It is a common belief that the immune system is only active in case of infection and dormant in other cases. Instead, thanks to a very recent scientific research published in the journal Cell Metabolism thanks to the collaboration between a Germanic and Danish team (Loft et al, Cell Metabolism, 2022), today we know that the immune system always works, even when we are healthy, for example to convert fat into energy.
The work of the immune system
A healthy immune system is essential, not only when we get sick and our body has to cope with external threats, such as viruses, bacteria, toxins or fungi, but also when we are healthy! In fact, the immune system has cells scattered throughout the body that work even when we are fit as a fiddle, playing a central role in essential biological processes, such as energy production.
The immune system helps burn fat
A study performed in the laboratory and through computer simulations has allowed us to understand what happens to our immune system when there is no fight against an external threat. Well, scientists have found that in a healthy body the immune system is involved in the delicate process of producing energy when the body is fasting. When you don't eat for half a day, as happens when you go to school or work, the body gets the energy it needs by burning the accumulated fats. However, not all cells in the body are capable of converting fat into energy. For example, the brain cannot do this and depends on the ketone bodies produced by the liver cells through the processes of metabolizing fat. Ketone bodies are compounds that bring energy to the body even when we are fasting. The immune system in a fasting and healthy body stimulates the production of ketone bodies by the liver cells.
The importance of a healthy immune system
Also noteworthy is the fact that ketone bodies are considered essential not only in energy production processes, but also in controlling body weight, fighting chronic inflammation and protecting against cardiovascular risk. In short, the research proves to be very fascinating as it allows us to understand how important it is to take care of your immune system, always, not only when you are sick. Therefore, it is important to lead an active life, ensure a healthy and varied diet that includes antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, avoid dangerous blood sugar spikes, by preferring whole grains and avoiding sugars and processed foods, and control anxiety, stress and insomnia with yoga and meditation techniques.