How to strengthen your immune system with natural methods – and prepare for the coming winter
Among many systems of the human body one of the most important is undoubtedly the immune system, responsible for our resistance, being a natural barrier protecting us from infections and diseases. Its importance is particularly felt now, in the autumn-winter period, when it is easiest to catch a cold, which if neglected and untreated can quickly become the cause of much more serious diseases. Unfortunately, our immune system does not always work as we would like it to, that is why it is so important to strengthen it properly, and the best way to do it is by using natural, home-made methods known to our Mothers or Grandmothers. In no case can it be neglected, immunity changes during the whole life and only we can decide on its current level of effectiveness.
- 1 Immune system (immunological) – what it actually is and what significance it has for our health
- 2 What factors are responsible for impaired functioning of the immune system
- 3 Diseases and other ailments resulting from a decrease in immunity
- 4 How to strengthen immunity by natural, home-made means
Immune system (immunological) – what it actually is and what significance it has for our health
Defining the notion of the immune system in the most comprehensible way even for laymen, we can say that these are all the elements of our organism which are directly responsible for protection against various factors which constitute a threat to it. Speaking of elements, we obviously mean here organs, cells and tissues which together form a complicated defence mechanism preventing the development of health-threatening diseases. Our organism in the course of evolution has developed a multi-level protection, which consists of as many as 4 closely cooperating “lines of defense”, and we divide them into:
- barrier 1, whose most important element is the skin and its products, such as hair and eyelashes, stopping the larger harmful factors from penetrating into our body,
- barrier2, which consists of, among others, mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract or walls of the digestive system, intestines and stomach, secreting mucus with antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties;
- barrier 3, which includes enzymes and other secretions of the body, full of specialized cells, called prey, phagocytes produced primarily in the lymph nodes. Their action can be compared to a vacuum cleaner, absorbing a threatening bacterium, which surrounded by phagocytes is digested by them without leaving the slightest trace;
- barrier 4, containing our strongest antibodies, which are undoubtedly the white blood cells, also known as lymphocytes. They swing into action in the most unfavourable situations, when the body has already been infected by a pathogen and as a result a health-threatening inflammation has developed. Lymphocytes attack the enemy with the antibodies they produce, further proteins which vary depending on the type of infection being fought.
The immune system is also characterized by an extremely complex structure, being to some extent evenly distributed in different parts of the body, and nature itself made sure that the body reacts inst antly to everything that may threaten it at a given moment. Antibodies, headed by lymphocytes, phagocytes or monocytes, are found, among others, in the lymph nodes, intestines, spleen, thymus and other internal organs and, above all, in the bone marrow. It is specialised in the production of different types of proteins that move freely throughout the body with the blood and lymph, locating all potential sources of danger. Such a high level of protection should always be guaranteed, but the reality sometimes does not look so rosy, so we need to take care of the proper functioning of this mechanism ourselves, know how to strengthen the body’s immunity, because even the slightest negligence brings serious health consequences.
What factors are responsible for impaired functioning of the immune system
We already know how immune system is of great importance, but we still do not know what even the smallest disorders of its proper functioning may cause. As we have already mentioned, it is the body’s natural line of defense, a series of interconnected, interdependent barriers that can be weakened by the following factors:
- taking large amounts of antibiotics, which doctors already prescribe probably for all possible diseases, which is often a serious mistake, because many of them can be cured in other, milder ways. Constant use of strong medicines results not only in making the body immune to their effects, but also in gradual weakening of the immune system. Similar effects are also caused by hormonal drugs, steroids or abuse of popular stimulants, especially drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes;
- improper diet, the cause not only of growing overweight or obesity, also having a direct, in this case negative impact on our immunity. The greatest havoc is caused here by eating too fatty, hard to digest meals, disturbing digestion and the functioning of many important internal organs, including those responsible for the production of the above mentioned antibodies. That is why it is so important to eat products that speed up this process, full of nutrients, whose positive effects will be felt by our whole body at the same time;
- unhygienic lifestyle, lack of proper care for personal hygiene, which is immediately reflected in increased susceptibility to various types of infections, which in this case can happen extremely often. On the other hand, living in too sterile conditions, even obsessive attention to cleanliness of our own and our surroundings, may bring exactly the same results. We are not able to properly shape our natural immunity, which makes us more susceptible to almost all external pathogens. It is also worth paying attention to cosmetics and household chemicals used at home, some of them may contain harmful ingredients that negatively affect the work of the immune system;
- strong stress, probably already an inseparable part of our lives, of which one of the important, but usually disregarded symptoms is the almost immediate drop in immunity. States of nervous tension, disturbing functioning of practically the whole organism, also open the way to threatening diseases and infections.
Diseases and other ailments resulting from a decrease in immunity
As we can see from the examples above, most of the causes of weakened immunity are our own fault and it depends only on us whether we will be able to strengthen it properly. It is an issue which should in no case be neglected, unless we want to expose our organism to such troublesome ailments as:
- recurrent infections, with time more and more difficult to cure. Most often these are colds in the upper or lower respiratory tract, but equally often the problem concerns the digestive system, manifesting itself as constipation or diarrhea. Sometimes the infection also reaches the urinary system, gums, may also cause serious parasitic, fungal or bacterial infections;
- the feeling of continuous fatigue, lack of energy not only to work or play sports, but even to perform seemingly ordinary, everyday activities. We should be particularly concerned when these symptoms appear even with an appropriate amount of rest during the day and do not subside for a longer period of time;
- susceptibility to allergies, especially intensified during the pollen season of many plants responsible for the symptoms of the disease. Increased watering of the eyes, problems with breathing or acne changes on the skin, herpes or especially troublesome in treating urticaria, are precisely the effect of reduced production of appropriate antibodies. Skin problems in the period of weakened immunity are also manifested by slower healing of wounds, which may cause further serious infections;
- excessive appetite, which at times is difficult to control, the constant desire to eat a particular, specific group of foods, such as sweets, which means a lack in the body of certain groups of nutrients necessary for it, primarily vitamins and minerals.
How to strengthen immunity by natural, home-made means
When we notice at least one of the presented symptoms of weakened immunity, we immediately ask ourselves how we can effectively counteract it. Methods that we can use are really many, but already our grandmothers knew how to strengthen the immunity by home, natural and completely safe for health ways. You can, of course, immediately reach for strong pharmaceuticals or dietary supplements which have an equally intensive impact on our body, but taking them, we must simultaneously reckon with their possible side effects. They are sometimes so burdensome that it is better to rely on what is provided by e.g. folk medicine, and the positive results obtained will certainly be the same. There are several effective ways to fully immunize our body before the coming winter, which thanks to them we will manage to survive without any infections. All you need to do is to follow certain rules, their effectiveness will certainly also be confirmed by specialist doctors, and the most important are:
1. a proper, well-balanced, easily digestible and healthy diet
Our way of eating should definitely be dominated by dishes consisting of healthy ingredients, full of vitamins, minerals and other equally valuable nutrients. We should eliminate everything that is hard to digest, fatty and excessively burdening the digestive system, replacing e.g. red pork meat with easily digestible poultry or fish. In the diet it is also worth to take care of large amounts of vitamin C, by far the most important from the point of view of our immunity. Equally important are vitamins A, B and vitamin E, thanks to which the immune system will always work at top speed and we will not have to take, for example, flu vaccines, whose effectiveness is still the subject of many scientific discussions. When composing the daily menu it is worth to make sure that in addition to vegetables and fruit there are also such products as:
- fats of plant origin, preferably omega – 3, which source can be rapeseed oil or olive oil;
- honey, with which you can replace sugar used for sweetening tea, including the green variety, but of course you should not exaggerate with its quantity. In appropriate portions it provides us with many components improving the work of the immune system, the functioning of many important organs and body systems, including the heart and circulatory system;
- legumes and nuts, by far the richest source of minerals needed to maintain healthy bones, joints and immunity. They contain, among others, large amounts of zinc, iron, copper, manganese and a whole range of vitamins, without which we have no chance to resist autumn and winter infections;
- natural probiotics, which primarily take care of the proper functioning of the digestive system, and after all, in our intestines also form important antibodies. Therefore, in order to support the process of their production, it is worth consuming dairy products on a daily basis, drink milk, eat yoghurts, but only natural ones, without the addition of artificial sweeteners, or white, skimmed cottage cheese.
We should also follow the proper times of eating such healthy meals, and the most important throughout the day is breakfast, which gives us strength for the entire active day.
2. healthy lifestyle combined with a daily large dose of physical activity
Daily physical activity, movement in the fresh air, is not only the basis for any effective weight loss treatment, but also for the long term preservation of full health and immunity until old age. Sitting at home all the time, we are not used to changing weather conditions and when we go outside, we almost immediately fall prey to infections. Therefore, it is worth to properly toughen up our organism, maybe not necessarily by taking a bath in an ice hole, but everyday walks are certainly a good idea. Remember, however, to dress appropriately for the weather, not too thick and not too thin, and the best solution is the outfit for the so-called onion. When the temperature rises, you can take off some clothes, and when it drops sharply, put them back on. With time we will be able to move from walking to practicing some sport, with unfavorable weather it is a good idea to go to a swimming pool, and swimming will have a great influence on increasing our physical condition, helping not only to strengthen our immunity, but also to cure e.g. spine diseases, strong back pain. After physical effort we should also take care of a proper portion of rest, which of course is based on at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night.
3. natural herbal treatments effectively protecting against diseases
Although the progress in medicine is so rapid that it is difficult to keep up with it, looking for an answer to the question of how to strengthen immunity without negative consequences for the body, it is worth to bet on the strength of herbs. Their common use, also as an important component of many medicines or medical preparations, cannot be ignored, and they have been used in natural medicine for thousands of years. Appropriate species also perfectly influence the condition of the immune system, quickly removing any existing disorders in it, therefore it is worth introducing herbal extracts, both native and exotic, to your diet. As research has shown, the most beneficial for increasing the level of our immunity are:
- linden, and the infusions prepared from it are characterized by many medicinal properties, resulting from the content of large amounts of vitamin C, mineral salts, organic acids, flavonoids, phytosterols. Thanks to that, linden not only strengthens immunity, but also has diuretic properties, helps to cleanse the body from toxins, regulates digestive system, is also used as a remedy for colds. It is highly effective in relieving such symptoms as cough, runny nose or high fever accompanying them;
- nettleIt is commonly used for many ailments, both in treating acne and stopping accelerated baldness. As we have mentioned many times on this site, nettle contains perhaps the highest amount of nutrients of any herb growing in our country. These include vitamins: A, B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), C, K, and minerals: magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, potassium, iron, silicon and iodine. They are also supported by tannins, organic acids, essential oils and chlorophyll, thanks to which we can count on anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, eliminating from the body all dangerous microorganisms and toxins that threaten its health;
- ginger, one of the most effective natural remedies for colds, its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties soothe sore throats and hot tea with ginger helps with coughs and warms up, thus supporting and rebuilding our weakened immune system
- Ginseng root, a legendary plant, known, valued and widely used in natural Eastern medicine for 4000 years. A multitude of unique active ingredients, which have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and even anticancer properties, are responsible for its health properties. Ginseng root extract not only helps strengthen immunity, but also lowers the level of “bad” cholesterol in blood, significantly improves our physical and mental capabilities, alleviating the negative effects of severe stress.