Bacteria, viruses, environmental toxins –our bodies have to win a series of defensive battles with the help of the immune system every day. The body's defence is severely stressed and achieves unbelievable things – for example, on average, an 80-year-old man will have about 300 colds and cold infections in his lifetime. Unfortunately, the necessary combat troops are not equally effective in each and every one. An overload of several negative factors can often lead to health guardians being overwhelmed and the susceptibility to infection being increased.
A great enemy of the defence system, for example, is negative stress ("distress"). The increased release of stress hormones leads to a suppression of the immune system and therefore, a cold or cold infection often starts immediately after situations associated with increased work pressure and stress (e.g. examinations). Certain medications are associated with a reduction of the immune system. Antibiotics, in particular, attacking not only the pathogens, but affecting the “good” intestinal bacteria by necessity, should be mentioned.
There are a number of options that can enhance the effectiveness of the immune cells: a balanced diet, exercise in fresh air, regular endurance training and sufficient sleep.
An interesting discovery, that has been studied extensively in recent years, is that certain types of fungi can activate the immune system. The structures responsible for this have now been identified from these fungi: the beta-glucans. These are complex carbohydrates recognised as foreign by the human body, and as a resulting activating the immune system. In this way the formation of the key immune cells of our body is promoted.
For the immune system, it is also necessary to regularly and sufficiently supply zinc. This trace element activates the body’s policemen and promotes the provisioning of important immune cells.
For the immune cells to be in "good shape", an optimal supply of vitamins is also important. During a cold, the vitamin C levels in the white blood cells can decline by up to 50% – a clear indicator of the importance of this micronutrient. Zinc, Vitamins C and E supplement the immune-enhancing effect of beta-glucans in various ways, and their adequate intake may make sense to both prevent and also to support the body during existing health problems.