Along with the emergence of a new coronavirus strain last year came the uptick of interest in our immune system. As a result, facts about our immune system have intermingled with myths and it can be hard to separate truth from fiction. So, let’s take a look at the immune system: fact or myth?
Extra vitamins will boost my immune system
Myth. Boosting your daily intake of your multivitamins will not help improve your immune system. Keep taking your regular dose to supplement what you may be missing in your daily diet, but don’t count on them to help you ward off COVID or any other virus.
Gargling with warm water will kill viruses
Myth. Gargling with warm water or with salt and vinegar has no impact on your immune system, nor will it kill viruses. If you find relief gargling with warm water for a sore throat, enjoy the temporary relief it provides but don’t expect anything more than that.
Low to moderate activity will boost your immune system
Fact. Engaging in activities like yoga and other lower impact exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day will help reduce cortisol levels and the stress response in the body. As a result, the immune system response strengthens as chronically high cortisol levels are reduced.
Being born with a strong immune system prevents illness
Myth. Your immune system weakens over time. This is part of why older people are more at risk for COVID and other viruses. It’s important to keep underlying chronic conditions under control as you age to decrease the risk of contracting viruses.
Vaccinations will prevent future illnesses of a similar virus
Myth. The flu vaccination is a perfect example of how strains change and how the immune system is not weakened by the vaccination itself. Each year a new vaccine is designed to fight off the specific virus that’s most likely to impact people that season. It’s too early to tell what will happen with the COVID vaccine long-term.
Eating fruits and veggies keeps your immune system strong
Fact. Studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables get sick less. By eating these nutrient packed foods, the immune system is boosted and is able to better fight off viruses and bacteria. Aim for 5-7 servings each day for better health.
If I’ve had COVID-19 I am immune forever
Myth. While those who have COVID are immune for a period of time, it’s yet to be determined how long that will last. Many cases of reinfection have been reported across the world and most experts agree that the length of immunity has yet to be known.
Getting good sleep supports a healthy immune system.
Fact. Restorative sleep is necessary to have a positive impact on the immune system. Typically, 7-9 hours is needed for the average adult to experience this kind of sleep and reap the benefits of a strong immune response.
When it comes to the immune system, fact or myth is a question you should always ask when hearing or reading something new. In fact, feel free to do your own research on the facts and myths we listed and see what you find for yourself!