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已有 879 次阅读 2020-5-2 07:07 |个人分类:Health & Health-Care System|系统分类:科普集锦| 科普, 免疫力




How to get the best from your immune system



By Matt Richtel (for the NYT)


Journalism has given me many surprises over the years. Few compete with this sentence: Do not boost your immune system. C’mon, really? What would cause me to urge you to ignore all the accepted wisdom and powerful marketing aimed at having you boost your immunity? Because the actual science tells a very different story. The immune system is much less about exercising power than it is about finding balance. You can help train and maintain it. Here’s how. 




What Is the Immune System?



Our great defense system helps ward off the most dangerous of invaders. 


We live in a sea of organisms. Bacteria, viruses, parasites and other life forms great and small pave our surroundings, cover our skin, share our gut. Most of them mean us no harm. The job of the immune system is to keep us healthy in the midst of this challenging, complex environment.

我们生活在有机生物海洋中。细菌、病毒、寄生虫和其他大大小小的生物 存在于我们的环境中,覆盖我们的皮肤,共享我们的肠道。它们中的大多数对我们无害。免疫系统的工作是在这个充满挑战的复杂环境中保持人体的健康。

It is a common misconception that the immune system goes to war with every foreign organism. That would lead to scorched earth, nuclear winter. Instead, the job of the immune system is to take stock, monitor, assess and judge potential threats. Ideally, the immune system would find a cooperative existence with the many microbes with which we share our bodies and the planet. But if an invader is deemed a threat, the immune system has a narrow job: destroy the threat while doing as little collateral damage as possible. This response from the immune system is called “inflammation.” 

Inflammation can be a violent affair, causing an outpouring of poisonous, deadly cells and molecules aimed at clearing a pathogen out of the body. The point of infection can look like the scene of a multi-car crash. The actors in the immune system rush to assess the problem, attack it, clean the area and rebuild new tissue. 

To you, inflammation can feel like a stuffy nose, sore throat, tummy ache, fever, fatigue or headache. Yes, the symptoms of an immune response feel lousy, but you must suffer a little to keep the rest of your body healthy over the long term. And for your health and daily well-being, the key is to keep your immune system from underperforming or getting out of hand. 





It’s About Balance



The immune system, often seen as a ruthless defender, seeks a steady state, not a police state. I liken the immune system to a fiercely delicate combination of a bouncer and a ballet dancer. In fact, many molecules in this complex system are designed to send a signal that it should withdraw, pause an attack and stand down. Without these molecules, the state of inflammation that helps destroy threats would lay your body to waste.  


“You need inflammation to protect against invaders. You need policemen,” said Dr. Charles Dinarello, who discovered the molecule that causes fever. (Who better to ask when to take Tylenol? More on that in a moment.) “But if police are too rambunctious they can cause damage to innocent people.”

您需要炎症来防御入侵者。您需要警察。查尔斯·迪纳雷洛博士说。是他发现了引起发烧的分子。 (谁更想问何时服用泰诺呢?稍后再谈。)但是,如果警察过分粗鲁,他们可能会给无辜的人民造成伤害。

On a day-to-day basis, honoring the finely honed balance of the immune system is essential to feeling healthy and living well. Instead of boosting your immune system, you should be supporting it. And you should try to never undermine its delicate structures. 



Let me illustrate with a personal story of stupidity. 


A Personal Tale of Woe


The Immune System and the Beast



Let's take a moment to understand how (and why) our immune system acts in the face of a threat. 



Our immune system took shape roughly 480 million years ago. All jawed vertebrates going back to the shark share its key properties. One property is priority setting. Our defenses must calculate which threat to our survival requires the most attention at any given moment. Which requires the most resources: Infection, tissue repair or the sudden appearance of a lion or bear?


When we face an acute threat, like a lion attack, the body’s network focuses wholly on that threat. Your body goes into an emergency state you may know colloquially as “fight or flight.”


During these periods, the body fires off powerful chemicals, including: 

  • Epinephrine, which creates a kind of high for the body to subvert fatigue.

  • Norepinephrine, which also helps to subvert fatigue. 

  • Cortisol, which helps the body maintain essential functions, like blood flow.


When these hormones are at work, we can feel generally O.K., as I did while I was skiing. But not only was I still sick, I was also making things worse. That’s because the release of these fight-or-flight hormones dampens our immune response. I was causing my immune system to withdraw.




Why The Immune System Withdraws

Sleep Is a Magic Bullet



Both you and your immune system need rest. 



Exercise, Food and Meditation



Ward off illness with these three staples of a healthy body. 



Spend Time With Dirt



Exposure to a great variety of germs can help us stay healthy.



About the Author

Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter for The New York Times, has an aggressive muse he’s stopped fighting – for better or worse. He writes nonfiction books ("An Elegant Defense, the Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System" and "A Deadly Wandering"), thrillers ("Dead on Arrival"), a children's book ("Runaway Booger"), endless songs ("Don't Pick Your Nose") and created and wrote the comic strip "Rudy Park." He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children, and owes it all to them, naps, tennis and coffee.

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