Everyone around you sick? How can you boost your immunity?
Dr. Mike Finkelstein, MD, an internist at Scarsdale Medical Group, helps us try to clear up some of the confusion on what really does and doesn’t help us boost our immunity. A lot of what you might think is bad is actually good, and what you might think is good may not be good enough.
What doesn’t work?
- An apple a day
“Apples contain a lot of water, vitamins and fiber, but for immunity, the fruit makes no difference.”
- Vitamin D
This vitamin boosts bone health and also may help ease muscle aches and pains and prevent headaches. “But it doesn’t do anything to strengthen immunity”.
“Honey is sugar,” says Dr. Finkelstein, “and sugar, in general, lowers your immunity.”
- Green Tea
“This doesn’t have as much power as people think, and green tea doesn’t have it over any other tea.” Instead of buying green tea, he suggests, “Just drink water.”
These healthy bacteria are all the rage these days, and are marketed as aids for digestion, weight loss, clear skin, as well as immunity. However, “the scientific evidence for that is inconclusive,” he says.
So…what might work?
This supplement has long been popular for preventing and treating colds. “Patients come in when they’re ill and tell me they took echinacea, and I say, ‘It didn’t work, and that’s why you’re seeing me today’” says Dr. Finkelstein. Although some research shows it can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of colds and upper respiratory infections, using it as a preventive aid hasn’t been shown to offer any benefit.
- Chicken Soup
“It’s the chicken’s fat and skin that has “magic” antiviral properties, so you have to use real chicken,” says Dr. Finkelstein. “You can’t use chicken bouillon cubes, and you can’t have vegan or vegetarian chicken soup.”
So…what does work?
“There are a lot of old wives’ tales that work,” says Dr. Finkelstein. They’ve lasted through the years for a reason, he explains.
Among the immunity boosters with solid evidence behind them:
- Vitamin C
- Plenty of sleep
- Time in the sunshine
- Not smoking
- A nutritious diet
- And of course…
- Wash your hands!
“All these things are important for overall health and for boosting the immune system,” says Dr. Finkelstein