Strengthening one’s immune defenses means acting on one’s lifestyle (changing one’s diet, preserving one’s sleep, practicing physical activity, etc.). You can also use certain natural products. Vitamins, trace elements, essential oils: Santé Magazine takes stock to immunize and prepare for the arrival of cold, winter and the diseases that go with it.
Immunity refers to the body’s ability to defend itself against threatening substances for its proper functioning or survival. These threats can be microbes such as viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites, cells that have become cancerous, or a foreign body such as a splinter.
It has indeed been shown that the environment and lifestyle influence the quality of the immune response.
The peculiarity of winter
In this context, the cold seasons which coincide with a higher circulation of viruses are generally unwelcome by the body. “In terms of food, the unconscious need to build up reserves through a fattier diet can cause intestinal inflammation,” If immunity is at half mast as winter approaches, it is not without reason. In some people, serotonin production decreases between fall and winter, causing depression, fatigue and stress. However, this hormone is secreted not only by neurons, but also by cells of the immune system , and more than 95% of serotonin is also not produced by the brain but by the intestine. It is not uncommon to have cravings for sugar, especially at the end of the day and in the evening, when the days are shorter and the light is reduced. This is completely normal: the body seeks to compensate for the drop in serotonin in the brain. So, boosting your serotonin production is fighting stress, and therefore boosting your immune defenses!
Start by improving your lifestyle
Doctors advice: do not suddenly change your diet, favor seasonal products, and do not enrich your diet with sugar or fat on the pretext that winter depression is being felt. And ideally: you really need to ease off on alcoholic drinks and sugary sodas, which can deregulate the immune system.
To boost the production of serotonin, and therefore the functioning of cells: neuronal and intestinal immune systems, be sure to favor slow-digesting carbohydrates coming in particular from bread, pasta, cereals, rice rather than consuming fast-digesting carbohydrates coming from candies, cookies, pastries.
Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night, and during the day, let as much sunlight as possible into your home, or your workplace if you can. A tip stung by our Scandinavian neighbors: place some mirrors in strategic places to return daylight towards the interior of the place where you are.
Regular physical activity, such as simply walking for 30 minutes a day, by improving blood circulation, contributes to the increase in immunity cells and would reduce the risk of respiratory infection by 40%. Conversely, overtraining would have a rather negative impact: after too intense a sports session, we observe a drop in the lymphocyte count, which implies fewer potential antibodies in the event of aggression. It’s up to you to find the right balance, without forcing.
Vitamins, allies of immunity
Vitamin A: It stimulates the proliferation of white blood cells, and the production of antibodies by lymphocytes. It is also essential for the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa. The right dose: 600 to 800 micrograms per day. For a contribution, think of carrots, pumpkin or spinach. Please note, for pregnant women, supplements containing vitamin A (retinol) and in particular fish liver oil, can be harmful and cause birth defects if the recommended dose is exceeded significantly.
Vitamin C: It is a powerful antioxidant that protects white blood cells and increases their mobility. It stimulates the production of cytokines, the messengers that activate the immune response. It is found in fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily dose is 110 mg per day.
Vitamin E: refers to a group of molecules called alpha-tocopherols. These are naturally present in food, such as in sunflower seeds or vegetable oils. Studies have shown that vitamin E compensates for the loss of immune response due to aging by stimulating the production of white blood cells and its interest in the fight against respiratory infections.
Vitamin D : is known to activate the white blood cells (T lymphocytes) needed to make antibodies and destroy microbes. It is mainly found in fatty fish (cod liver and its oil, smoked herring, mackerel …). Two forms are the most common, D2, of vegetable origin, and D3, of animal origin. No difference in effectiveness between the two, but a minimum recommended intake of 5 micrograms per day potentiated by daily exposure to daylight, the production of vitamin D being mainly induced by UV rays.
Selenium and zinc, two essential trace elements
Selenium, found in emmental, cooked ham or button mushrooms. At the rate of 50 micrograms per day, it intervenes at the immune level by keeping a pool of white blood cells on alert.
Zinc, (seafood, poultry cheese …) at a rate of 10 to 15 mg per day, protects cell membranes from infections by microbial agents. All these assets, as a quarterly cure, will update your annual stocks for a winter with peace of mind.
Favor antiviral and immunostimulating essential oils
The essential oils of ravintsara , “leaf good for everything” in Malagasy, tea tree, thyme with savory or thujanol leaves and radiated eucalyptus are excellent antivirals and immunostimulants.
How to use them? In a mixture for a powerful stimulating effect, mix 20 drops of HE of ravintsara, 20 drops of HE of radiated eucalyptus, 20 drops of HE of lemon. Place 3 drops of this mixture on a neutral tablet once a day, 5 days a week, for the duration of the epidemic. Do not use in case of breast cancer, in pregnant or breastfeeding women, and in children under 7 years old.