Summer has long come to an end, the days are getting shorter again and the temperatures lower. The positive effect of the sun is diminishing, and we may feel tired and listless more often. Jogging and other sporting activities in the rain are no fun, and chocolate and other sweets are simply the best way to combat a bad mood. This condition is ideal for catching a cold virus. Currently, it is usually not only the virus itself that causes us stress, but often already the fear of it! Fear is one of the biggest stressors in our body, which at certain moments is quite justified because it forces us to make a decision whether to fight or flee, to put it bluntly. I’ll explain why chronic stress harms the immune system, however, and give you tips for a strong immune system.
Why chronic stress weakens the immune system
In modern times, chronic stress is prevalent and has a direct impact on our immune system. What happens in our body when stress is permanent? The body secretes more glucocorticoids, especially cortisol, which makes us fit in the short term by providing energy and raising blood pressure. On the other hand, however, it restricts the immune response in the long term by inhibiting the formation of messenger substances, so-called cytokines (part of the innate defence along with skin and mucous membranes), and by reducing the function of B and T cells (the so-called lymphocytes, acquired defence). Yet these are so important for a functioning immune defence! In the short term, this is not a problem and it is what we want, but in the long term, we achieve the opposite of what we want. We weaken our immune system instead of strengthening it.
A stress-free life is utopian, there is always something. That’s why I would like to give you some tips below that, if implemented as well as possible, will strengthen your immune system.
Tips for a strong immune system
A good diet that consists primarily of freshly prepared vegetables, fruit, grains and healthy fats and contains highly processed products, industrial sugar and alcohol only in rare cases (exceptions prove the rule, as we all know). Top immune boosters include ginger, garlic, onions, broccoli and citrus fruits. Take a look at my recipe category!
Get enough restful sleep. Basically, the hours before midnight are the most valuable. Ultimately, however, it is important to find your own rhythm in order to get 7-8 hours of solid sleep every day. At the latest when you’re still a new mum, the aspect of getting a full night’s sleep is put into perspective and becomes even more important 😉
Exercise. Daily moderate exercise (brisk walking, swimming, cycling, etc.) is associated with a positive influence on the function of the immune system. So if in doubt, get off one stop earlier or cycle to work!
Time in the fresh air & sunlight. A vitamin D deficiency (we need sunlight to produce it) is associated with an immune deficiency. In winter, resort to a vitamin D supplement if necessary.
Social contacts. A lack of valuable interpersonal relationships can be as detrimental to health as cigarette consumption or obesity. Most of us have certainly noticed this first-hand in connection with the Corona Lockdowns.
A task or work that is experienced as meaningful and for which it is worth investing energy. Is there a better feeling than waking up in the morning and looking forward to the day with all its „duties“?!
Inner peace. Even, or especially, in stressful situations, you should always take a deep breath and pause for a moment before rushing off headlong. According to Confucius‘ motto „If you are in a hurry, go slowly“, or as (centenarian) Italians wonderfully demonstrate:“ Con calma, va piano!“ and „Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano.“
With these (and of course individually extendable aspects) we create the basis for a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system. What are your tips and tricks for preventing infections? How do you keep fit and healthy in the dark season? Feel free to let me know in the comments!
All the best,