Whether you’ve chosen to wear a mask or not during the pandemic, there are some immutable truths about how your immune system works that you need to know.
The human body is a highly evolved system that can be trained to fight most of the germs, viruses, and bugs that you encounter on a daily basis (yes, even in your own home).
But, does your immune system shut down when you stay indoors?
It’s become a big area of concern with stay-at-home laws in place as a result of the coronavirus.
In this episode of That’s Healthy, Right? we’ll discuss why we social distance, enforce good hygiene, and wear masks, the difference between the two parts of your immune system, and the general rules on how to keep your immune system running strong.
Have a question you want to be considered for the show? To submit a question, email a voice recording that you can do here to email@example.com.
The Fountain of Immunity: Can You Prevent COVID-19? – That’s Healthy, Right? Podcast
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public – World Health Organization
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) > How to Protect Yourself & Others – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Importance of Protein for Immune Health — Rebel Health
Sleep and Immune Function — European Journal of Physiology
The Science of Sickness Prevention – Born Fitness
Healthy resources to help keep you fit during COVID-19 — Born Fitness
Adam Bornstein: I promised myself that I had covered everything that needed to be covered about coronavirus, but I was wrong.
This has nothing to do with political beliefs, whether you want to wear a mask or not. This is about understanding how your immune system works so that whenever there is a virus or superbug or sickness present, you can feel more confident about how you can go about living your life.
Let me try and simplify this. Your immune system is not weakened by staying indoors. Let that sink in for a moment, because it’s very, very important to understanding everything they need to know about staying healthy and fighting off bugs.
The way that your immune system works on a global level, which I’ll talk about in a second, is there are a lot of things that you can do that will keep your immune system functioning well.
We’ve talked about this somewhat before on the podcast, but when you go outdoors and you come in contact with it’s a bug, germ, virus, your body just gets better at fighting that particular germ.
Think about the coronavirus itself, what makes it so dangerous is that it’s “novel.” You haven’t encountered yet, I haven’t encountered yet. Your body doesn’t have antibodies for it, so if you come in contact with it, you can’t really prevent it.
That’s why we did social distancing, it’s why washing your hands and avoiding touching your face was important, that’s why people are wearing your mask. You’re trying to limit the likelihood that the virus can infect you because once it does, it starts to become an uphill battle until your body can learn that disease.
As we mentioned before, there are two components to your immune system, the adaptive and the innate. It’s the adaptive that you’re worried about, this idea that you can’t adapt to just being outside, but that’s not how your body works.
Our bodies are actually incredibly well-designed and it’s why you don’t get sick every time you step outside, or even when you’re at home. Keep in mind, there are pathogens and microbials in your own home.
It’s not like you are staying in some sanitized environment within your home, this stuff is everywhere. But your body is so smart that it learns and remembers everything that it comes in contact with, and when it does, it will stay strong.
This is why the flu sometimes barely hits, because during any given season it might be an old strain that your body already knows and you’re not at risk. Your immune system will remember it and so if you come in contact with it, your body knows how to fight it off and defeat it.
But there are endless variations of cold viruses, these are known as rhinoviruses, and so many forms of the flu that you really can’t teach your body how to fight them all until you actually fight them.
The bottom line, if you stay inside your immune system actually remains unchanged. It is not weakened, you’re just not building up immunity to any particular pathogens that you need to fight, but all of the pathogens that you have already learned, you will remember.
There is no direct benefit to going out and learning new pathogens just for the sake of learning them. When you encounter them, you will learn how to fight them and your body will hopefully build the resistance so you can defeat them. When you don’t, your immune system doesn’t forget, it just stays in neutral.
If you want to keep your immune system strong and maintain the integrity of how your immune system functions, the general rules are pretty simple. Prioritize your sleep, eat protein, don’t smoke, try to stress less, and exercise or move.
That’s it. These are the basic things that will protect your immune function so that when you come in contact with anything, you have a higher likelihood of fighting it off.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.