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‘Immune-boosting’ myths around COVID-19

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In search of ‘immune-boosting’ hacks? Let me challenge that.

You see we don’t actually want to boost our immune system (think autoimmune conditions where the body attacks itself), just like we don’t want to suppress it either (think chemotherapy). We want a balanced immune system.

The concern around coronavirus has sent pseudoscience and misinformation through the roof – but we can’t let fear get in the way of the science. Be careful who you take advice from, including on social media.

I totally get we’re all looking to help our immune systems. Yet ultimately, there is no one superfood, diet or supplement that’ll make you immune from coronavirus, so please don’t be fooled by claims around drinking water every 15mins, the keto diet or any ‘anti-virus oils’ (yes, really…).

That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to support your immune system. Although we don’t have the hard evidence yet, it makes sense that while being healthy won’t prevent you from getting it, it can reduce the risk of becoming severely ill if you do get it.

So what should we be doing? It might sound boring without the magical promises, but trust me, these tried and tested tips work best.

How to support your immune system

  1. Eat a nutritious, varied diet with a wide range of different plant-based foods, across all six food groups – fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes (beans & pulses), nuts & seeds. Try to get as many different types as you can. Tinned, frozen, dried, it all counts.

  2. Keep up your exercise. We might be in social isolation, but if you can try to get outside for a little bit each day. If you’re staying home, there are so many great YouTube workouts, free apps and yoga videos available.

  3. Stay calm and don’t panic – managing stress levels is an important factor in looking after your gut and overall health. Trying just 15 mins of mindfulness or meditation each morning can really help.

  4. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you’re struggling, check out my colleague’s sleep hygiene protocol I share in my book Eat Yourself Healthy & Love Your Gut.