Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic & Boost your Immune System
According to a survey by FMCG guru 72% of the participants were concerned about their immunity levels. According to another survey by Mintel 29% of the people interested in foods that can help support their immunity. With an increase in demand for immunity boosting products, brands were offering several products and many products rebranded.
Horlicks for instance in their new ad campaign claimed that it is necessary to have nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc to build a strong immunity and one can find all of it in their “health drink – Horlicks”.
ITC launched an immunity song for their milk brand. There were also several other products available in supermarkets like immunity boosting bread, immunity ladoos, immunity halwas and many more supplements.
However do these immunity boosters and products actually help boost our immunity?
The reality is that these immunity boosters don’t make a difference and most of the claims promises of immunity made by the “immune-boosting supplements” are false. The only immunity that these products had was for themselves to be immune to the global shutdown due to the pandemic.
According to a report by Techsci Research the immunity boosting packaged goods market is projected to reach $347 million by FY 2026. Michael Starnbach, a professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School, “Unfortunately, the reality is that those kinds of products aren’t really offering you any benefit. There’s no evidence that they help in fighting disease.”
This immunity craze led to people buying supplements and immunity boosting products and many also stuck to their home remedies. Supplements became very common especially Zinc and Vitamin C tablets. The sale of multivitamin supplements in India surpassed the sale of diabetes medication in 2020.
Zincovit (Multivitamin) recorded sales of 50 crores in October 2020 while Insulin recorded sales of 48 crores in the same time period. People were somehow convinced that zinc can help them fight the coronavirus.
The truth is that Zinc is in no shape or form proven to build some kind of immunity that can prevent or repel the coronavirus. It is however proven to reduce the duration and not the severity of common cold.
But on the other hand it is important to understand that too much of zinc is fatal and can prove to be harmful in the long run causing Anemia and damage to our nervous system.
Vitamin C is also not proven to be effective against Covid19 and according to WHO consuming Vitamin C supplements does not help build an immunity or act as a cure for Covid. There are immunity boosting kits being sold by Dabur. Patanjali also sells their Coronil kit as an immunity boosting kit.
Our Immune system cannot be boosted Instantly
It is necessary to understand that these supplements do help boost immunity but only for people who really need it. According to a report by Harvard medical school “There is some truth to the idea that vitamins can help immunity.
Vitamins can help ward off disease and other health problems, but only in people who are severely malnourished, something that’s not true of the average American adult, says Starnbach. So, vitamin formulations will do little to help you stay healthy if you are healthy already.”
Our immune system also has two parts: Innate Immune system and Adaptive Immune system. Innate Immunity depends on our genes and are first in line of defense. Adaptive Immunity on the other hand involves cells and antibodies and their function cannot be regulated or improved by foods.
Additionally, according to Dr Suzanne Cassel, an immunologist at Cedars-Sinai says that instead of wanting a strong Immune system it is more necessary to keep our Immune system balanced.
“Too much of an immune response is just as bad as too little response and most of the things people take to boost their immune systems, such as vitamins or supplements, don’t have any effect on their immune response.”
If you can’t boost your immune system, What can you possibly do?
Firstly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle starting with a well balanced diet. This means that the food you will eat will contain all the essential nutrients like zinc, Vitamin C at necessary levels to keep the body healthy.
Choosing natural foods over supplements is a better idea rather than falling into the trap of false advertisements and marketing gimmicks of different products. Exercising and getting enough sleep also contributes towards a healthy lifestyle and influences our immune response.
Supplements may be needed for some individuals which must be prescribed by a doctor. Thus we must remember, not to self medicate anymore.