Someone on my facebook posted a 10 foods to eat to boost your immune system post and now I have to have a little rant...
Ah Winter. The time that every immunologist spends in a constant state of cringing due to the over-abundance of “boost your immunity” crap they see everywhere.
It’s all a load of rubbish.
Why? you ask. Because that’s just not how the immune system works.
Not to mention, even if you could boost your immune system by eating 16 pomegranates a day or whatever other rubbish is out there, why the hell would you?
The immune system is a very complicated system that spends as much time trying to protect you as it does trying to stop itself from killing you. Every reaction is a series of checks and balances to make sure that in its noble pursuit to protect you from invading hordes of pathogens, it doesn’t accidentally kill you in the process.
Your immune system, when over-active or misdirected, can kill you faster than any pathogenic organism. e.g. anaphylaxis. It is a nasty nasty bitch. Your immune system doesn’t need your help! (unless you have a medically diagnosed immunodeficiency).
It’s the reason people who have organ transplants take immunosuppressive drugs. Because frequently suffering from infections wont do anywhere near as much damage as one round with your immune system when it encounters a transplant.
Your immune system is so good at doing its job already that when you actually ARE sick, you actively attempt to suppress it. That nasty little fever you’re trying to bring down; that’s your immune system doing it’s job.
If you want to lower your chances of of getting sick (not to be confused with ‘boosting your immune system’, wash your hands frequently. It will save you a lot of time and pomegranates.
Getting vaccinated is obviously also a great way to avoid getting sick. It is really the only good way to ‘boost’ your immunity to a specific pathogen.
And before anyone replies with: eating foods rich in vitamin C will boost your immune system! Just don’t. Yes, many immune cells (like many cells) require vitamin C. But unless you are deficient in vitamin C, which unless you are a pirate spending too much time on the high seas, is highly unlikely. There is NO evidence that an over-abundance of vitamin C does you any damn good. Also any kind of anti-vaccination replies will be met with hostility (or probably just ignored because there’s no point reasoning with unreasonable people now is there?).