Covid-19: Can you boost your immune system with food?

By Hannah Buckland, Healthy Hearts Care Planner

As Covid-19 continues to spread and impact our lives, people are, understandably, searching for ways to protect themselves from the virus. Unfortunately, pseudoscience has a tendency to spread during times of uncertainty, and high levels of desperation and fear have led to the circulation of a lot of misinformation. Whether it’s advice posted in a WhatsApp group, or recommendations we’ve heard from a “friend of a friend who’s a doctor”, we’re here to bust some of the myths we’ve encountered when it comes to food and immunity.

Garlic, green tea, mushrooms, ginger, turmeric – all these foods (and many more) claim to boost your immune system, as do supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc. However, the idea that you can “boost” your immune system is actually a misunderstanding of how it works. Your immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that help to protect your body against infection, and it is healthiest when in balance. In fact, if overactive, it can lead to issues such as autoimmune conditions or allergies – so the last thing you want to do is boost it! What you can do is support your immune system by eating a variety of foods – including lots of fruit and vegetables – that will provide it with the many different nutrients required to function normally. Engaging in regular physical activity, sleeping an adequate amount, and trying to manage stress can also help to support your immune system.

There is no evidence that any of the foods listed above will protect you from Covid-19. Remember, no food or supplement can provide either a miracle cure or prevention from disease. It’s especially important at the moment to check the reliability of any information you’re reading and avoid this type of potentially harmful misinformation, which could ultimately distract you from doing the things we know can help stop the infection spreading. The most accurate information will come from official sources – and, no, your aunt’s friend’s second cousin doesn’t count! At the end of the day, the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to follow the government’s advice: wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, practice social distancing, and stay at home. Stay safe everyone!

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Read some other blogs in our Myth Busting Series:

Wk1 Can you trust what you read online?
Wk2 Calories: Should you focus on quantity or quality?
Wk3 Should you be cutting carbs for weight loss?
Wk4 Should you be following a low fat diet?
Wk5 Protein: What sources are there?
Wk6 Whats the deal with Superfoods?
Wk7 Covid 19 – Can you boost your immune system with food? 
Wk8 Is Coconut Oil Good For You?

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