Caring for our immune system holidays

Written by: Dr. Javier Carbone Campoverde
Edited by: Top Doctors®

The holidays are an important opportunity to improve our health. However, they can also be related to certain risk situations for people with immune-based diseases and for healthy people.

It is very important to note that holidays are an opportunity for the exercise of self - care, both in healthy people and those suffering from autoimmune diseases. In other countries much exercise promotes both self-care not sick enough not to worsen, should be.


Self immune system

  • A person who has undergone a transplant, if during the holidays relaxing and neglects its immunosuppressive therapy may have a rejection.
  • If I am a patient with immunodeficiency and neglect my diet when traveling to countries with poor sanitary conditions, I have more risk of developing intestinal infectious diseases.
  • If I have lupus, I know I have to protect myself from sunlight, using appropriate blocking creams, because if I do, I run the risk of having an outbreak. Experimental studies have concluded that ultraviolet light can enhance gene stimulators interferons that could participate in this predisposition to an inflammatory outbreak.

But healthy people.

  • A healthy person who wants to go to areas with epidemic or endemic diseases will be vaccinated some or take some medications to prevent them. This is the case of malaria.


We know that during the Christmas holidays or summer we can exceed the intake of foods, abuse of sugary drinks or simply lose our usual feeding routine. It is also known that being overweight can affect the immune system, and that excess sugar can have a pro-inflammatory effect and in a way it can suppress immune responses.

In metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, gout, atherosclerosis or an inflammatory condition caused by damage associated molecular patterns occurs. These substances are recognized by receptors like Toll-like receptors, found in the cells of the innate immune system, which can result in damage mediating signals.


Factors affecting our immune system holidays

If during the holiday we most often indoors with crowds of people we can have more chance of getting respiratory infectious diseases, especially in the colder months, where we have the Christmas holidays.

What can we do to keep our immune system in good condition during the holidays?

  • A balanced intake of proteins (animal or vegetable) is important for immunological homeostasis proteins.
  • People living in low sunlight may need to control the level of vitamin D and / or receive supplements under medical prescription (if necessary). Vitamin D is important for the functioning of some immunological mechanisms. For example, Vitamin D, which is obtained predominantly from sunlight and foods, can have an immunomodulatory effect in the urothelium to help control infections such as those caused by Escherichia coli.


On the other hand, experts from the Mayo Clinic report that laughter improves mood and also can have positive effects on the immune system. I found an article that has studied this issue and reflects that laughter and humor can increase levels of immune mediators such as secretory IgA or natural killer (NK) cells.

It also tells us that positive thoughts help release neuropeptides that can prevent stress and other diseases.

But during the holidays we also submit to other stress related to long road trips, plane, long lines, etc.. Some of these factors can affect the immune system. For example, psychological factors, which can increase the risk of infections.

On the other hand, studies show that more anxiety fewer CD4 cells expressing defense IL2 cytokine important for lymphocyte activation. Other studies show that stress is associated with lower rates of lymphocyte proliferation.

Paradoxically, this chapter stress has been suggested that psychological stress is an anti-inflammatory cytokines such as potent inducer of IL10. So is adrenalin and glucocorticoids.

Therefore, we could say that moving from job stress to the tranquility of the holiday (if this really is) may be associated with decreased production of IL10, and this associated with increased inflammation and therefore a greater predisposition to some diseases.

We should note that immune responses are led by genetic patterns and that these are not the same in all people, which complicates any attempt to simply interpret these issues and risks.


Guidelines to take care of our immune system

Regular exercise, avoiding overexertion, can also help to keep the immune system in good condition.

Numerous studies have shown that physical exercise affects endothelial function plays an important role in the control of inflammation and oxidative stress. It is known to increase levels of nitric oxide, which is an antioxidant. Furthermore, experimental animal studies have analyzed the possible positive role of exercise in animal obesos- even on cellular infiltrates, profiles of cytokines and chemokines in the lung epithelium, which may be important to control respiratory infections well.

Sleep is another important for a healthy immune system during the holidays factor. Reducing sleep time triggers a state of stress that can lead to an increased level of glucocorticoids and adrenaline. These substances regulate components of the immune system, for example, NK cells. Studies in mice have shown that sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in the number and function of these cells.

If we look at these guidelines we can draw some conclusions about what we can do to keep our immune system in good condition during the holidays.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Javier Carbone Campoverde

Dr. Carbone is an expert in different immunological diseases including primary and secondary immunodeficiencies, repeat abortions and autoimmune diseases. Specialist in Clinical Immunology responsible for Outpatient and Hospitalized Consultations in the Immunology Service of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid. Doctor of Medicine with 25 years of specific training in Clinical Immunology in Spain, England and the United States.

Head of the Immunology Unit at the Santa Elena Clinic in Madrid. Account with External Consultation and Day Hospital for the administration of Immunological Therapies.

Dr. Carbone was the first specialist in Clinical Immunology in Spain who was specifically hired to carry out a Hospital Clinical Immunology Unit of national reference for the direct care of patients.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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