Currently, many of us suffer from coughs, colds and viral infections. We feel weak and often cannot perform our daily activities for several weeks. Older people, in particular, can take a very long time to recover from a viral infection due to their weaker immune system.
When we get infected with a virus, our immune system reacts by producing so-called “killer cells”. Those killer cells recognise affected cells that are attacked by pathogens and destroy them to protect the body from the spreading of the virus.
The so-called “B cells” also support the body’s own recovery process. As soon as they come into contact with a virus, they begin to produce antibodies that fight the foreign organism. They also ensure that the “memory” of the immune system is activated so that it remembers the virus when it comes into contact with it again and can, therefore, fight it more quickly and efficiently.
With increasing age, the functionality of our immune system decreases. The body reacts more slowly to acute infections, which delays the recovery time. Infections, therefore, represent an increased health risk. A group of renowned scientists from Oxford has studied the deterioration of the immune response in old age. During their research, they found that the decrease in autophagy – the body’s own cell renewal mechanism – is a major reason for the immune system to act more slowly and not “remember” previous infections well.
The good news is that the immune system can thus be strengthened by activating autophagy. Autophagy (from ancient Greek autóphagos “consuming itself”) is an endogenous renewal process that can take place in any cell. Over time, toxins and other “cell waste” accumulate everywhere in our body as a normal result of cell functions. Autophagy ensures that this cellular waste is recycled and disposed of, keeping our body cells young and healthy.
The older we get, the less our body is able to induce the autophagy process itself. The intake of spermidine-rich supplements can help the body to start autophagy and consequently, strengthen the immune system. Spermidine is a natural substance that the body can produce in small quantities by itself and is also found in various foods, such as wheat germ. Particularly with increasing age, it is reasonable to add spermidine in the form of dietary supplements to our daily meals in order to stimulate cell renewal and strengthen the immune system.