Your immune system is always working to keep you healthy, and chances are good that you’re seeking ways to support your immunity. Unfortunately, there are a lot of immune system myths out there that can get in the way of your health goals. It is important to separate fact from fiction, and by learning the facts about immune system health, you can take the next steps to stay healthy year-round.

Myth 1: Exercising Can Weaken My Immune System

When you are under the weather, you want to rest your body, so that energy can be focused on recovery. While vigorous exercise can drain the body’s energy sources, developing a habit of moderate daily exercise is a reliable way to support the body's ability to fight off seasonal threats. 

White blood cells flourish when you work out, and regular exercise will help increase cell turnover in your body and support the production of these important immune cells. To promote overall health, keep your routine simple with walking, jogging, or swimming, and make sure to move your body every day. 

In addition to moderate exercise, certain nutrients can help promote your immune health. Chromium is an essential micronutrient that helps support immune cell activity to promote strong immune responses. Because the bacteria in your gut make up 70% of your immune system, it is also important to maintain a healthy gut microbiome for efficient immune activity. Mother and daughter jogging up some stairs in winter

Myth 2: Cold Weather Makes You Sick

Seasonal threats appear to be more common when the weather is cold, so it is a common misconception that the weather is the cause. While there is a link between cold weather and seasonal threats, this is not a causal relationship. The cold weather forces people to spend more time indoors, in closer proximity to others. 

The coldness of the air is not the direct cause. More time indoors means more frequent exposure to environmental threats. Daily zinc can help support healthy immune cell function and promote the body's natural healing rate. The powerful botanical African geranium can also help support healthy lung and respiratory performance

Myth 3: Allergies Are a Sign of Poor Immune Health

The opposite of this is true. Allergies are immune responses to rather harmless molecules like dust, pollen, and pet dander. The presence of an allergen triggers an immune response, despite being harmless. Allergies are not a sign of a poor immune health but rather immune system overactivity. 

You can help reduce typical respiratory symptoms with L-cysteine, which is known to support lung tissue function and normal mucous thickness, and vitamin D3, which supports respiratory functions.

Myth 4: “Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever”

This is one myth that has stood the test of time and has been circulated through generations. However, it is just a myth. Your body needs adequate fuel to sustain proper immune function. The activation of an immune response increases the body’s caloric demands, so you will need fuel to maintain optimal defenses. 

Nutrition rich foods

Your immune system needs energy from your diet to increase the body’s temperature as part of the defense against environmental threats. The presence of an environmental threat stimulates metabolic activity, and a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is the best way to ensure your body and immune system get the fuel and support it needs. 

In addition to a healthful diet, the additional support of certain nutrients can promote proper immune function. Vitamin C helps maintain epithelial health, which is the first line of defense. It also helps recycle vitamin E, which naturally diminishes with age but is essential for T-cell health.  

Myth 5: Hand Sanitizing Is More Effective Than Hand Washing

The alcohol in hand sanitizer neutralizes microbes to prevent them from transferring from your hands but is not as effective at removing them as hand washing. Using sanitizer is a practical and convenient way to clean your hands on the go but should never replace hand washing. However, when hand washing is not available, hand sanitizer is a good backup option. 

Handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of environmental threats. You can also support your immune system with naturally-sourced ingredients like elderberry berries, which protect against typical oxidative damage, L-lysine to support a healthy response to stress, and marshmallow root, which promotes immune cell activity. 

Final Thoughts

Knowledge is power, and when you can differentiate between fact and fiction, you have the power to promote strong immune system health. Your overall health depends on the defenses your immune system can provide. With a healthy routine and 1MD Nutritions's immune health supplements, BreatheMD™ and ImmunityMD®, you can take on environmental threats and immune health with confidence. 

Dr. Brian Greenberg

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Dr. Brian Greenberg is an immunologist, allergist, and pediatrician who received his medical degree from the University of Florida, and completed his residency and fellowship at UCLA. He has practiced medicine in Southern California for almost 25 years.