We often hear folks talking about tips and techniques for boosting your immune system.
Do any of them work?
Can You Boost Your Immune System?
While it would be great if there were simple things that we could do to boost our immune systems to keep us from getting sick, especially in the middle of a pandemic, unfortunately, most of you already know the answer.
“The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. For now, there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.”How to boost your immune system – Harvard Health
There are no miracle vitamins or supplements that will boost your immune system.
“The short answer to the question – how do you boost your immune system – is that you can’t. The very concept of “boosting” the immune system is not scientific and does not exist within mainstream medicine. That’s because it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of immunity, and of biological systems.”Steven Novella on Boosting Your Immune System During a Pandemic
You can try and avoid things that suppress or impair your immune system, like not smoking, not drinking alcohol to excess, and not becoming sleep deprived, etc.
“To keep your immune system functioning optimally you need to be well nourished. The best way to do this is to have a good well-rounded diet.”Steven Novella on Boosting Your Immune System During a Pandemic
You also want to avoid becoming malnourished and avoid too much stress.
But again, there are no quick and easy ways to boost your immune system.
You should also understand that eating a variety of healthy foods simply helps your immune system work the way it is supposed to work at its normal level.
“Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system, which may offer protection from seasonal illness and other health problems. No one food or supplement can prevent illness but you may help support your immune system by including these nutrients in your overall eating plan on a regular basis.”Support Your Health With Nutrition
Unless you have a nutritional deficiency, you aren’t going to boost your immune system and make it work extra well by eating extra carrots, strawberries, oysters, garlic or taking any kind of immune boost supplement.
“Colloquially, many people use the word “immunity” when they actually just mean “good health”. While a healthy diet and exercise improves a person’s general health (and the capacity of their immune system), this cannot make him/her immune from COVID-19. Further, the most severe cases of COVID-19 are made worse by an overreaction of the immune system. So trying to boost general immunity or trying to interfere with its regulation using untested methods, may be risky.”Public Statement on Alternate Cures
Not surprisingly, a lot of the talk about immune system boosting comes from anti-vaccine circles.
Probably because it helps them justify not vaccinating and protecting their kids.
“Vitamin and mineral supplements can help if you’re deficient in something specific, but if you’re eating a healthy balanced diet and taking regular exercise you’re probably already doing enough to keep your immune system in good shape.”Can I really boost my immune system?
After all, they are going to need all of the extra help they can get if they are unvaccinated, unprotected, and at risk to get measles and other vaccine preventable diseases.
Tips to Avoid Infections
Which brings us to the ways to help avoid infections – the reason most folks are looking to boost their immune system in the first place.
At the top of the list?
Get up to date on your vaccines.
“Vaccines help your immune system fight infections faster and more effectively. When you get a vaccine, it sparks your immune response, helping your body fight off and remember the germ so it can attack it if the germ ever invades again. And since vaccines are made of very small amounts of weak or dead germs, they won’t make you sick.”Vaccines Protect You
If you are vaccinated and protected, you won’t get sick and you will also avoid the immunosuppression that many vaccine-preventable diseases can cause.
What else can you do?
“Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.”Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu
You probably don’t need a reminder after a few months of quarantine because of the cororanirus, but you can often decrease your risk of getting sick getting by:
- avoiding lots of people, especially close contact with anyone who is obviously sick
- washing your hands often, especially after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, before eating or preparing food, and after contact with an animal, etc.
- not touching your face, especially your eyes, nose or mouth, so that any germs on your hands don’t make their way into your body
And understand that you really wouldn’t want to boost your immune system even if you could.
While it is not good to have a weak immune system, you also don’t want an immune system that is overactive, as that is associated with conditions like asthma, eczema, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
I guess people are lucky that none of the immune boosters these folks sell actually work…
More on Boosting Your Immune System
- More Questions to Help You Become a Vaccine Skeptic
- A Parent’s Guide to Complementary and Integrative Medicine
- Is There Evidence for That Therapy, or No?
- Follow These Social Media Doctors Fighting Medical Misinformation
- What Are the Best Foods for Kids?
- Which Vitamins Should My Kids Take?
- Boosting Your Immune System During a Pandemic
- Boost Your Immune System?
- Boosting the immune system – sorting science from myth
- Study – Boosting the Immune System, From Science to Myth: Analysis the Infosphere With Google
- CDC – Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu
- HHS – Vaccines Protect You
- The Top 10 Cold & Flu Myths
- Measles and Immune Amnesia
- Immune system boosting
- Support Your Health With Nutrition
- How to Keep Your Immune System Healthy
- How Sleep Affects Your Immunity
- Public Statement on Alternate Cures
- Why bingeing on health foods won’t boost your immune system
- Can I really boost my immune system?
- Boost Your Immune System (or Not).” Skeptoid Podcast.
- ‘Boosting’ your immune system is a terrible idea.
- No, you probably can’t ‘boost’ your immune system to prevent coronavirus. Here’s why.
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