How to make your body a fortress against corona, flu, and cold viruses, as well as bacteria: With these tricks, you can strengthen your immune system
The fight rages incessantly, even if you don’t notice it. Viruses and bacteria are constantly torpedoing your health. All the more, you should consciously support your immune system because the attackers are clever and diverse. With our nutrition and behavior tips, you will emerge victorious from the battle.
This Is How You Protect Yourself Adequately Against Coronaviruses, Flu, And Colds
Your immune system starts up as soon as viruses or bacteria enter your body via the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and eyes. Best of all, of course, that it doesn’t come to that in the first place.
During flu waves, as with the current corona pandemic, it is, therefore, advisable to keep your distance from other people to minimize the risk of possible transmission. But that is not always feasible in everyday life. To protect yourself from infection, you should adhere to these rules:
- Keep a distance of 2 meters from your fellow human beings
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 30 seconds
- Learn not to put your hands in your face
- Shaking hands and hugging should be taboo during the flu season
If viruses manage to penetrate your body despite all caution, a robust immune defense can ensure that the disease progresses mildly or, at best, does not even break out in the first place. And for that, you can do a lot with your lifestyle and your diet!
These Trace elements strengthen your immune system
- Zinc: Zinc is involved in forming antibodies, so it equips the arsenal of weapons against pathogens. The trace element is also part of around 160 enzymes. And zinc can cut the duration of colds almost in half: from an average of 7.6 days to 4.4 days. This was shown by a US study at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The 100 patients involved had taken around two milligrams of zinc in tablets with zinc gluconate every two hours during the day. The US doctor, John Hades from the University of Tampa, claims that an additional 10 milligrams of zinc per day protect against a cold and flu. By the way, all active athletes are particularly at risk: You lose a lot of zinc through sweat and urine. Good sources of zinc (daily requirement: 15 milligrams) are nuts, green leafy vegetables, beef, wheat germ, oatmeal, cheese, and seafood, especially oysters. As an alternative, effervescent tablets with zinc sulfate or tablets with zinc aspartate from the pharmacy are suitable for a successful defensive battle in this year’s cold season. The only downer: Zinc can cause several side effects if overdosed (more than 30 milligrams). From 50 milligrams and when taken for two to three weeks, it disrupts the copper and iron metabolism; higher doses can cause neurological and metabolic disorders and anemia.
- Iron: It increases the mobility of some immune cells and gives the phagocytes an appetite. Optimal sources of iron (the daily requirement is 10 milligrams) are meat, fennel, carrots, spinach, cereals (millet), legumes, and nuts.
- Copper: Activates the phagocytes – and with it the defense against bacteria. The best sources of copper (daily requirement between 1.5 and 3 milligrams) are cereals, fish, lettuce, and cocoa, and chocolate.
- Magnesium: do you have a lot of stress? Then defend yourself against the magnesium robber with an extra portion of this mineral because it increases the permeability of the vessels and thus facilitates the transport of the phagocytes to the place where the action is. Milk, grain, nuts, cocoa, wheat germ, and legumes are magnesium (daily requirement: 300 to 400 milligrams). Mineral waters also help if they contain more than 100 milligrams of mineral per liter. These include, for example, Heppinger, Gerolsteiner, and Apollinaris.
- Selenium: acts as a radical scavenger – a vital function. Because radicals are aggressive and cell-damaging compounds that arise in the course of the body’s metabolism. A certain number is helpful for the immune system in the targeted destruction of pathogens. But too many radicals destabilize the body’s cells. “Among other things, this weakens the skin and mucous membrane and makes it easier for pathogens to penetrate the body,” says Dr. Tilman Grune, director of the German Institute for Nutrition Research. Selenium also helps detoxify heavy metals that can damage immune cells. The best suppliers of the trace element (daily requirement: 20 to 100 micrograms) are beef and pork, fish, grain, eggs, porcini mushrooms, and Brazil nuts, as well as endive, kohlrabi, tomatoes, and potatoes.
The Most Important Vitamins For The Immune System
- Vitamin A and beta-carotene: Vitamin A stimulates the immune cells (so-called T and B cells) and keeps the mucous membranes’ surfaces moist and mobile. Therefore, eat butter, cheese, spinach, pumpkin, lamb’s lettuce, fish, and, in between, liver. Always combine with a bit of fat to facilitate the absorption of carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Gentle boiling or steaming promotes the absorption of these compounds from vegetables because the plant cell walls are broken down. On the other hand, vigorous boiling destroys the substances. Daily requirement: 1.1 milligrams of vitamin A and 2 to 4 milligrams of beta-carotene.
- Vitamin C: The power vitamin is also an antioxidant, revs up all defense mechanisms, and promotes the release of hormones from the thymus gland – the headquarters of the immune system. Vitamin C cannot prevent a cold, but it can shorten its duration by around 20 percent, according to the result of an Australian study with 95 identical twins in the mid-1990s. Good sources of vitamin C are kiwis, green leafy vegetables, parsley, rose hips, currants, red peppers, parsley, citrus fruits, pineapples, broccoli, and apples. Daily requirement: 75 to 150 milligrams. More significant amounts of vitamin C are, in most cases, pointless. “When consuming very high doses, the intestine adapts to its vitamin intake so that a relatively more minor intake of the power vitamin can occur shortly after taking high doses. In addition, daily mega doses of 5 grams and more lead to gastrointestinal complaints “, Two hundred milligrams of vitamin C daily are the optimal amount used by the body. Dr. Mark Levine found out heads the Department of Molecular and Clinical Nutrition at theNational Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The body excretes more significant amounts of water-soluble vitamins via the kidneys.
- Vitamin E: It promotes the growth and maturation of the immune cells, activates the T cells, and protects against free radicals. A daily vitamin E intake of around 130 milligrams (195 IU) lowers the frequency of infections by 30 percent, say US nutritionists at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Vitamin E is contained in almonds, wheat germ, corn flakes, and edible vegetable oils (for example, walnut, corn germ, and peanut oil). Daily requirement: 12 milligrams.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is known as a bone-building vitamin. But it is also active in the immune system. Calcitriol, a derivative of vitamin D, promotes the growth of lymphocytes, which fight foreign substances. And US scientists from Cambridge University in Massachusetts found that vitamin D is active in inflammatory reactions and increases the appetite of the phagocytes. These phagocytes fish pathogens and other foreign bodies out of the blood and digest them. The body can also produce vitamin D itself, but it needs sunlight to do so. A walk on a clear day provides you with the vital substance even in winter. Good food sources are oily fish, liver, egg yolks, butter, milk, and sardines. The daily requirement of vitamin D: 5 micrograms.
- Vitamin B12: Supports the immune system in recognizing foreign substances. Because it is virtually non-existent in plants, strict vegetarians can have a supply problem. Vitamin B12 is found in the liver, fish (herring, mackerel, saithe), meat, milk, cheese, and brewer’s yeast. Daily requirement: three micrograms.
- Folic acid: This B vitamin improves the responsiveness of the lymphocytes and is required to form antibodies. In addition, folic acid lowers the blood level of the amino acid homocysteine, a crucial risk factor for heart attacks. Good sources are Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, potatoes, bean sprouts, wheat germ, and green leafy vegetables. Daily requirement: 150 to 300 micrograms.
Liquid Strengthens Your Immune System
If you are dehydrated, the blood becomes thick and sluggish. Defense cells of the immune system and hormones and nutrients no longer get to their place of use quickly enough. That is why 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day is a must – except for high blood pressure and heart failure. The positive effect of good “hydration” also applies directly to the airways. “The mucous membranes are kept moist by a sufficient supply of fluids. They remain physiologically intact, and the resistance to pathogens is optimally preserved,” explains Dr. Regina Heckenberger from the pharmaceutical company Bayer Vital in Leverkusen. And the biologist adds: “If you already have a cold, you lose fluid that has to be replaced. In addition, the production of mucus is stimulated, the mucus liquefies,
Optimal are: low-sodium mineral water, diluted fruit juices, herbal and fruit teas, such as rosehip, and stinging nettle tea rich in vitamin C from the pharmacy. Or how about a glass of lemon juice that is not too hot every day? Such a drink provides vitamin C in abundance.
With Protein Against Flu-Like Infections
According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), it is optimal if your food consists of 10 to 15 percent protein. Those who eat less quickly lack the building blocks for the immune system, such as antibodies and killer molecules. Quinoa, a type of grain from the Andes, is particularly rich in Protein with a content of 13 to 22 percent and contains valuable minerals and trace elements. Fish, meat, dairy products, soybeans, whole grain products, legumes, and nuts are also good sources of Protein.
Against A Weak Immune System: Carotenoids, Flavonoids, And Sulfides
The so-called carotenoids, flavonoids, and sulfides are essential for the immune system. They stimulate white blood cells (lymphocytes) and act as antioxidants to protect the cells from cell-damaging free radicals. The flavonoids of beetroot, cherries, plums, apples, aubergines, red cabbage, and red wine, provide cell protection for excellent defense. These organic substances are mainly found in the outer layers of fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals – incidentally in more significant numbers in outdoor plants than in greenhouse products. Black and green tea are also rich in flavonoids. Carotenoids are found in all red and yellow vegetables and fruits (for example, tomatoes, carrots, apricots) and green-leaved vegetables such as spinach or kale as coloring agents.
Garlic, Horseradish, And Kisses
If you add one or two cloves of garlic to your food every day, you are usually less susceptible to infection. The hot tuber (or the sulfur compound alliin contained in it) disinfects the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, promotes blood circulation, and inhibits inflammation. On the other hand, the consumption of horseradish remains without odor consequences. Its essential oils also disinfect the mucous membranes. And after all that eating, a little something relaxing for dessert: kissing hard has been proven to train the immune system.
The Best Home Remedies To Strengthen The Immune System
- Keep Mucous Membranes Moist: Gargling keeps mucous membranes moist. Take a chamomile infusion, sage tea, lemon, or saltwater. These remedies also have an antibacterial effect. With saltwater nasal showers, you wash out viruses and prevent them from multiplying quickly.
- Disinfect With Tea: Thyme tea from the pharmacy soothes irritations, disinfects, and stimulates blood circulation. It helps with dry, irritated mucous membranes. Cystustee also drives away possible germs. Coltsfoot tea disinfects the airways and also promotes blood circulation.
- Oysters As An Immune boost: treat yourself to an extra portion of oysters with plenty of lemon juice. That arm you with a lot of zinc and vitamin C – a power package for your immune system. In addition, you can take echinacea press juice several times a day. Its ingredients have an infection-repelling effect – but only if you take it immediately at the first signs of a cold. Caution: hay fever candidates, in particular, have to think about the risk of allergies; skin reactions are pretty possible.
- Nose Soup: Sip hot chicken soup. It helps that nasal secretions liquefy and that you can finally breathe properly again. This is what US scientists from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach found out. Seasoned with hot ginger (which has an antibacterial effect), the soup is beneficial.
- Sage Against Colds: Sage tea and sage candy have a disinfectant and pain-relieving effect. Chamomile tea is anti-inflammatory. Drink it morning and evening. When it comes to loosening stubborn slime, thyme, eucalyptus, ivy, anise, and fennel teas are also suitable. Honey intensifies this effect (but only add it to the tea at a temperature of fewer than 45 degrees Celsius). Expectorant also has an expectorant effect: a thick syrup made from horseradish and sugar in a mixing ratio of 1: 2 (leave to stand for 8 hours in a tightly closed jar), a paste made from two cloves of garlic and honey (two teaspoons daily), or two drops of eucalyptus oil, mixed with a teaspoon of honey (should be taken two to three times a day).
- Herbal Tea For Coughs: A tea mixture made from yarrow, elderberry, and coltsfoot, sweetened with plenty of all-natural and cold-hurled honey, helps with inflammation of the bronchi. Icelandic moss tea relieves coughs and helps you sleep through the night. If you have mucus and want to accelerate the expectoration: see expectorant for a runny nose. The cough tea mixtures from the pharmacy, which also soothe irritation, consist of marshmallow root, fennel, ribwort, licorice root, and thyme.
- Linden Blossom For Hoarseness: Linden blossom tea with high-quality honey, e.g. Manuka honey, is suitable for hoarseness. Gargling with lapacho tea is also recommended. Its soothing effects are also used by the Colombian natives, especially when they have overstrained vocal cords and when colds with sore throats and hoarseness have struck.
- Exercise – Also Outside. Those who face the adversities of the season and moderate jogging or cycling will hardly catch a cold. It would help if you also exercised regularly in closed rooms – in harmony with your girlfriend. Sex boosts pretty much everything in the body – including your immune system.
- Relax Times: After the shepherd’s hour, you will recover vigorously. Not only your little friend, but your immune system also needs enough relaxation to run at full speed too.
- A Lot Of Vitamin C is essential. For example, drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice every day.
- Laughing: Laughing gets your body’s immune cells going.
Fish Oil, Marijuana & Co .: Controversial Helpers Of The Immune System
Healthy Through Fat: terrible news we would like to withhold from you. US researchers proved that fat cells don’t just lie around in the body making their owners look fat. They also support the immune system’s T cells, which fight infections.
No Power With Drugs: The main ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), apparently weakens the immune system. This was the result of laboratory studies with mice. In the process, healthy mice became infected with Legionella bacteria. They are generally insensitive if they were treated with THC simultaneously, reported study leader, Dr. Herman Friedman, from the University of South Florida at Tampa. In the experiments, which are likely to be transferable to humans, the activity of T cells in the mice, which play an essential role in the immune system, also decreased.
Are Fish Oil Capsules Dangerous? You can also get too much of the highly praised omega-3 fatty acids. In test subjects who swallowed many fish oil capsules, the number of immune cells in the blood decreased. This increased the risk of developing viral infections or cancer. Scientists blame the highly concentrated eicosapentaenoic acid in the capsules for this. It is better to enjoy fresh fish that contains the right amount of fatty acids instead of swallowing pills.
Sugar After The Top Athletic Performance: Runners are particularly prone to infections after a marathon, and the immune system is often weakened. US scientists investigated which sports drink can rejuvenate the ailing immune system. After unsuccessful experiments with vitamins C and E, the researchers ended up with banal sugar water. The sugar content of 6 to 8 percent is ideal. Either stir the drink yourself (stir 75 grams of sugar into one liter of water) or choose a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and that already has the right sugar content.
Glutamine Protects The Immune System Of Endurance Athletes: Studies have shown that intensive endurance training can weaken the immune system. British scientists found the leading cause of the drop in the body’s glutamine levels. After training, the additional administration of 5 grams of the amino acid glutamine could significantly reduce the following susceptibility to infections.
Conclusion: Proper Nutrition And Lifestyle Protect Together
Of course, even the best immune system does not make you immune to the coronavirus, for example. But it helps to fight diseases like Covid-19 powerfully and to enable milder disease courses. Nutrition plays a vital role in the immune system. But stress management, as well as adequate sleep and exercise, also contribute to resilient health. Our recommendation: Do not consider our tips as SOS measures if the first symptoms are already showing. Make sure you have regular sports sessions all year round and a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals – this will keep your immune system in top shape.