Stop trying to boost your immune system
I absolutely hate getting sick. I know everyone does, and everyone claims to be the ‘worst patient ever’ but I absolutely hate. getting. sick… plus I actually am the worst patient ever... So I do what I can to ‘boost’ my immune system. Except boosting your immune system isn’t really a thing. Sorry.
A boosted immune system sounds like a stronger immune system. And a stronger immune system sounds like it should be better at fighting off disease. But the reason it sounds like that to us regular idiots is because we don’t understand how the immune system works. It’s not about strength it’s about balance. And if it’s off balance, as in, if the immune system is weakened, the body is more at risk of infection. Conversely, if the immune system is overactive, it attacks the body in the form of autoimmune disease.
So instead of boosting our immune system, maybe we should be thinking about how not to wreck it?
- Chill Out
Studies indicate that psychological stress can promote the development and progression of disease. When you get a runny nose from a cold, that’s the body’s way of fighting the infection. It’s what’s called an inflammatory response. And if you’re stressing about something, it can affect your body’s ability to regulate the inflammatory response, which means you’re more likely to catch a cold when it’s going around.
- Get Some Sleep
Getting more sleep won’t boost your immune system, but not getting enough can compromise it. The protein that targets infection and inflammation is produced and released when we sleep, so if you aren’t asleep, you aren’t producing or releasing that good stuff. That means your symptoms are going to hang about longer. Go take a nap, sicky.
- You Want The D
The jury’s still out on Vitamin D supplementation and the immune system, but there is some evidence to indicate that it protects against respiratory infections, especially if you’re deficient. So maybe go get your levels checked first before rushing out on a D-spree to fight your nasty-ass cold.
- Eat Well
There isn’t a single food that has been proven to boost or support the immune system, and anyone who says they benefited from, say, bone broth, garlic water, or turmeric is saying so from an anecdotal stand point rather than a scientific one. But eating a balanced diet with plenty of vitamin-and-mineral-packed fresh food is known to promote good health. So maybe let’s all focus on that instead of weird and wonderful remedies from suspect sources and ‘experts’ of questionable calibre - although I should admit that I do take echinacea if I know there’s a cold going around, despite the science behind its ability to shorten the duration of symptoms being pretty wooly. And I also take a multivit on the daily, despite the science behind their ability to prevent any sort of illness being almost non-existent.
But that’s only because I absolutely hate. getting. sick… plus I actually am the worst patient ever.
Follow Libby Bearman on Instagram: @LiftLikeLibby