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How does human immunity work and how can you help it?

Human immunity is a complex multi-level system. Let’s try to deal with each of the three.

The first level

These are the protective barriers of our skin, mucous membranes. For example, there are many different antibodies on the lips that fight the bacteria and viruses that settle on them. A similar process is observed in other mucous membranes, including the intestinal envelope. This protection is immediate and mechanical.

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The second level

It is an antiviral protection, including against local lesions (e.g. wounds and cuts). The various viruses that are quite common in our respiratory tract often don’t break the barrier simply because local cellular immunity is able to deal with them right here. So that, each cell has its own immunity, and its ability to fight the virus. In addition, at this local level, special cells that help struggling cells to do so even more effectively are pulled into the inflammation. One of the «weapons» of these cells is interferon. It is a means of antiviral protection, which is locally produced to combat infection.

The third level

This is like any serious military equipment, requires time to install. So the big answer is to produce antibodies. And it takes about two weeks. That is, if the virus «attacked» on a person now, this answer «will arrive» in two weeks and will clean up all the remnants of the virus, with which the immunity locally failed.

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How to assess immunity

There is no such a thing as «good immunity», nor the concept of «bad immunity». These are genetic traits, to which are added those that are introduced during a person’s life. For example, a recent course of antibiotics has affected the intestinal microbiome.

At the same time, bacteria there represent one of the lines of immunity defense. It turns out that after a course of antibiotics (for the treatment of any disease) you got rid of one problem, but the general immunity was affected. Of course, not forever: the bacteria in the intestine gradually recover, and when taking probiotics and with a good diet, the process is active. But with age, the microbiome recovers less well than at earlier times.

To summarize, the level of human immunity is determined by the genetic and environmental components. Unfortunately, immunity is not designed in such a way that it can always be maintained at a high level. To give you an example: what happens if you turn on the vacuum cleaner and leave it active? It will be working for a while, and then overheat. So does the human immunity. Therefore, all means of increasing immunity are good when they are at the time.

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For example, if you live in a city far away from the source of the disease and begin to prepare for a viral attack, you will meet it with enhanced immunity. However all the time «protection» will not be able to be in this «elevated» state. After two weeks, the immune system will become accustomed to the level of stimulation you give it (for example, taking ginseng, which is a powerful adaptogen), and will respond to external calls just as it did two weeks ago. So you boosted an  immunity, and then it’s getting back to a stable state.

When to strengthen the immune system

It makes sense to raise immunity if you feel the first signs of malaise (you do not know whether you have a coronavirus or a common cold). In this case, you can raise immunity - suddenly the virus came.

The second situation where it is recommended to raise immunity - if you suspect that you were in contact with a sick person, that is, have been attacked by the virus. In all other cases, you just need to take care of the general condition of the body.

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How to strengthen immunity

By and large, all folk ways of strengthening immunity (except frankly «harmful»), work. One of the effective means is vitamin C. It will not protect your body against the virus, but will reduce the viral load, so that the replication of the virus in the tissues will be slower, and the head will ache not on the third, but, say, fifth day. And you may never be in a critical situation. However, there are contraindications even to the intake of «harmless» vitamin C: kidney stones (for men), a problem with hemochromatosis (when the body accelerates the process of iron deposition due to elevated levels of vitamin C).

The second universal tip to increase immunity: if you have any favorite adaptogen, remember that it cannot work effectively indefinitely. The body gets used to the same stimulus. So in a situation where every two weeks you need to significantly raise your immunity, do it in different ways. For example, if you are drinking ginseng now, then two weeks later start taking vitamin C.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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