Immunity, the guardian of your health

The two ideal periods to reinforce our natural defenses, and therefore our immunity, are spring and autumn... This is one of the effects of the cycle of the seasons which acts on man - and on living beings in general - and which has been known and taken into account by the medicines of all cultures for thousands of years. But this should not prevent us from worrying about it during the rest of the year, especially because of the sanitary context which has put, and still puts, our immune system to a severe test.

What is the immune system?

The immune system is a complex defense system of the organism which, in case of need, mobilizes several types of cells and manufactures the appropriate molecules to fight the aggression. The body's responses are of two kinds.

First, there is the defense system that creates an innate immunity It constantly monitors the metabolism to detect and fight abnormal cells, cancerous cells, or those infected by a virus.

Then there is the system that generates adaptive immunity It needs a few days to set up after having spotted an aggression, the time to recognize the enemy and then eliminate it. Its cells are T and B lymphocytes (especially the so-called "body killer cells", CD8+ T lymphocytes), and they are found in the lymph nodes.

The immune system distinguishes between the "good" and the "bad". Thus, it effectively eliminates all harmful intruders, foreign to our body. Its main function is to fight microbes (viruses, fungi, bacteria...) without any external help. We can therefore measure the extent to which a disturbed immune function has disabling consequences on the body, both in the short and long term.


Decreased immunity: physiological causes

The immune system is disrupted in people who suffer from autoimmune diseases. It creates antibodies or immune cells that attack certain cells in the body that it wrongly considers to be enemies.

This is possible in people suffering from type 1 diabetes (which causes hyperglycemia), rheumatoid arthritis (which gradually destroys the joints), Crohn's disease (which creates a discontinuous inflammation of the intestinal wall) multiple sclerosis (which damages the myelin sheath cells around the neurons), Hashimoto's thyroiditis (which causes hypothyroidism) or Graves' disease (which causes hyperthyroidism).

In these people, the immune system can be deregulated, at the origin, by a particular genetic or hormonal susceptibility. Or by an excess of hygiene and/or an excessive intake of antibiotics during early childhood. They may also have been infected by a microbe with a component similar to another cell type in the body.

Lowered immunity can also be caused by an unhealthy unhealthy microbiota. The intestinal microbiota is the main barrier against microbes: 70% of the body's defense cells are in fact produced in the intestine. A good intestinal flora guarantees good immunity.

In addition, in overweight and obese peopleadipose tissue secretes adipocitokines, proteins that can cause micro-inflammations which, when they become chronic, alter immunity.

The passing of time and age are also disruptors of immune cells. Around the age of 60, their skills start to deteriorate. In particular, T lymphocytes react less and less well to aggressions. The organism therefore becomes more fragile when it encounters a microbe.

Decreased immunity: external causes

The quality of the diet is an important factor in the effectiveness of the immune system.

A diet that is not varied enough limits the supply of nutrients that are essential to the proper functioning of the immune system. We know that the food we eat is less and less rich in nutrients because of modern farming methods. For example, it has become too low in vitamins C, B6, B9 and B12 and in certain minerals such as zinc, which all contribute to the proper functioning of the immune system.

An overly rich or unbalanced diet, such as fast food, also harms the digestive system, especially the gut microbiota that plays a key role in immunity.

Excessive salt consumption can also weaken immunity and increase high blood pressure. People who consume more than 6 grams of salt per day (equivalent to the salt content of two fast food meals) can develop significant immune deficiency.

Lack of sleep (on average, less than 6 hours per night) disrupts immunity and makes us more vulnerable to infections. Indeed, this deficit shortens the time of deep slow wave sleep, the one that favors the production of B lymphocytes that are able to register the characteristics of microbes and then produce the corresponding antibodies in the case of a new aggression.

We must also mention certain drugs (immunosuppressants) used to fight against certain cancers and autoimmune diseases, and which weaken the immunity to do so. This is also the case with cortisone when taken on a long-term basis.

A stressful daily life (it is increasingly so for many people) is also a factor in lowering immunity. Stress makes you more susceptible to infections, and they last longer. Stress hormones stimulate receptors on the surface of certain immune cells, preventing them from producing the inflammatory chemicals that help kill viruses.

Finally, there is the action of the seasons. In winter, the lack of light affects our morale and creates stress, which in turn disrupts our immunity. It also causes a decrease in the production of vitamin D. Moreover, the falling temperatures facilitate the penetration of microbes into the body. And the nasal mucous membrane that dries out loses its effectiveness. It therefore lets more viruses through. The entire body's immune response is slowed down by the cold and therefore fights pathogens less effectively. As for viruses, their envelope is more resistant in winter, so they are better protected against the action of the immune system.

Signs of decreased immunity

Whatever the origin of the decrease in immunity (autoimmune diseases, diet, stress, seasons...), it causes an accentuated sensitivity to infections, which can manifest itself by causing :

  • a drop in tone,
  • chronic fatigue,
  • more frequent colds and flus,
  • recurrent cystitis,
  • recurrent vaginitis,
  • herpes rash,
  • allergies,
  • red and itchy eyes,
  • a slowing down of the healing of wounds...

On a daily basis, you feel weak and tired, in a bad mood. You find it harder to concentrate on your work. You lack energy, both physical and mental. Your small wounds get infected instead of healing. A simple flu can get worse and become fatal. You are more susceptible to viruses, such as the Covid virus.

Allergies, if you are prone to them, are more frequent, and spring can become a very painful season because of the pollens spread by trees and flowers, which lead to an excessive production of Th2 lymphocytes compared to Th1 lymphocytes. An excess resulting in an overproduction of specific antibodies, the E-type immunoglobulins, which trigger the allergic reaction.

Effective solutions

Your daily behavior can help protect your immunity and improve it when it is disrupted and therefore less effective.

For example, make sure you have the sleep pattern When you are awake, T cells circulate in your blood to fight infections. But when you're asleep, they concentrate in your lymph nodes, where specific cells transmit information about infectious organisms circulating in your body, so they can recognize them and then drive them away. Without enough sleep, your T cells can't develop their immune memory and don't have enough information to do their job.

It is also important to ensure that you have a healthy dietbalanced diet, rich in vegetables, fruit and fresh produce, and which includes as few processed and non-organic products as possible. In short, foods rich in vitamins and good quality probiotics.

A physical activity Regular physical activity is also a precious asset for maintaining an effective immunity: when you practice sports, your body warms up and the increase in its temperature slows down the growth of bacteria. In addition, relaxing sports activities reduce the production of stress hormones, thus their negative effect on immunity.

Maintain a healthy weight is also an essential factor: if the body manufactures too much adipose tissue, if it receives too much energy intake, if its stomach and intestines are constantly solicited, it wastes a lot of time and energy managing these excesses, at the expense of its immunity.

Finally, by trying to avoid situations of pressure, stage fright or tension, and by favouring relaxing activitiesWe produce less stress hormones which reduce the immune response.

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The essential complements

We know today that because of modern methods of cultivation and breeding, air and water pollution, and the presence of electromagnetic waves, food no longer provides sufficient quantities of all the micronutrients necessary for good health in general, and for effective immunity in particular. In these conditions, food supplements have become precious allies.

They are useful all year round to fill these gaps, not only during seasonal periods of decreasedimmunity. They are mainly vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron and probiotics.

The vitamin A is essential to stimulate your immune system. It is liposoluble, so it dissolves in fats and oils. In the body, it is involved in the growth of bones and the pigmentation of the retina. A good dosage is essential because a deficiency as well as an overdose can seriously affect the body. As far as the immune system is concerned, it boosts the development of lymphocytes whose mission is to defend the body against infections.

The B vitamins are eight in number, which serve to stimulate your natural defences, in particular vitamins B6, B9 and B12. They are water-soluble and dissolve in water. Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is particularly involved in the proper functioning of the immune system. And the B12 allows the cellular renewal.

Vitamin C is also very important for the proper functioning of the immune system, but the body is not able to store or synthesize it. It is particularly useful before or after a sport or physical activity, or for pregnant women. It also stimulates the production of cytokines that activate the immune response in case of microbial intrusion. A sufficient intake is therefore essential to allow the immune system to do its job properly.

Vitamin D is essential to the immune system. It is fat-soluble. The body synthesizes it thanks to the sun's ultraviolet rays in the skin. It is, in fact, a hormone that has several functions: it is very stimulating for our natural defenses, it is useful for strengthening the bones by absorbing calcium and phosphorus, and it activates the white blood cells. A vitamin D deficiency is common in winter.

Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is largely synthesized by intestinal bacteria. Recent studies have shown that its deficiency can cause the appearance of severe forms of Covid.

Magnesium facilitates the synthesis of immunoglobulins, essential proteins that recognize immune cells and act on their proper binding. It also participates in the development of T lymphocytes, the "killer cells" of viruses and cancerous cells. It also plays an essential role in fixing vitamin D which has a strong effect on immunity.

Zinc is present in small quantities in the body, but it plays a very important role in the development and functioning of immune cells. It activates B and T lymphocytes, and thus helps to reduce the duration and intensity of symptoms of a drop in immunity. For example, in winter, it contributes effectively to fight against colds and flu. Or, if the immune system goes into overdrive when the presence of a harmful agent leads to an excessive production of white blood cells, thus a harmful inflammatory response (the cytokine storm), it helps create a defense shield. The presence of sufficient zinc in the body also strengthens its resistance to allergens. Finally, zinc acts against viruses and bacteria.

Irondeficiency leads to a dramatic decrease in neutrophils, white blood cells that are essential to the proper functioning of the immune system. Iron deficiency is quite common in the population.

Probiotics introduce specialized bacteria into the digestive system that support and stimulate the action of the intestinal microbiota, prevent the proliferation of germs and partially restore the balance of innate immunity.

Our immune system is more and more under attack, and the consequences are more and more visible in the population. All the food supplements essential to the proper functioning of the immune system are available on our site of natural products.


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