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Strengthen the body's defenses: arm yourself against the coronavirus with an intact immune system
Regular hand washing, keeping your distance from other people and wearing a nose and throat protection when shopping and on public transport: You can hardly do more against the corona virus, right? But: You can strengthen your immune system. Because experts assume that a weakened immune system increases the risk of a severe course of the disease.
The lung disease COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, can be life-threatening, especially for the elderly. But it's not just them who have an increased risk of developing a serious illness. People with weak defenses are also at risk. It is therefore important to strengthen the immune system.
Much advice has not been taken
It is important now to strengthen the immune system - not only to protect yourself from a cold or the flu, but also to be optimally prepared for a possible corona infection.
A wide variety of recommendations are currently circulating on various blogs and online advertising sites. However, the majority of the advice is not documented and mostly costs money.
The Consumer Service Bavaria has summarized important facts in a current message.
Vitamins important for the immune system
As the experts explain, we generally take in enough vitamins A, D, C, folate, vitamins B6 and B12 as well as the trace elements zinc, iron, copper and selenium with a varied diet.
This also applies to vitamin C, which is often said to have miraculous powers in relation to COVID-19. However, there are no current studies on this.
So far, scientists have not been able to determine any effects on colds caused by additional vitamin C intake.
Do you really need nutritional supplements?
Although it is permitted to advertise foods or food supplements (NEM) with a certain amount of vitamins A, D, C, folate, vitamins B6 and B12 with statements on an immune-boosting effect, caution with supplementation is nevertheless necessary.
For example, for the vitamin D supply, the skin's own synthesis when staying outdoors as well as the intake through food is normally sufficient. Only in the case of a proven deficiency is it advisable to consume it after consulting the doctor.
It also applies to minerals that additional intake is advisable only if there is a deficiency. According to the Consumer Service, too much can disrupt the finely tuned metabolic processes. And so it is possible that an increased intake of iron supplements even weakens the immune defense.
Superfoods: No single food can replace a balanced diet
At present, statements about various foods are distributed in some media and social networks, which are supposed to help against or with a corona infection due to their ingredients. However, these effects have not been proven.
So-called superfoods can contribute to our health as part of a balanced diet.
But in general, no single food alone can replace a balanced diet.
Local foods with valuable immune-boosting ingredients include currants, beetroot, kale, walnuts, onion plants, oats or wild herbs.
Tips for an immune-boosting diet
As the Consumer Service writes, we strengthen our immune system and the intestinal barrier directly through a balanced intestinal-friendly diet. This prevents the penetration of germs and pollutants into the body and promotes the presence of protective intestinal bacteria. The experts have summarized a few tips:
- One to two servings of acidified milk products daily, such as 150 ml of natural yoghurt, buttermilk or raw sauerkraut. Finally, do not heat the fermented products anymore, otherwise the helpful lactic acid bacteria will be killed.
- Dietary fiber serves, among other things, as feed for the protective intestinal bacteria. Fruit and vegetables of all kinds are recommended for every meal. This corresponds to two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables. Cabbage vegetables, yellow beets, salsify or chicory are particularly high in fiber. For example, a plate of pureed vegetable soup with a slice of whole grain bread contains about 15 grams of fiber. This corresponds to half of the minimum recommendation of 30 grams per day.
- Whole-grain cereals rich in fiber every day in bread and pasta or dishes with barley barley, oatmeal, bulgur or couscous.
- Once a week legumes such as beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas.
- Flax seeds, nuts and dried fruits also increase the fiber content in the diet.
- Resistant starch, which is produced by heating and then cooling starchy foods, is also an important nutrient for intestinal bacteria. It is contained in potato salad, bread crusts or salad made from legumes.
- A liquid amount of at least 1.5 liters is essential to swell the fiber. It also keeps the mucous membranes moist, which helps the immune system fight off pathogens. Suitable drinks: (mineral) water, unsweetened herbal or fruit teas or highly diluted juice spritzer (1: 4). Carbonated drinks are tolerated differently. Highly sugary drinks such as soft drinks or pure juices are unfavorable.
- Polyphenols are phytochemicals that promote the growth of protective intestinal bacteria. They are found in many types of fruit and vegetables. Abundant in nuts, wild herbs, berries, olive oil, cocoa, coffee and black tea.
- Other phytochemicals such as glucosinolates (mustard oils) in cabbage, cress, horseradish and mustard or sulfides in garlic and bulbous plants have an antibacterial and immune-boosting effect.
- An immune-boosting effect does not work like an antibiotic dose. Only if you permanently consume a mixture of the foods recommended here does the immune system have the chance to protect the body.
As the Consumer Service Bavaria concludes, in addition to a balanced diet with fresh food, a structured daily routine with enough sleep and at least 30 minutes of exercise in the fresh air is important to replenish our vitamin D stores, to remain physically fit and also (psychologically) Relieve stress.
According to experts, alcohol consumption should be avoided and smoking should be avoided altogether. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.