Shiitake and meditation, two precious tools to boost the immune system

Novel coronavirus is a highly infectious virus against which the entire world is struggling. What we can do to counteract the coronavirus, we repeat it here even at the risk of being boring, is to avoid the infection by maintaining a safe distance between people, at least one meter, by staying at home as much as possible and by following precise hygiene rules such as washing often the hands with water and soap for a minute, not touching the face with dirty hands and using hand sanitizers with a 60% alcohol. But we can also do a lot in order to boost the immune system, that, in this way, is put in the best conditions to react against any external aggression. We spoke a lot about how to boost immune defenses with diet and lifestyle, today we’ll report the results of two very recent scientific articles that show that a role to protect the immune system against respiratory infections may be played by shiitake mushrooms, meditation and physical activity. The two studies have been published by an Italian team in the journal Minerva Gastroenterology and Dietology (Di Pierro, 2020) and by an American group of scientists in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology (Meyer et al, 2019).
The researchers observed that particular molecules extracted from shiitake mushrooms, called alfa glucans, are highly immunostimulant. In particular, the alfa glucans of shiitake mushrooms stimulate the action of the immune system in people who have contracted different types of viruses, such as West Nile virus, avian influenza, influenza, hepatitis C, HIV and herpes. The study pointed out that the extracts of shiitake mushroom have not yet been tested against novel coronavirus but it is plausible to believe that their beneficial action could act also in this case since they have been proven useful in a wide range of viral infections. But also meditation and physical activity may play a role in boosting the immune system by protecting it from the infections of the respiratory tract. How? By reducing the levels of inflammation, one of the main dangers for human health. 413 adults were divided into three groups. During 8 weeks the first group was asked to do some aerobic physical activity, namely exercises that require a moderate effort for a prolonged period of time, at least 20 minutes, such as exercise bike, a walk or a run, the second group was asked to do meditation and the third nothing, it was just a control. At the end of the weeks the group that did physical activity and the group that dedicated to meditation showed lower markers of inflammation, such as C reactive protein and interferon-gamma-inducible protein-10. In addition to this, aerobic exercise and meditation have shown to act with different anti inflammatory processes to protect the respiratory tract by reducing the incidence of infections.
Of course we aren’t saying that eating a plenty of shiitake mushrooms or doing meditation for hours are enough to protect from coronavirus, but these researches have demonstrated that promoting some lifestyle and dietary choices may play a role in strengthening the body defenses in a natural way.
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