Food is one of the ways to support our immune defences. We often immediately think of citrus fruits, rich in vitamin C because this vitamin is often associated with immunity. It actually has an anti-infective role. But other vitamins also contribute to the proper functioning of the immune system.
Vitamin A found in carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, salad but also in liver, cheese and butter. It contributes to the good health of the mucous membranes -nasal, oral, intestinal…- which are the first lines of defense against infections. Vitamin D, which comes to us more from sun exposure than food, is essential for good immune health.
The importance of fruits and vegetables
Other nutrients are also needed. This is why it is important to have a varied diet. Pr Renato Monteiro, president of the French Society of Immunology insists on the importance of fruits and vegetables.
“Their fiber is good for gut health, which plays an important role in immunity.” He also advises not to eat too much fat or too much sugar so as not to gain too much weight. “A significant overweight promotes, in fact, low-level chronic inflammation which can lead to an unsuitable immune response.
You don’t need to take food supplements if you eat well and don’t have any deficiencies. It can even be counterproductive. Plants, such as willow, meadowsweet and echinacea, which have anti-inflammatory properties, could disrupt the immune system. Indeed, to fight viruses, inflammatory reactions are initially beneficial.
Regular physical activity helps keep your immune system young
If there’s one thing that’s been well proven, it’s the benefits of exercise. I know, I talk about it often. But to be in good immunological shape, you have to be in good physical condition. Exercise increases the number of white blood cells in the blood and makes them more active in patrolling blood vessels and eliminating virus-infected cells.
Studies have shown that people who exercise are less likely to get sick from a respiratory infection than people who are sedentary. That’s not all, being active also seems to limit the aging of the immune system, which becomes less efficient with age. In active seniors, the defenses weaken less quickly.
The benefit of physical activity is all the greater when it is regular. It can be walking at a good pace, cycling, swimming… No need to force too much: if inactivity is not good, excessive sport can also weaken the immune defences. You also need to know how to rest.
Sleep is a weapon against viruses
The power of rest should not be underestimated. But if you feel abnormally tired, you should consult to find the cause. This can, for example, come from bad nights, disturbed by sleep apnea still too often under-diagnosed. However, good sleep contributes to the proper functioning of our immune system. It also helps regulate stress which is now known to make more susceptible to infections.