Written By Brian Greenberg, MD, for 1MD
Your immune system works non-stop to keep you healthy, and many seek to find ways to boost their immunity. Unfortunately, there are a lot of immune system myths out there that can get in the way of your health goals. It is important to separate fact from fiction so you can stay healthy, year-round.
Myth 1: Cold Weather Makes You Sick
It may seem like you catch a cold more often when the weather is cold, but the weather is not the cause. While there is a link between cold weather and increased risk of illness, this is not a causal relationship. The cold weather forces people to spend more time indoors, in closer proximity to others.
More time indoors means more frequent exposure to germs and an increased risk of getting sick. Before the weather turns cold, keep your defenses strong with some daily zinc to support strong immune cell function and get some natural relief from respiratory symptoms with a powerful botanical like African geranium.
Myth 2: Exercising Weakens the Immune System
It is natural to want to rest when you are not feeling well, so your energy can be focused on healing and recovery. While vigorous exercise can drain the body’s energy sources, developing a habit of moderate daily exercise is a reliable way to prepare your body for any germs that might come along.
White blood cells flourish when you work out and regular exercise will help stimulate the production of these important immune cells. To promote overall health, keep your routine simple with walking, jogging, or swimming, and make sure to move your body every day.
In addition to moderate exercise, certain nutrients such as chromium can support immune cell activity to promote strong immune responses. Because the bacteria in your gut make up 70% of your immune system, it is also important to maintain a healthy gut microbial balance for efficient immune activity.
Myth 3: “Feed A Cold, Starve A Fever”
This myth has been circulated through generations, but it is a myth. The activation of an immune response increases the body’s caloric demands, so you will need fuel to maintain optimal defenses. As the body fights infections, it uses energy from your diet to increase the body’s temperature as part of the defense.
A healthy nutrient-rich diet is the best way to ensure your body and immune system gets the fuel and support it needs. In addition to a healthful diet, the support of certain nutrients like vitamin C can help maintain epithelial health, which is the first line of defense.
Myth 4: Hand Sanitizing Is More Effective Than Hand Washing
The alcohol in hand sanitizer deactivates viruses to prevent them from transferring from your hands, but does not remove microbes as effectively as hand washing. Handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.
Sanitizer is a convenient way to clean your hands on the go, but should not replace hand washing. You can also boost your immune system with natural ingredients like elderberry berries, which protect against oxidative damage, L-lysine to reduce stress and anxiety, and marshmallow root which encourages immune cell activity.
Myth 5: Allergies Are A Sign Of A Weakened Immune System
Allergies are triggered by harmless molecules like dust, pollen, and pet dander. The presence of an allergen triggers an immune response, meaning that allergies are not a sign of a weakened immune system, but rather an overactive one.
Allergies can trigger respiratory symptoms such as cough, headache, congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, or sore throat. You can sustain immune system function with L-cysteine, which is known to support lung tissue function and normal mucous thickness, and vitamin D3, which supports respiratory functions.
When you can differentiate between fact and fiction, you have the power to keep your immune system and defenses strong. Your overall health depends on this and with a healthy routine and immune-boosting nutrients, you can take on environmental threats and immune health with confidence.