- Staying indoors does not weaken immunity.
- Our immune system will keep going even without a bombardment of viruses.
- Our immunity weakens as we get older.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its new variant, some regions are again in lockdown state. But does staying indoors weaken the immunity, as some people fear? Dr Sten Vermund, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, says it does not.
The hygiene hypothesis
The concern that limiting exposure eventually weakens the immune system comes from the hygiene hypothesis, which says individuals exposed to more germs in childhood are less at risk of developing allergies and other diseases than children who grow up in environments free from most germs.
But according to Dr. Vermund, four months of lockdown and a home-based lifestyle won’t have a significant effect on immunity, especially if you’ve been battling immune system invaders for decades.
But the same is also true with newborns and toddlers. Dr. Vermund explains that it’s just a small delay in the child’s natural exposure, which the child will make up for once exposed to germs.
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist in Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, also says the immune system will keep working without a virus’s bombardment.
Higher levels of body inflammation
According to an analysis of 30 studies, published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews in May, social isolation and loneliness increase inflammation levels in the body, leading to a host of illnesses, like a heart attack or stroke. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Mental illness may aggravate pre-existing conditions
Dr. Horovitz says stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness worsens whatever disease you have. Further, stress due to COVID-19 may raise broken heart syndrome risk, which has similar symptoms with a heart attack.
Tips to boost your immune system
Here are a few things you can do to boost your immune system and protect yourself from all sorts of illnesses, including COVID-19.
Get your vitamin D. Your body produces the immunity-booster vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which can’t happen when you’re in lockdown, says Dr. Horovitz. Take a supplement to make sure you get the recommended 600 International Units of vitamin D daily.
Get a good night’s rest. Aim to sleep for seven to eight hours every night, recommends Dr. Horovitz. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and make you more prone to colds and the flu.
Exercise regularly. Daily physical activity every day can keep your immune system strong, flushing bacteria out of your lungs and airways. Exercise also boosts endorphins or the brain chemicals that keep your spirits up.
Eat well. Eating fruits and vegetables and managing your weight will keep our body healthy and better able to prevent diseases.
Get the flu shot.
Wash your hands frequently and use a face covering.
Drink moderately. According to Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines, you should limit your alcohol intake to no more than two per day if you’re a woman, and no more than three per day if you’re a man.
Source: Reader’s Digest