By now, a number of you have probably already bought a tub of nutrition supplements to boost your immunity. But could you have been misled with claims of “immunity”?
Since the first case confirmation of COVID-19 in Kenya, there has been a frenzy to boost our immunity with nutrition supplements, and a lot of my friends and family have bought supplements upon advice that they could ‘boost’ their immunity; implying protection against COVID-19. This is despite the fact our immunity is not solely dependent on our micronutrients.
Research shows that our immune system is fully developed and capable of fighting disease by the time we are adolescents. However, as adults, lifestyle-related factors affect our immune competence increasing the risk of infection.
14 Lifestyle factors that affect the immune system
- Lack of physical activity or excessive physical activity
- Age (very young infants and the elderly)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Vaccination history
- Sleep deprivation
- Easy access and consumption of high energy and poor micronutrient foods
- Exposure to an infectious agent
- Specific health conditions and diseases
- Early immunity programming.
Now, while it is true micronutrients (which supplements provide) are essential for immune functioning, strong immunity is dependent many factors. And the reality is, a lot of us don’t really know how vulnerable we are to disease. Either because we are exposed to unhealthy environments or we lead a very unhealthy lifestyle.
The 2015 Kenya STEPwise survey for non-communicable diseases report, showed that majority (95%) of Kenyans eat less than the recommended portion of fruits and vegetables (the protective foods), and exercise much less than is recommended. Further, a large proportion of Kenyans haven’t tested for high blood sugar, while others who have confirmed conditions are not taking or complying with medication.
Given, and as our CS Health has emphasized, for competent immunity, we need to observe a healy lifestyle which includes: getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, taking enough water, eating generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and also consuming more of whole foods than the processed foods. In addition, we need to limit our salt, sugar, fats and alcohol intake, and avoid smoking at all costs.
Worth noting is that with the developments made so far, no specific nutrition supplement or diet, has been shown to provide viral immunity specific to the COVID-19. But remember, while you may not contract COVID-19, you could still contract something else and end up in hospital which is a high risk area right now.
So control what you can. Get off the couch and start making these simple, yet practical healthy choices.
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