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Immunity – How do we fix it, build it and strengthen it? Professional advice

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  1. Innate and acquired immunity. what is he talking about?
  2. Building flexibility. Can it be “fixed”?
  3. How do we live to support immunity? Practical advice

The immune system is the body’s defender. It protects it from pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and the development of tumors. Our immunity, that is, the body’s ability to properly recognize and fight the “enemy”, depends on its condition. So this system is important to our health.

Innate and acquired immunity. what is he talking about?

Arch. Dr. Wojciech Jagiełło, Clinical Immunologist from the SCM Clinic in Krakow, explains that our immunity consists of two pillars – innate (non-specific) and acquired (specific) immunity.

They work together and complement each other and together form the body’s defense system. We have innate immunity that is genetically determined and if there are defects in it, it is very easy for people with it to become infected and get sick. It is the body’s first line of protection against the penetration of pathogens, ensuring rapid and immediate recognition of viruses or bacteria and a defensive response. In addition, it affects the specific response, which develops with a certain delay – the lists of the specialist.

Elements of innate immunity include mechanical barriers such as the skin and mucous membranes, as well as chemical barriers, such as bactericidal and bactericidal substances secreted by the skin and mucous membranes, as well as appropriately low skin and stomach pH. Another component of non-specific immunity is functional barriers, which include all body activities aimed at removing microorganisms from the body, such as cough and sneezing reflexes, intestinal peristalsis, ciliary activity of the respiratory tract, diarrhea, vomiting, or lacrimation. The human body also contains microbiological barriers, which are natural microbial bacteria.

What distinguishes non-specific (innate) immunity from specific (acquired) immunity is the accuracy in recognizing and combating the enemy. Acquired immunity is more subtle in action, but only plays a role when innate immunity fails. It needs time to recognize the pathogen and release specific antibodies against it. As the name suggests, we develop it throughout our lives. So we have a significant effect on it unlike the innate immunity.

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Building flexibility. Can it be “fixed”?

Genetically determined innate immunity is difficult to repair. Sometimes, when the defects are really significant, a bone marrow transplant is performed, and gene therapy is the hope for the future.

It should be known that part of the specific immunity is acquired passively in the prenatal period through the placenta from the mother. In addition, normal breast milk also contains IgG, IgA, IgM immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and bio-oligosaccharides. Therefore, breastfed babies, who have practically no acquired immunity, can be protected to some extent through breastfeeding.

Arch. Dr. Wojciech Jagiełło explains that in later life stages a certain immunity is actively produced after contact with an antigen – either naturally as a result of a disease or artificially thanks to preventive vaccinations.

– Such actions mean that the next time it comes into contact with the pathogen, the body has self-developed antibodies against it, thanks to which it fights it faster and more accurately, but also recognizes it immediately, since it has an immune memory built against it. That is why immunization is highly recommended, which is currently the best form of defense against infectious diseases, explains the immunologist.

Artificial immunity can also be acquired in some cases by taking ready-made immunoglobulins. They are given when we do not have time to vaccinate and we are sick. If there is no immunoglobulin available for a particular infectious disease and its course is severe, sometimes systemic immunoglobulin is given to stimulate the function and response of the immune system.

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How do we live to support immunity? Practical advice

Not everyone realizes that the immune system can also be stimulated in a non-pharmacological way, through appropriate daily behaviour. The drug advises that in order for the level of immunity to be high, we must take care of the well-being of our entire body. Med. Wojciech Jagiełło.

1. Get enough sleep

The efficiency of the immune system is affected in a number of ways, including adequate sleep and rest. Research has shown that the correct dose of melatonin produced while taking it supports the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties.

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2. Exercise regularly

We must also exercise regularly. Moderate-intensity physical activity reduces susceptibility to disease by increasing the number and activity of macrophages (cells that are part of the first line of defense against antigens), improving their effectiveness in fighting bacteria and viruses, and lymphocytes – the body’s second line of defense cells, thereby reducing the risk of infection and autoimmune diseases. However, at the same time, it has been proven that high-intensity exercise can reduce the body’s resistance. Metabolic stress disrupts the work of all organs, including the work of the immune system. So you need to control the intensity of the exercise.

3. Don’t be afraid to “get dirty”

Moreover, it is important that acquired immunity does not live too sterile. This is important, especially in the case of children who need to gain immunity through contact with various pathogens.

4. Rigidity of the body

It is also important to strengthen the body. Sclerosis increases the activity of the immune system. Walking barefoot, taking a shower in cold and warm water, or exercising outdoors is one of the best and easiest ways.

5. Eat healthy

The immunologist assures that a properly balanced diet is also necessary, which supplies the body with nutrients, vitamins and microelements, including, first of all, useful proteins, preferably complex vegetable carbohydrates and good fats, including omega-2 acids. The vast majority of immune system cells are in the gastrointestinal tract.

Deficiencies in nutritional components that stimulate and combat microorganisms that must be supplied to food may lead to increased susceptibility to infection, more severe complications, and even the transition of the disease to a chronic process. On the other hand, its sufficient supply strengthens immune processes, thereby reducing the incidence of infection.

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The intestines are a very important component of the immune system. More specifically, the bacterial flora present in it. This is because bacteria that colonize the digestive tract compete with disease-causing bacteria for nutrients needed for growth. So it can be said that the better our bacterial flora develops, the more nutrients it uses, and therefore less pathogenic bacteria are left, which means that they cannot develop and reproduce. Therefore, we must take care of them by taking probiotics: silage, kefir and yogurt. Repeated antibiotic treatments will harm them in turn.
Avoid and treat all types of allergies and food allergies, which often cause permanent inflammation in the body, preventing the immune system from being unnecessarily overloaded, so it has a chance to react better in case of an illness.

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When it comes to taking supplements, those taken with food are much better. However, it is a myth that taking vitamins C, B, zinc or iron prophylactically in supplement form will ensure excellent immunity. The exception is supplementation with deficient vitamin D from natural sources. It is made with the participation of solar radiation, which we have very little in our latitudes. Vitamin D intake is important because it has been shown to aid in immune system cell differentiation, stimulate the production of antibacterial proteins, and increase the number of T cells that defend the body against viruses. Before supplementation, the level of the vitamin in the body should be checked and the appropriate dose should be determined for us, taking into account body weight and age.

Foods such as honey, garlic, radish, turmeric and aloe vera support the regeneration of the immune system, but they do not build it, so we cannot rely on them to improve its condition.

6. Avoid stimulants

Stimulants such as smoking and drinking alcohol, as well as stress, are destructive to the formation of antibodies. Steroids disrupt the division and maturation of immune cells. However, with chronic stress, the immune system works worse – lymphocytes divide more slowly, natural killer cells work less, and the humoral response, that is, the production of immunoglobulins, is impaired, which, in turn, may increase the incidence of infectious and oncological diseases in such people. All of these factors impair the immune response and should therefore be avoided.

You do not build your immunity overnight. However, regularity and diligence in improving it will definitely pay off and prevent you from getting sick or going through this condition more gently.

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