How can you strengthen the immune system?


The immune system is the part of the body that is mainly involved in fighting external, harmful microorganisms, such as Bacteria, viruses or parasites. In addition, it is also involved in the containment and control of intestinal bacteria that are permanently in the human body, which are irreplaceable for normal and healthy digestion.

The strengthening of the immune system serves to maintain health in general, as e.g. defective and autonomous cells, which can eventually turn into cancer cells, are removed from the body. It also protects against infections by preventing the uncontrolled multiplication of invading microorganisms.

What options are there to strengthen the immune system?

  • eat fresh, undercooked fruit and vegetables
  • Avoiding excessive consumption of sugar, simple carbohydrates (e.g. white bread)
  • Maintaining (or rebuilding) a healthy intestinal flora through diet and after drug therapies (antibiotics, chemotherapy)
  • regular exercise, especially endurance sports
  • regular sauna
  • Food supplements with vitamins, if a deficiency is suspected despite a balanced diet
  • Stress reduction and improvement of mental well-being
  • healthy sleep habits, improve sleep hygiene

Strengthening through food

The most important factor for a strong immune system is a balanced and varied diet. This means that all substances necessary for maintaining and building body mass, such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats (in individual different proportions, as e.g. an obese person needs comparatively less fats or an active strength athlete needs more proteins) are consumed in order to carry out the basic functions of the body as a whole, including the immune system.

Furthermore, minerals such as calcium and magnesium are important for many functions in the body, including cell division (of course also for so-called immune cells). Trace elements such as zinc, in addition to their essential functions in the body, have a targeted promoting effect on the immune system by being incorporated into certain enzymes of the immune system and performing important anti-infective functions there.

In general, fresh fruits and vegetables should be preferred. The rule of thumb is the 5-a-day rule, which describes a handful of fruit and vegetables of alternating colors. Furthermore, in the case of an acute cold, after consultation with a doctor, the additional intake of food supplements that contain vitamins C, E or zinc, among other things, can have a beneficial effect on the course of the cold and Co.

Which home remedies can help?

In addition to a balanced, vitamin-rich diet and regular exercise, there are a few other simple remedies or home remedies that are good for the immune system. One of the best-known is probably the homemade “hot lemon”: The freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon is poured into a cup with hot, no longer boiling water and sweetened with honey as required. If you like, you can add a few slices of fresh ginger to the cup. In addition to a large portion of vitamin C, this drink also contains the disinfecting properties of ginger and honey. Drunk hot, it also alleviates acute throat and throat problems.

Other hot drinks such as tea also have this effect and can also be supplemented with honey or lemon juice. Other herbs and plants besides the already mentioned ginger, which have a slight disinfecting effect and can thus support the immune system, are sage, eucalyptus, echinacea and arnica - the leaves or extracts can easily be brewed with hot water as fresh tea. On the other hand, excessive coffee and alcohol consumption should be avoided to strengthen the immune system, also to ensure good and restful sleep quality.

Another method for strengthening the body's defenses in an uncomplicated way at home is alternating showers: When showering, warm and cool water are used alternately. This gets the circulation going and also ensures improved thermoregulation of the body, which means that in everyday life the body can store heat better and release cold better. Basically, this is the same effect as a regular sauna or a Kneipp cure. To begin with, it may be enough to finish the shower with a splash of cold water. Many people also swear by the regular consumption of chicken broth. Chicken broth is certainly not unhealthy, as it contains a lot of fluids and minerals and - if drunk hot - can relieve sore throats and throat problems. Most vitamins, however, are destroyed by cooking. Therefore, the “healing” effect of the chicken broth is primarily based on the placebo effect. Nevertheless, or precisely because of this, it has a certain position as a home remedy.

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What drugs are there to strengthen the immune system?

Medicines to strengthen the immune system can usually be found in the group of dietary supplements or in medicinal products of plant origin. Dietary supplements are, for example, vitamin preparations or zinc, which are supposed to strengthen the performance of the immune system by compensating for the respective vitamin or trace element deficiency. These products are available without a prescription in pharmacies or even in drugstores. Medicines of plant origin (such as Meditonsin® or Umckaloabo®) should be used in the event of a budding infection in order to provide acute support for the immune system.

There are also drugs to build up a healthy intestinal flora, which also have an indirect positive effect on the immune system.

Read more on the topic: Which drugs strengthen the immune system?

Sanostol® to strengthen the immune system

The food supplement Sanostol® is one of many examples of an over-the-counter vitamin preparation. The exact composition of the vitamins varies from product to product, but it contains all vitamins that are important for the immune system in some form. When taking it, it should be noted that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E contained in it can also be overdosed, as their excretion is more difficult for the body, in contrast to the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C. Vitamin A can be harmful to the unborn child in very high doses, so pregnant women should exercise a certain degree of caution when taking all vitamin supplements. In the event of a severe overdose, vitamin D can trigger small bone growths and should therefore not be overdosed, especially in children. If these aspects are taken into account, a vitamin preparation such as Sanostol® can be a good way of supplying the body with vitamins when there is an increased need for vitamins.

Does zinc help strengthen the immune system?

Zinc has a reputation for boosting the immune system, so it's often used with vitamin C in over-the-counter supplements. In fact, there are no studies that would prove a strengthening effect on the immune system. Rather, the findings so far indicate that zinc regulates part of the immune system, i.e. inhibits it to a certain extent. This is probably useful to protect the immune system from the proverbial overreacting with actually minor infections, because in extreme cases this can be more damaging to the body than the infection itself. If pathogens are combated, the immune system therefore consumes zinc more - hence the addition of Zinc to vitamin C makes perfect sense to prevent infections.

This article might also interest you: Zinc deficiency

Does Homeopathy Help To Boost The Immune System?

Homeopathic medicines, which are often used to improve performance or increase susceptibility to infection, are Kalium iodatum, Kalium sulfuricum and Kalium phosphoricum. According to homeopathic teaching, “like with like” should always be treated, ie ingredients are selected which, in higher doses, would cause the symptoms to be alleviated. As a result, certain “drug images” are created for each homeopathic remedy, from which the person's need for a certain substance can be read. Accordingly, if you are interested in homeopathic treatment, the appropriate remedy should be selected based on the respective drug picture.

With Kalium iodatum, this includes increased sweating with infections, swollen joints, sleep disorders and nightmares. The remedy picture of Kalium sulfuricum includes, among other things, a yellowish coated tongue, a tendency to purulent skin eczema, snoring and wandering joint problems. Those who need Kalium phosphoricum often show an exhausted and tired appearance, withdraw a lot from other people, often have food cravings as well as headaches and back pain. However, before using a homeopathic remedy, it is worthwhile to compare the corresponding appearance with your own symptoms in order to find the right or most suitable remedy for you.

These articles might also interest you: Kalium iodatum, Schüssler Salt No. 5: Kalium phosphoricum

Do Schüssler salts help to strengthen the immune system?

If you want to support your immune system with Schuessler salts, you can try a combination of functional agents 1, 3 and 7. This combination can be used to prevent flu-like infections and colds, especially in winter. The first salt, Calcium fluoratum, is mainly responsible for strengthening the immune system. Ferrum phosphoricum, the third salt, ensures a better oxygen supply to the body cells and can thus help to a more vital feeling, while the seventh salt continues to have an antispasmodic and pain-relieving effect and can therefore be omitted purely for the prophylaxis of infections.

The application of this Schuessler salt cure begins with dissolving three tablets of the salts in hot water, which is then drunk. For the next three days, one tablet is taken six times a day, and then only one tablet each day. The complete course should last about 3-6 weeks. If you want, you can use Ferrum phosphoricum ointment on the skin to treat cracked skin that could serve as a gateway for pathogens. However, you should always consult an appropriate specialist for a combination of Schüßler salts that is individually tailored to your life situation to strengthen the immune system.

More information can be found here: Schüssler salts

Which vitamins strengthen the immune system?

The best known positive effect on the immune system is probably vitamin C, or ascorbic acid. In fact, vitamin C fulfills a number of important functions in maintaining health and the immune system: First, vitamin C is a so-called Radical scavengers, this means that there are reactive and therefore cell-damaging particles (radical) can render harmless. It is also necessary for the production of leukocytes (white blood cells) and facilitates the immunological functions of these cells. In addition, however, other vitamins are also important for an efficient immune system, above all vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin A and its related molecules facilitate the formation of white blood cells and antibodies, i.e. proteins that attach to the cell structures of pathogens can bind and thus trigger or facilitate an immune response. The task of vitamin D with regard to the immune system is to provide an appropriate immune response, especially in the case of pathogens such as viruses, some fungi and some bacteria that multiply in the body's cells. While vitamins A, C, and E are abundant in fresh fruits, vegetables and vegetable oils, the best way to get vitamin D through the skin is in sunlight.

Further information on the topic can be found here: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E.

What can I do after taking antibiotics to strengthen the immune system?

In most cases, antibiotic therapy also has an effect on the intestinal flora: When antibiotics are taken orally, the bacteria in the large intestine are also killed. These normally feed on undigested food components and have been shown to have a great impact on a person's immune system and allergies. There are several explanations for the exact mechanism - but it is clear that a good intestinal flora has a positive effect on the performance of the immune system. After antibiotic therapy, during which certain bacterial strains in the large intestine have been killed, the intestinal colonization usually occurs, which means that the surviving bacterial strains can multiply unchecked and thus change the overall qualitative composition of the intestinal flora. This not only affects the tolerance of individual foods, but also the immune system.

The solution to this problem can be preparations available in pharmacies to restore a healthy intestinal flora. In extreme cases, for example in long-term therapy with antibiotics, so-called stool transplants can also represent a treatment option: Here stool from a healthy person is processed with the bacteria it contains and fed to the person concerned.

What can I do after chemotherapy to strengthen my immune system?

Chemotherapy attacks all body cells equally. This significantly weakens the immune system both directly and indirectly.The weakening occurs indirectly, for example, through the destruction of the physiological intestinal flora and damage to the skin and mucous membrane, which otherwise functions as a natural barrier for pathogens. After stopping the chemotherapy and during the breaks, the damaged or weakened cell systems begin to regenerate. If you want to support the body and the immune system with regeneration, regular exercise and sport are particularly worthwhile. Several studies have shown a clear positive influence of exercise during and after chemotherapy. As mentioned above, there are particularly easy endurance sports, but regular walks can also be sufficient. In addition, after chemotherapy, a balanced diet and the development of the intestinal flora can help improve the functions of the immune system.

How can I contribute to a healthy immune system?

Strengthening the immune system through relaxation and rest

Inner equilibrium and balance are very important for general well-being and health. The immune system reacts particularly strongly to negative stress, the so-called Distress. This means that chronic, long-lasting restlessness, nervousness and discomfort through the release of stress hormones such as cortisol have a direct inhibitory effect on the immune system and thus lead to an increased susceptibility to infections. The body then wants to provide all of its energy for coping with the supposed threat in the short term. This helped in acute, really threatening situations such as an attack by a wild animal with our ancestors in the Stone Age. However, this is unsuitable in today's professional working world, as the challenges cannot be solved through fight-or-flight.

Relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, certain meditation exercises or progressive muscle relaxation are recommended. If these are carried out regularly and carefully, the immune system can also be strengthened in accordance with the reduction in the stress level. So these help in the short term to resolve an acute stressful situation and in the long term to prevent a chronic condition.

In addition, a permanent recommendation for a personal approach to life that promotes inner serenity and balance can be expressly recommended, as a good basic mood and a positive, life-affirming mental attitude not only lead to a more satisfactory, but also to a more immunocompetent and healthier life.

Not for nothing are the many relaxation techniques such as hatha yoga (yoga in the original sense: it has spiritual perfection as its goal. The relatively small physical aspect has been redesigned in the west as modern yoga) or meditation (among other things in the vipassana practice of Buddhism ) subordinate to a spiritual, philosophical system.

Strengthening the immune system through adequate sleep

Another important factor is getting enough quality sleep. For most adults this means 7-8 hours of sleep. Small children and seniors have a correspondingly longer or shorter need for sleep.

It is also important that sleep is continuous and that the various phases of sleep occur. Especially deep sleep and the REM phases (Rapid Eye Movement: In this phase of rapid eye movements, it is mainly dreaming) that are important, as these are essential for physical and mental regeneration.

The hormonal balance is also time-dependent and runs in phases. The stress hormone cortisol, for example, has its lowest plasma level (concentration of a substance in the blood) at night and thus enables the immune system to develop. The so-called growth hormone somatotropin is also released mainly at night during sleep and is also important for the immune system, among other things.

Strengthening the immune system through exercise

Endurance sports in particular, such as swimming, jogging or cycling, have been shown to strengthen the immune system - even if it is not entirely clear in what way. One explanation is that the lymph fluid is better transported through the muscle movements. In addition to dietary fats, many of the immune cells are transported in the lymph fluid, which means that they get to the places where they contribute to the actual defense more quickly. These are primarily the lymph nodes, in which the cells are presented with the relevant pathogens. In addition, according to the current state of knowledge, sport is also always a training for the immune system: It is assumed that it is stimulated a little by physical exertion. The production of immune cells does not decrease and the immune defense remains at a higher level than without regular exercise. Ultimately, this is also shown by the fact that people who do sport suffer less often and usually less severely from infections than other people.

Strengthening the immune system through exercise

The benefits of a busy life are innumerable. Sport has a beneficial effect on all bodily systems, but above all on the cardiovascular system. Since the cardiovascular system in particular supplies the body and thus all cells (including immune cells) with blood, oxygen and nutrients, strengthening it is associated with a strengthening of the immune system. The heat generated during physical activity is also beneficial for cell activity.

In addition, moderate sporting activities such as cycling or swimming non-specifically stimulate the immune system and promote its state of activity.

Regulation of the heat balance

Going to the sauna is generally known to increase the body's resistance to a variety of ailments, including infections. Especially when it comes to an effective hot / cold treatment in the form of a shower under cold water or, in its extreme form, a bath in ice water, this is an excellent way for the blood vessels and mucous membranes to prevent the penetration of pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria or infectious, pathogenic particles such as viruses.

A decisive reason for the occurrence of the frequent cold in winter is the reduced nasal mucous membrane temperature below a certain ambient temperature, so that a reactive vasoconstriction (constriction of the blood vessels by the own vascular muscles) occurs. This means that the areas are supplied with less blood and immune cells that occur in the blood, which could fend off a potential virus infection, are therefore less locally available.

Less extreme measures such as alternating baths or showers are very helpful to get the immune system going again. The important thing is the physiological stimulus, which gives the body a stimulus so that it gets used to greater temperature fluctuations and is thus better adapted to the various weather conditions.

Strengthening the immune system through sauna

The heat during the sauna increases the temperature inside the body. This works effectively like a mild fever: the increased temperature makes it easier to kill pathogens. The change between hot and cold when taking a sauna also stimulates the metabolism and releases endorphins. Both of these have an indirect positive effect on the immune system: A good metabolism also stimulates the flow of lymph fluid, in which a large part of the immune cells are located. Endorphins are the body's “happiness messengers” that are responsible for the typical sense of well-being during or after a sauna bath. In this way, they can also support the immune system through the influence on the psyche, since the stress reduction also has a positive influence on the immune system.

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Hygiene and immune system

This affects the immune system indirectly. By paying attention to thorough hygiene and e.g. Washing hands thoroughly before every meal or after coming home greatly reduces the number of opportunities for harmful microorganisms to invade the body. Because most diseases are transmitted through the hands, e.g. if you do not wash your hands after using the toilet, as there are many germs, especially on the door handles, which can be transmitted to other people via the hands.

What are the special features of babies and children when it comes to strengthening the immune system?

Babies and children are not yet able to store as many vitamins and trace elements as they are not yet fully grown. However, they have an increased consumption or need for most vitamins. For them, a balanced diet that ensures a constant supply of vitamins is particularly important. If the need cannot be covered by the diet, the use of vitamin preparations as dietary supplements can be considered. In this division there are numerous over-the-counter preparations that prevent the consequences of a vitamin deficiency. On the other hand, babies and children are also more prone to overdosing on vitamins, precisely because their storage capacities are smaller and therefore filled more quickly. In the case of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which the body is more difficult to excrete, excessive intake is therefore often harmful to health. A consultation with the pharmacist or the pediatrician can help to avoid overdosing.

Read more on this topic at: How can I strengthen my child's immune system?

Interesting on the topic

In childhood, when parts of the immune system are built up and these therefore have to come into contact with microorganisms, a moderate bacterial load makes sense, contrary to earlier views.

It can also be observed that a resident of the western world, when visiting a so-called developing country, often develops traveler's diarrhea (diarrhea and vomiting) after coming into contact with the mostly considerably lower hygienic standards. This means that because of the large number and harmfulness of the microorganisms in the country there, the body's immune system must also develop and adapt in order to enable a healthy life despite the difficult hygienic conditions. This adjustment has already taken place among the locals.

The latest research suggests that many allergic reactions suggest an overactivity of a part of the immune system that is otherwise active in worm infections and other parasite infestations. People who had intestinal worms in their childhood suffer less from allergies, and less so in adulthood. It is assumed that this special part of the immune system was evolutionarily used to a parasite infestation and classifies harmless substances such as pollen dust or animal hair as dangerous in clean areas with uncontaminated, i.e. parasite-free water and food and thus triggers allergies due to its incorrect activation.

The lower allergy rate of people living in rural areas to city dwellers has also been described in various studies. The immune system can be “kept in check” through increased contact with germs that are contained in the earth, in plants and animals.

The subject of allergy shows impressively that the immune system with its principles and mechanisms has not yet been understood in its entirety and in its interactions with the environment, despite the considerable research successes to date. Ultimately, the state of research is still very expandable and thus an effective, special strengthening of the immune system is not yet possible, even if intensive research is currently being carried out on this in certain areas of cancer therapy (immune cancer therapy). That said, a generally healthy lifestyle is definitely beneficial for the immune system.