How to keep your immune system healthy over the winter and during the pandemic?
Nowadays, strengthening the immune system has become an actual issue. Especially in winter, the defenses of the people are weakened and they are more susceptible to various pathogens. The coronavirus pandemic that threatened the whole world, is getting worse every day. The epidemic is extremely dangerous for those who have weaker immune systems. This is because when the body is weakened, it tends to catch various infections. Patients who are healthy and do not have other chronic diseases can be easily cured of this infection. Based on the advice of the nutritionist Arailym Berdikulova, we offer ways to boost immunity in winter and during isolation.
The concept of immunity comes from the Latin word “Im-munitas” (which means “to get rid of” or “release”). In general, the efforts of I.I.Mechnikov, L. Pasteur and other researchers are significant in exploring the phenomenon of immunity. Immunity is a protective action of the body that protects human health from external aggression and fights against other organisms and infections such as bacteria, microbes, and viruses. The human body overcomes various diseases due to the strength of the immune system. People with low immunity are more affected to various infectious diseases.
In general, how to maintain immunity over the winter season?
This winter is associated with a lack of vitamins in the human body and a decrease in the duration of sun exposure. In addition, low temperatures have an adverse effect on the human body.
According to nutritionist Arailym Berdikulova:
With the onset of the coldest season, it is important to maintain and strengthen the immune system. The most significant thing is to improve your health before you get any disease. Due to the lack of nutrients in the body, there is a disorder in the stomach, and people immediately rush to use the vitamins. That's basically considered wrong.
It is necessary to focus on a diet in order to avoid weakening the immune system during the winter. Secondly, it is necessary to go for walks in the fresh air, and do a lot of active recreation, and also, to avoid various emotional stresses, to sleep on time and keep a schedule. Oral hygiene should also be considered. In addition, the prolonged presence of people in a closed room also contributes to the rapid transmission of various airborne infections.
Factors influencing the decline of immunity
Currently, there are factors that contribute to the decline of the immune system or human health. The nutritionist, Arailym Berdikulova, suggested to divide the factors that lead to the decline of the immune system into several groups.
1. Frequent use of antibiotics
Antibiotics can destroy beneficial bacteria in the human body during the fight against disease. Overuse of antibiotics can have long-term adverse effects on human health. Besides that, antibiotics control the production of enzymes that are essential for the immunity. Most bacteria that work in the digestive system maintain a harmonious balance in the body. With the continuous use of antibiotics, beneficial bacteria change and turn into harmful bacteria. As a result, the immune system is weakened and the body begins to suffer from hormonal imbalances and digestive problems. The only way to prevent these issues is to use antibiotics as little as possible.
2. Lack of food diversity
Nutrition is a necessary thing for normal human life and development. Poor or insufficient nutrition can cause retardation, reduce the ability to work, decrease the resistance to various diseases, and the decrease in the body's resistance to the harmful effects of the environment, which can disrupt the vital functions of the body. The population's demand for food quality should be high.
3. Poor bowel function
Basically, 80% of human health depends on the intestines. Any diagnosis depends on the proper functioning of the small intestine. Let`s take as an example, the major ablution and the minor ablution. It is especially important to have the last major ablution before 9:00 a.m. If a person does not defecate for 1-2 days, it means that the intestines do not work properly. Poor bowel function can also be caused by improper use of water. If we use pure water at the rate of 1 kg per day, then our intestines will not have problems. On the other hand, poor bowel function has a negative effect on immunity.
4. Sleep disorders
Sleep disorders are medical conditions that change the sleep patterns of people. Some of them are serious enough to interfere with the physical, social, emotional, and mental functioning of their actions, while others do not face these difficulties.
There is no common cause for all the sleep disorders. However, some factors make all of them possible. Stress is the most common phenomenon. Most of the health problems and certain physiological factors are among the most common causes of the disorder.
How can we strengthen our immunity when we have a coronavirus and how can we recover from it?
According to many immunologists, COVID-19 is a disease that weakens the immune system. In this case, the body needs a lot of vitamins. The first step after recovering from this illness is to restore immunity. Proper nutrition is important to boost the immune system.
Nutritionist Arailym Berdikulova shared the following advice:
- “Although the virus is easily transmitted, it weakens the human immune system. As a result, the body's ability to resist any bacteria, viruses, or pathogens is weakened systematically. Even after the recovery process, the risk may also be increased in people of any age who have other serious health problems such as heart or lung conditions or diabetes. What to do in this case? First of all, it is necessary to restore immunity. It is compulsory to eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, meat, soups and take nutritional dishes with vitamins B, C, E, D every day”- the expert said.
According to the experts, the coronavirus disease affects the lungs. Even if a person had recovered, the lesions in the lungs would have persisted for a long time. Therefore, the cured person should be under the supervision of a pulmonologist. Also, if you practice breathing exercises at home, eat nutritious food, take precautions, and use your prescribed medication on time, your body will definitely recover faster.
How can the body recover after taking antibiotics?
According to the experts, the first thing to know is that antibiotics do not kill the virus. It only eliminates the bacterial infections. Many patients take antibiotics unnecessarily. The antibiotic destroys the intestinal microflora that has been formed for 5 years.
- “After taking antibiotics, the intestines need to be restored. Antibiotics are harmful to the immune system and liver. Be sure to follow a diet and drink 2-2.5 litres of clean water per day. Secondly, probiotics must be taken as well. Probiotic bacteria colonize the gut, reducing inflammation and improving digestion. They can be taken in capsule form or eaten with fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi and fermented cabbage” – the nutritionist said.
What vitamins and foods should be used to boost immunity?
Based on the expert's opinion, we noted the factors that reduce immunity. Now let's talk about the foods and vitamins that boost the immune system:
• Vitamin C consumption. Vitamin C is found in all vegetables and fruits. In general, it is necessary to take all the necessary vitamins for the body effectively and in moderation. However, they are not usually available over the winter season, you can buy vitamin C from pharmacies to replenish your daily intake, or you can consume more natural teas with fruits (such as rose hips, currants, hawthorn), herbs, citrus fruits, peppers, onions, and garlic.
• Vitamin D consumption. It helps to absorb calcium and strengthens the bones in the body. It is also believed to protect against heart disease, depression, and some types of cancer. Because we get vitamin D from sunlight, we are in an unfavourable situation in the cold season due to its deficiency. More than 36% of adults are deficient in vitamin D. That often leads to weakened immune systems and various health problems.
• Consumption of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables consist of vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients necessary for the continuous functioning of the body. For example, fruits and vegetables such as oranges, carrots, pumpkins, melons, and sweet peppers contain vitamin A, which boosts immunity. Nuts, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ and dark chocolate are also very useful. They contain an important element, which is zinc. This relieves the symptoms of the common cold and speeds up the recovery process.
• Taking biologically active supplements. Biologically active supplements (BAS) are the components of natural substances that are added to food or taken separately for the purpose of enrichment or prevention of disease. It is necessary to take additional dietary supplements. Due to the high levels of chemicals in our diet, there is a lack of the vitamins we need. That is why people get sick. Referring to the analysis, it is enough to take one type of dietary supplement per month.
Factors that boost the immune system
According to a nutritionist, it is essential for everyone to maintain good health and strengthen the immune system, especially in winter. This is because the body needs special support at this time. Immunity should also be given to those suffering from viral infections or diseases. There are several factors that boost the immune system:
• Get enough sleep. The simplest and most obvious way to boost immunity is to sleep. The body recovers and receives vital hormones during the sleeping process. Studies have shown that people who are feeling sick often sleep less. Doctors say that in addition to vitamin-rich foods, sleep and peace of mind are needed to strengthen the immune system.
• Go for a walk. When you put a little effort into your body, your blood flow will increase due to your physical activity, oxygen will be released into your body, your metabolism will speed up and get better, your mood will improve, and your immunity will rise as well. It is needful to start physical training slowly, and not exert too much effort on the body at once, but it is also necessary to increase the force on the body gradually. For example, you can start a brisk walk with 1 km per day (you can begin with 500 meters depending on your situation), and then speed up to 5 km per day.
• Do sports. There is no doubt that any kind of sport can brace your body and build up your health. That's why, you should attend the training activities and exercise more. For instance, swimming, taking cold showers, and contrast showers help to strengthen the body. The use of alternating high and low temperatures is very beneficial for the immune system. Other than this, the most effective type of sport is running in the fresh air.
• Adequate water use. Water helps oxygen enter your body's cells, which help your systems function properly. It also removes toxins from the body. You should drink plenty of water in order to prevent the accumulation of toxins and their negative effects on the immune system.
In conclusion, the whole organism participates in the formation of immunity as a whole system. Because its defence mechanisms are interdependent and act in the context of neurohumoral regulation, we must pay special attention to our health.
Have a good health and strong immunity!
(The picture of a nutritionist was taken from her personal archive, and the rest of the pictures were derived from open sources)