Can we give our own immune system a helping hand? The fridge coach explains

Since the corona has been among us, there has been a great deal of attention paid to the human immune system. This competes with pathogens, so it is important that it works properly. Can you give your own immune system a helping hand? And if so, how do you do it? The refrigerator coach, Sabine Leijten, explains.

How does the immune system work?

To put it simply, the human immune system is a vast network of organs, cells and molecules that work together. Communication between these “partners” is crucial. If there is no good communication with each other, it is much easier for unwanted uninvited guests to cause harm.
A person naturally already has an immune system, but over time, the so-called acquired immune system also develops. The latter ensures that the body can recognize certain pathogens and form antibodies against them. Take chickenpox for example. Once the body has detected this, it will start making a defense and you are then immune.

The older, the better?

Precisely because the immune system is enriched by going through infections, it seems logical that the elderly have the best defense. “However, this is not the case,” says De FridgeCoach. In fact, the immune system gets less good as we get older. Why is it like that? It’s hard to say, but studies suggest it probably has to do with bone marrow function. Important immune cells are formed in it and the bone marrow deteriorates as we get older. “The amount of immune cells then decreases, which also makes us more susceptible to diseases. Vaccines also work less well and for a long time in the elderly for this reason. ”

Less stress

Stress also appears to adversely affect the immune system. “This is about distress. It is 1 of 2 types of stress. There is stress that has a positive effect on our actions. Think about being tense before you go to the exam. This kind of stress helps you stay focused. Distress is chronic and / or long-term stress, which has a negative effect, ”explains De FridgeCoach.

In people who experience this type of stress, the balance between the stress hormone cortisol and the sleep hormone melatonin is often disturbed. When a disproportionate amount of cortisol is produced, it can be difficult to fall asleep. “It also affects our immune system. Somehow this also has a kind of sleep-wake rhythm. It is activated during the day rather than at night. At night it has the ability to recover.”
So it is important to avoid stress if you want to support your immune system. Conscious handling of the body and incorporation of the right moments of rest is necessary. Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, hypnosis: these are all tools to bring your body into a state of relaxation that lowers the amount of cortisol. “

To sleep

Rest makes the immune system good. The ultimate moment of rest, of course, is sleep. Many people do not always sleep well. The Fridge Coach has a vague suspicion that this could be the case. “In this age of all televisions, computers, tablets and blue light phones, it is very difficult to produce melatonin in a good way. Our system is also disturbed because we often sit indoors and see some real daylight. 1 advantage: because we ourselves are the initiator of this disturbed day and night rhythm, we also have the opportunity to do something about it ourselves. ”
Like what? “Put all electronics away at night and stop watching television 1.5 to 2 hours before going to bed. Also, try to turn off as much lighting as possible; the darker the better. That way, the body can really prepare for a good night’s sleep. ”

Seeing enough real daylight also helps to sleep better. “By getting outside enough, your body knows it’s day and what processes can be turned on and off.”

Sleep medicine

Of course, sleep problems can also be caused by very different causes than too little daylight and too much blue light. The Refrigerator Coach discourages you from experimenting with all kinds of sleeping pills. Always consult a doctor before doing this. He or she can not only tell you what resources you can use, but also work with you to find out where your sleep problems are coming from.

Also read: Why is it not so bad for your health to sleep well? The fridge coach explains

Exercise enough

We humans can therefore affect the immune system positively by incorporating enough rest and sleeping well, but there is more. Getting enough exercise can also help. “A lot of people getting older are starting to move less and less, which is a terrible shame,” says De FridgeCoach. Exercise helps keep the body healthy, has a relaxing effect and – you guessed it – helps the immune system stay in shape. Scientific research shows that during training, the production of T cells is stimulated, among other things. T cells are immune cells that attack unwanted invaders.


Finally, good nutrition can also help your immune system along the way. In particular, it is very important to create and maintain good intestinal health. “By taking good care of your gut flora, you are also indirectly taking care of your immunity,” says De FridgeCoach. This is because the gut plays an important role in the digestive process. During this process, vitamins and minerals are absorbed by the body. “If this does not go smoothly and smoothly, many vitamins and minerals will be lost.” This is undesirable because the body actually needs these substances to maintain the immune system. The intestines mainly benefit from food with a lot of fiber and enough fluid.

Breakfast Nice with Daniel Dekker

On 11 February 2022, Sabine Leijten will be appearing on the radio program NPO Radio 5 Breakfast Nice with Daniel Dekker on this topic. You listen Breakfast Nice with Daniel Dekker all weekdays between 12.00 and 14.00.

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