Cold weather alert in Spain: How to get a healthier immune system?

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flu epidemic

MADRID – As Spain faces another episode of cold after record heat, healthcare centers are preparing for the annual flu and cold waves. Various Spanish newspapers provide tips to reduce the chance of falling prey to a virus.

There are many people with colds, runny nose, or flu and the numbers will only increase now that a new episode of cold is just around the corner in Spain. So the immune system could use a boost. Anyone who scours the internet looking for tips is inundated with good advice for better resistance.

Although social media “influencers” claim to have the magic formula for not getting sick, experts continue to emphasize that there are no ways to boost the immune system; we can only remove obstacles so that it can do its job properly.

Honey. Beetroot juice. Alfalfa sprouts. Turmeric. Anyone who searches social media for tips to strengthen the immune system or increase resistance will find a variety of supplements and recipes for rock-solid health.

‘Strengthening the immune system’ is a term that confuses. According to Dr. Suzanne Cassel, an immunologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and quoted by the newspaper, one does not need to strengthen the immune system, there must be a good balance.

Normally, the immune system protects the body against external threats. However, when this mechanism becomes out of balance and overactive, the body does not distinguish between native and foreign organisms. Then the body turns against itself, as it were, instead of against the external pathogens. Damage to tissues, inflammation, and diseases can then be the result.

Balance is the magic word

According to Dr. Cassel, the immune system is complex and we do not yet fully understand it. What is desirable is an immune system that acts like a thermostat: increasing inflammation and eliminating invaders when we have an infection, but lowering the temperature when there is no danger. It is therefore important that the immune system is only active when necessary. What can we do about this ourselves? Research shows that we can create good conditions for a healthy immune system ourselves.

Sleep well

Sleep and immunity are closely linked. For example, people who sleep less than 6 hours are more likely to catch a cold. Sleeping during illness ensures that the immune system can better fight the disease.

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No smoking and no alcohol

The toxins in tobacco smoke can, on the one hand, weaken our resistance, but also increase the risk of autoimmune diseases. Excessive alcohol consumption can also weaken the immune system.

Healthy food

Many nutritional supplements, at best, restore a system that is already out of balance. Healthy eating is therefore important. A diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and protein ensures that our bodies get enough nutrients and antioxidants that control excessive inflammation.

Healthy intestinal flora

Healthy intestinal flora is of great importance for the immune system. Soluble fiber and fermented foods, such as yogurt, are good options for maintaining healthy intestinal flora. In an experiment, bifidobacteria were found to be useful in combating a cold caused by rhinovirus infection.


Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet. Sardines, salmon, tuna, and fish roe are some of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are important for good resistance.

Avoid sugar

Reducing sugar intake can reduce inflammation and aid in weight loss, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which in turn weaken the immune system.


Studies indicate that even moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or gentle jogging, can increase the effect of vaccinations in people with a weakened immune system.

Stress management

Long-term stress is bad for immune cells. Short periods of stress, such as exercise, exposure to cold or overcoming danger, can actually improve the response of immune cells, accelerate wound healing or protect against cancer. Activities that can help manage stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and other mindfulness exercises.


Vaccinations are the only safe and effective way, besides healthy lifestyle habits, to strengthen the immune system. Vaccines contain harmless forms of pathogens that help train immune cells to recognize and fight disease. If the body later comes into contact with the real and harmful version of the pathogen, the immune cells will recognize it and immediately start fighting and destroying germs. Sometimes this happens so quickly that you don’t even notice that you are infected.

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