immune system

Colds, flu, gastrointestinal… Discover the measures to take to have a strong immune system and escape viruses!

The immune system: a fighter

You could say that the human body is “perfectly equipped” to deal with foreign threats, such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. The immune system is a highly complex defense system that the body uses to resist disease. Imagine a legion of tiny soldiers ready to fight when a health threat arises. Fever and inflammation are examples of weapons used by the body to protect it from possible attacks.

The ability of the immune system to defend the body is unfortunately not foolproof. Furthermore, it is not immutable; it is rather variable. Thus, during certain periods, and in the presence of various factors, the “competence” of the immune system can be compromised.

Here are some examples of factors known to “weaken” the immune system:

  • smoking;
  • chronic stress;
  • lack of sleep;
  • malnutrition;
  • old age.

It is important to note here that some people may have their system weakened by certain medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, cancer or HIV) or by treatments (e.g. radiotherapy or chemotherapy). This text is intended to be general and is therefore intended for people who are usually in good health, and not for those people who require special medical care.

The truth about products to boost the immune system

Currently, no drug or product has been officially approved by Health Canada to strengthen the immune system in generally healthy people. However, certain products available in pharmacies have shown promising results in this regard in clinical studies. This is the case, for example, of:

  • garlic;
  • echinacea;
  • ginseng;
  • spirulina;
  • zinc;
  • vitamin C;
  • trace elements;
  • omega-3;
  • probiotics.

For most of them, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions as to their effectiveness given the results of sometimes contradictory or insufficient studies. However, note that these products are considered to be usually well tolerated, as well as safe and otherwise beneficial to health.

Other effective measures

Your lifestyle influences your health and that of your immune system. Here are ten effective and affordable measures that can help protect you from infection.

  • Stop smoking. Smoking considerably weakens your immune system and greatly increases your risk of getting certain infections and developing cancer. Your pharmacist can help you with your smoking cessation process.
  • Eat well. Adopting healthy eating habits contributes to your health in many ways. Among other things, it helps boost your immune system.
  • Sleep well. Sleep is a great way to allow your body and its many functions to recover. Sleepless nights disturb and weaken the immune system. So make your sleep hygiene a priority; so does your health.
  • Exercise regularly. Studies have shown that regular physical activity helps strengthen your immune system, as well as providing many other health benefits.
  • Reduce the stress levelBeing stressed or exhausted weakens you and your immune system. Resting, taking care of yourself and having a positive attitude are measures that help reduce your susceptibility to infections.
  • Use saline solution. Keeping your nasal passages well hydrated, especially during the cold season when house air is dry, can reduce your risk of getting a respiratory infection. The use of a saline solution and, in some cases, a humidifier can be beneficial.
  • Take a vitamin and mineral supplement. Some people consider taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. Ensuring an adequate intake of some of these nutrients can actually contribute to the health of the immune system, but it is better to focus on quality food first.
  • Wash your hands often. Hand washing is a simple and effective measure that can greatly reduce the risk of infections. So make it a good habit for you and your family members! Using antiseptic gels can have some benefits.
  • Get the flu shot. Fortunately, these days it is possible to get the flu shot and reduce the risk of getting the flu and its consequences, which can sometimes be very serious.
  • Limit contact with infected people. If someone you know is infected with a virus, try to avoid closer contact, such as kissing and shaking hands. Remember that some viruses can also be spread through contact with infected objects.