Immune system

Weak immune system

How you can support your body.

There are many microorganisms around us - bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites. Have you ever wondered why some people get sick much faster than others? Or are you one of those people who are ill for most of the winter?

Here you will find an overview of the tasks of the immune system, the causes of a weak immune system, its symptoms and good tips on what you can do about it.


Functions of the immune system

The immune system is not a "tangible" organ like the heart or the liver. It consists of diverse, highly complex structures that are distributed as a network throughout the body. The bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, intestinal mucosa, skin and a multitude of specialised immune cells with immune messengers and immunoglobulins in blood and tissues are involved. This enables the immune system to respond adequately to an antigenic stimulus.

The immune system fulfils the following tasks, among others:

  • Maintaining barriers (skin, intestine)
  • Differentiating between the body's own and foreign substances
  • Defence against substances foreign to the body (microorganisms)
  • Recognition and neutralisation of antigens - and at the same time tolerance of common/known foreign substances
  • Recognition and killing of mutated cells
  • Establishment of an immunological memory

Symptoms of a weak immune system

When we talk about a weak immune system, most people associate this with constant colds. But the following symptoms also point to a weakened immune system:

  • Tiredness, lack of energy, fatigue
  • Concentration problems
  • Susceptibility to infections (flu, kidney-bladder infections etc.)
  • Allergies (e.g. hay fever)
  • Autoimmune diseases

Causes for weakened defences

The causes of a weak immune system can be very different. An unhealthy lifestyle is one of the main reasons; stress, frequent alcohol and nicotine consumption as well as lack of exercise or sleep can lead to our body's own defence system no longer running at full speed. An unbalanced diet and radical diets can also result in a weak immune system.

However, the following diseases can also be the cause of immunodeficiency:

  • Chronic bacterial infections and some viral diseases (HIV, herpes, measles).
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Protein loss syndromes
  • Malnutrition (anorexia)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Cancers, especially of the haematopoietic cells
  • Immunodeficiency caused by medical measures, e.g. cortisone, radiation, chemotherapy

For many people, immunological "punch" decreases with age because the body's defences weaken. The production of antibodies is impaired, immune cells react too weakly to foreign substances, and white blood cells destroy bacteria less efficiently. These changes mean that many older people are more susceptible to infection. However, not all have weaker immune systems. Some of them have an immune system that is just as efficient as that of a younger person.

But younger people and children can also often be affected by infections and allergies (e.g. hay fever). Nutritional status and the supply of immune-relevant micronutrients are important factors influencing susceptibility to infections or allergies. Regular, preventive nutritional supplementation with vitamins, minerals and trace elements for a few weeks can help to reliably and significantly improve the body's immune response.

Support for a weak immune system

A functioning immune system depends on a sufficient supply of micronutrients. The following micronutrients are recommended:

  • Zinc

Zinc is important for the regulation of the immune response, a zinc deficiency can lead to an increase in the risk of infection.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C leads to an upregulation of the "natural killer cells" (NK cells), promotes the formation of lymphocytes (defence cells) as well as cytokines and immunoglobulins (in response to an infection). It has a virostatic (inhibiting the multiplication of e.g. the influenza virus) and antibacterial effect.

  • Selenium

Selenium deficiency increases susceptibility to infections. In Europe, sufficient selenium intake through food is not always guaranteed because the soils are low in selenium compared to other regions.

  • Beta-glucan from yeast

Beta-glucan stimulates immune cells (e.g. NK cells) and immunological receptors. Studies show a benefit of beta-glucan in reducing susceptibility to infections and pollen allergies.

  • Multivitamin and mineral preparation

Regularly taking a multivitamin-mineral preparation as a basic supply can be useful.

  • Probiotics

A diet with prebiotic fibre such as inulin (found in chicory) and other fructo- or galactooligosaccharides (dietary fibres consisting of multiple sugars) promotes a healthy diversity of intestinal bacteria and prevents disease-causing bacteria from spreading in the gut. Probiotics containing strains of bacteria (e.g. Streptococcus salivarius k12), which - taken orally - exert their protective effect in the mouth, can reduce the incidence of viral and bacterial infections. 

  • Heavy metals

Have your exposure to heavy metals determined from time to time (e.g. in your urine, hair or blood). Heavy metals have a massive effect on the immune system and can lead to susceptibility to infections and other immunological diseases.

  • Avoid stress.
  • Make sure you get good quality sleep.
  • Exercise and physical activity are important for a healthy immune system.
  • Excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and drugs puts a strain on the immune system.
  • Vitamin D

Make sure you have a good supply of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for an intact immune system. In the summer months, vitamin D can be produced independently in our skin by UV light (if you occasionally spend a short time outdoors without sun protection). In the winter months, it is advisable to take a sufficiently dosed vitamin D supplement. In addition, an intact, well-groomed skin prevents microorganisms from entering our body.

  • Make sure you eat a balanced diet.

Above all, fresh, less processed foods, vegetables (especially leeks and cabbage), fruit, high-quality proteins (preferably from various sources) and unrefined, cold-pressed oils should be consumed.


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