can be a romantic connection, a platonic love for a friend, a child, a parent, a sibling, a teacher, and even affection for an animal. Especially for an animal! Studies have shown that when a person looks into the eyes of a dog, both increase the level of oxytocin (a hormone associated with the formation of social bonds), about the same thing happens when a mother looks into the eyes of a child.
Take “forest baths”
The concept of ” biophilia ” is associated with the fact that any person has a need to come into contact with nature; This word comes from Greek and means “love of living things and life.”
Contact with nature helps to relieve stress and achieve a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the nervous system. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (literally meaning “forest bath”) originated in the early 1980s, when doctors began actively recommending that patients go to the forest to improve their well-being. After many hours of walking through the forest, the level of cortisol in the blood drops for many, and immune cells begin to behave more actively. The healing effect is provided by volatile aromatic substances called “phytoncides” formed by plants – these are the very aromas that we inhale with pleasure in a field or forest. Perhaps the need to be in nature was formed in the course of evolution also so that we could replenish our vitamin D reserves.
Nature has a beneficial effect on killer cells – our main weapon in the fight against viruses; they are also responsible for the recognition of cancer cells.
Those who can afford to spend a lot of time in nature have a significantly lower risk of chronic diseases. It has even been noticed that if you can see trees from the windows in a hospital, this contributes to the recovery of patients and even allows you to reduce the amount of painkillers and drugs that speed up recovery after surgery.