Dr Yashica Khalawan, a general practitioner, debunks several immune boosting myths and clarifies the facts.
Immune boosting has been a trending topic since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the concept of immune boosting is scientifically misleading and often used to market unproven products and therapies. There is currently no evidence that any product or practice will contribute to enhanced “immune boosting” protection against COVID-19
The following are two common myths regarding immune boosting:
Myth: The more active your immune system is, the healthier you are.
Fact: A hyperactive immune response is responsible for allergic reactions to ordinary non-toxic substances. It also underlies several major diseases, including diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Myth: Receiving more than the recommended dietary allowance of a vitamin or mineral will improve your immune system.
Fact: There is no evidence that taking extra amounts of any vitamin will improve your immune system or protect you if you don’t have a micronutrient deficiency.
What we do know is several mineral and vitamins have antioxidant, immunomodulatory and antimicrobial roles which could be helpful for the immune response against the COVID-19 virus.
A well-balanced diet ensures intake of these nutrients. Feed yourself and your family lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid highly processed foods.
Zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D stand out for having immunomodulatory function and play vital roles in preserving physical tissue barriers in the skin and mucous membranes.
Here are foods to incorporate in your diet to help boost these elements:
Zinc: legumes (chickpeas), seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, dark chocolate
Vitamin C: citric fruits, peppers, strawberries, black currents, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, spinach, and kale.
Vitamin D: sunlight exposure, salmon (Omega 3’s), sardines, cod liver oil, tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified foods.
An elevated blood glucose level is a strong predictor of severity of illness and mortality in patients infected with COVID-19. Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus is expected to predispose to infection and a more adverse outcome with increased complications in persons exposed to COVID-19.
Keeping stress levels down and getting enough sleep can be challenging during the pandemic, however, this can also impair the immune system. Ensure you are remaining physically active and practice sleep hygiene, aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Despite all the current challenges we face, focus on making healthy choices daily, keep your blood glucose levels stable and follow the preventative measures to keep you and your family healthy and safe.
Dr Yashica Khalawan MBCHB(UKZN), Adv dip in Aesthetic Medicine(FPD) has over six years’ experience as a general practitioner. Having worked in a non-surgical aesthetic practice for the past three years, she is now completing her post graduate diploma in dermatology through the University or Plymouth(UK).
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