Chowing Down, Getting a Boost

Chow Down to Boost Your Immune System?

Lies are convenient when the truth is unpleasant. Right now, we’re faced with a number of unpleasant truths, so lies are popping up like springtime flowers. The virus that’s plaguing us will “miraculously” disappear, says a politician. “Stock up on these nine healthy foods to boost your immune system,” says CNBC. Unfortunately, both of those are nothing more than expedient lies. Stocking up on healthy foods will not boost your immune system – unless you are seriously malnourished.

We strongly recommend paying attention to things that will actually make a difference and putting your mind at ease about all the other noise. Shut it out. It’s only there to exploit your fears. The people who are spinning it out are simply trying to sell a product or attract attention so they can sell advertising.

But What About Vitamin C?

“Yes, but” is the construction that hypesters use to open the door to this nonsense. For instance, Healthline says it quite clearly: “There’s no evidence that vitamin C supplements help prevent COVID-19.” Unfortunately, they go on to offer advice on how to take a supplement.

This is what we call a mixed – and thus misleading – message.

The fact is that there’s not even good evidence to say that vitamin C supplements prevent colds or anything else – unless you’re malnourished and not getting much. In that case, the answer is simple. Fix the malnourishment. Get to the root of the problem. Figure out how to improve your diet.

Healthy Eating, Not Magic Food

Dietitians of Canada recently offered up the truth about immune boosting hype:

Simply put, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet and no specific food, supplement or natural health product will prevent you from catching COVID-19. Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others.

Things I Can Control, Things I Can's

Illustration by @PsychologyAndLove via Instagram

There are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system and therefore we encourage eating a variety of healthy foods each day in order to support immune function.

The bottom line is that a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, protein foods and whole grains is important for a strong immune system as are other healthy lifestyle habits (e.g exercise, not smoking, adequate sleep, managing stress etc).

In other words, eat well, sleep well, stay active, and make peace with the fact that you’re doing all you can. Your immune system will do its job.

For perspective on why people believe liars, this article is well worth a read.

Chowing Down, Getting a Boost, photograph © Nathan Rupert / flickr

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April 4, 2020

2 Responses to “Chow Down to Boost Your Immune System?”

  1. April 04, 2020 at 7:46 am, Al Lewis said:

    That is one of the questions in our coronaquizzes — and the exact answer, too. Apparently the newscasters at CNBC haven’t played these quizzes, but you can.

    Totally free and we don’t collect cookies. Heck, I’m 64, I don’t even know what a cookie is.

  2. April 04, 2020 at 10:50 pm, Lori Sullivan said:

    As a long time healthcare practitioner: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist it’s refreshing to read your straight-forward and entertaining piece about “boosting” (NOT) immunity….and what bloggers, TV shows, celebrities, even Medical and Health Care professionals want you to believe as fact. So much hype, even way, way before Covid-19.
    Thank you for your pieces ….one of a few silver linings of this virus is getting some good tips on social media of sites like to get some sourced research.