Fight Corona by boosting immuno: Immune defenses are at the forefront of the fight against viruses. An immunologist explains how they work and what to do to keep them healthy (by dismantling some common beliefs)
In this moment of medical emergency, all attention is rightly directed towards the coronavirus . But hundreds, thousands of people are in bed with the ‘classic’ seasonal flu or are fighting against what are now considered ‘simple’ colds and sore throats. Given the situation it is important to get sick as little as possible even of these common seasonal ailments, to avoid crowding the medical offices and clinics. This is the time to rely on our very important immune system . But how does it work? What should we do to keep it healthy? Is it really possible to strengthen it so as not to get sick? To understand each other, we interviewed Dr. Guglielmo Scala, immunologist registered on the Dottori.it portal.
Let’s start with a review: how do the immune defenses work?
“To explain how immune defenses work, we must first specify that there are two types of immune response: the non-specific innate one and the acquired or adaptive and specific one. The innate nonspecific immune defense concerns the defenses present in our body since birth. It acts against any external agent deemed threatening, in a natural way. The organism is equipped to defend itself with immediate response to environmental aggressions and this defense starts from the tissues in contact with the outside (respiratory and digestive skin and mucous membranes). The acquired specific immune defense concerns the immune response against the external agent and develops more slowly, following a first contact. We no longer speak of a generic response to aggression,
What weakens them?
“Today, the main causes of the weakening of the immune defenses are: malnutrition; improper nutrition (for example, inadequate protein intake compromises the production and functionality of those glycoproteins which constitute a fundamental part of the immune system); advanced age; diseases that weaken the immune system; the immoderate use of antibiotics. “
Are there any bodies responsible for protective functions?
“Years ago there was a mistaken belief that defense cells came from the bone marrow. Today we know, however, that the whole organism collaborates in global defense and that epithelial cells (those responsible for the functions of coating, secretion, transport and absorption) also have an important immune role. “
To strengthen the immune system, which aspects of everyday life do we need to pay attention to?
“The immune system doesn’t need to be strengthened . The many products on the market that promise to ‘strengthen the immune system’ really don’t really fulfill this promise. Certainly certain diseases weaken the immune system. Improper nutrition (high calorie foods, but low in nutrients) and some wrong habits such as sedentary lifestyle or the absence of attention to temperature changes can negatively affect the immune system. But a healthy person doesn’t need to integrate anything to have a stronger immune system. “
Let’s go back to nutrition: is there any food that is particularly useful for the immune response? Are garlic and ginger really ‘miraculous’ as they say?
“Overall nutrition plays an important role in the immune response. Among the advice that I would like to give, that of preferring antioxidant foods , such as brown rice, blueberries, black grapes and tomatoes. The presence of meat in the diet is also highly recommended. I would not speak instead of garlic and ginger, but of ginger and turmeric which are antioxidant agents in nature, according to the latest scientific studies. Strong antioxidants, such as sulforaphane, are also present in green vegetables. “
Is it useful to drink a thousand juices a day in full flu period?-Fight Corona by boosting immuno
“ It is a legend . If a person is healthy, he should not strive to be healthier. As said before, surely following a balanced diet and above all rich in vitamins and minerals is a great help for the immune system. In particular, seasonal vegetables and fresh fruit rich in vitamin C and vitamin D should be consumed. But this does not mean that these foods can change the immune system. “
Does hygiene play a role in all this?-Fight Corona by boosting immuno
“Hygiene plays a fundamental role for the immune system. Drinking water, clean homes, sanitized and washed clothes, vaccinations, antibiotics have had a fundamental impact on reducing infant mortality and life expectancy. On the other hand, it must be said that excess hygiene can be counterproductive and cause a significant increase in allergic diseases. “
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