So, now it’s almost time: Christmas is just around the corner. The anticipation is probably huge for many of us, despite or just because of Corona. Therefore, there is more to prepare for me this year than “just” the Christmas gifts for my loved ones. Because this year, probably more than ever, the focus is on health. In this blog, I’ll tell you how I’m preparing my immune system for the holidays.
For those who are particularly knowledgeable about the immune system or still remember my blog post earlier this year, you can probably skip the next two sections. For everyone else, I’ll briefly summarize the basics of our immune system again here.
WHAT IS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM ANYWAY?
Of course, this is not explained in two words. Roughly speaking, it is a complex system that protects us from pathogens.
In addition to the barriers in our body, defense cells and defense substances contribute to our protection. The cells include the B and the T lymphocytes, which then again form subgroups with different functions – but one after the other. The B cells produce antibodies that can neutralize pathogens, for example. Some of the T cells, the cytotoxic T cells, kill pathogens. In addition, the defense cells produce many substances that help fight disease. For example, some of these messengers cause fever, which then kills the pathogens, or they attract more defense cells to the affected region in the body.
IS A GOOD IMMUNE SYSTEM INNATE?
I must confess, I am always a little confused about this. Actually, it is only important to understand that from birth (and even in the womb) our body is equipped with barriers (such as skin and mucous membranes), cells (the phagocytes) and substances, and thus fights many pathogens. This response is quite untargeted and wild, calling upon our acquired/specific immune defenses for help. Because our immune system is capable of learning and can react in a targeted manner with appropriate cells, it is so powerful.
This is also the idea behind (active) vaccinations. We show the body an attenuated pathogen and our immune system specializes in this fight. When we then encounter the pathogen in the real world, our body is prepared, can render the invader harmless and protect us from the disease. Normally, memory cells are formed that are ready for life and produce the appropriate antibodies if the worst happens.
Therefore, this is also a great hope in the management of the Corona pandemic. The alternative to active vaccination is passive vaccination, in which antibodies are inoculated that neutralize the pathogen. Unlike active vaccination, however, these are not replicated and therefore must be repeated.
My take-home message for you: Your immune system is a miracle thing, made up of countless components and players that work together to protect you (usually*). For those of you who are now even more confused than before, I’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter at all, because our bodies (usually) take care of it themselves. Especially if we support it.
WHAT CAN I DO TO SUPPORT MY IMMUNE SYSTEM?
We can strengthen our immune system and provide it with everything it needs to fight foreign pathogens effectively. As individual as our immune system is, as individual are probably also the possibilities to support it. At this point I would like to encourage you to listen to your body and trust it. And I’m probably not giving away any secrets when I tell you about the valuable properties of a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Nevertheless, I want to emphasize it here again, because the valuable vitamins and minerals are true gold to strengthen our immune system. Citrus fruits in particular are so wonderfully rich in vitamin C. My favorites during Advent include hot lemon in the morning and lots of oranges and tangerines – but of course it can also be a baked apple. If you like it a little more exotic, you’ll find countless date-sweetened treats among my recipes.
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s hard to imagine the Christmas season without cinnamon as an ingredient – whether in the form of cinnamon stars, as a topping on baked apples or in my porridge and even in savory dishes. Not only the taste convinces me, but also the positive effect that cinnamon has on my body. Studies have shown that this little wonder drug can measurably lower markers of chronic inflammation in our bodies. Permanently high inflammation markers in our body prevent our immune system from protecting us optimally. So it may be a pinch of cinnamon more 😉
There are countless studies that look at the positive and immune-boosting effects of garlic. It is also indispensable as a component of Ayurvedic medicine. Garlic consists of many components that have a positive effect on our immune system. The effect of alliin is considered to be particularly potent. Alliin reduces to a high degree the formation of pro-inflammatory messenger substances.
If I have the feeling that a cold is coming on, a hot garlic soup can warm me up properly. But if you want to enjoy the flavor a little less intensely, I can also recommend simply adding garlic to baked vegetables – delicious!
Admittedly, the smell is not always perceived as pleasant by those around you, but that’s not so bad in covid times, since we keep our distance anyway. Another tip is to share the pleasure. Once you’ve eaten it yourself, the smell suddenly doesn’t bother you at all.
This miracle tuber has become increasingly famous in recent years – and rightly so. In particular, the gingerols in ginger not only provide the so typical spicy taste, but also seem to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. The pungents, which include gingerols, appear to act on specific receptors (vanilloid receptor), thereby exerting their anti-inflammatory effects. They also influence inflammatory messenger substances and promote blood circulation.
This not only gives us a warm feeling, but also promotes the removal of invaders. So for me, ginger is a staple in my diet. In the summer as a cool ginger shot and in my green bowl and in the cold season as a hot tea. What are your miracle foods and how else do you boost your immune system?
* Of course, there are exceptions! It doesn’t work well enough for some immune-suppressed individuals, and in the case of autoimmune diseases, it attacks its own body with overzealousness.
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