Good sleep, not popping pills, aids immunity: Bengaluru doctors – Times of India
BENGALURU: Worries about a second wave of infections are driving up consumption of immunity boosters and pills, but doctors say a healthy diet and a good night’s sleep are the only effective methods against disease in general.
Experts involved in Covid-19 testing and treatment have repeatedly said that there is no scientific study which shows popular products improving immunity.
“Sleeping well is the only proven immunity booster. Anything else is sheer marketing,” said Dr V Ravi, former head of neurovirology at Nimhans. He recommends vitamins in the natural form. “Food supplements help build immunity. Vitamin D in the form of sunlight; B12 in meat, fish and eggs; and zinc in vegetables are good. Exercise and yoga also have a profound influence on psycho-neuro immunology. Rest, products claiming to boost immunity, is industry-driven marketing. I suggest having a healthy lifestyle, getting quality sleep,” Dr Ravi said. Doctors say properly wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and avoiding crowds (outdoors and indoors) are the most effective precautions against Covid-19.
Dr Carolin Elizabeth George, the head of community health and research division at Bangalore Baptist Hospital, told STOI that it was a human tendency to believe in magic. “But there is no magic pill for immunity. After popping immunity boosters, many develop a false sense of security that they are safe from Covid-19. There is no scientific proof to say that a certain medicine helps in boosting immunity in the context of Covid-19. People should be careful while using or advocating any drug labelled as an immunity booster,” Dr George said.
On the benefits of good rest, she explained that the body’s repair mechanism gets cracking when you sleep. “The cells in the body switch to minimum function, so they can recharge for the next round of action. Everyone needs that, apart from a balanced diet and daily exercise,” she added. While multivitamin tablets and B-complex drugs are useful in maintaining general health, they are not known to offer any special protection from Covid-19, according to Dr George.
Pulmonologist Dr Satyanarayana Mysore also said that immunity boosters were nothing but a myth. “Immunity is one of the most abused terms in the ongoing pandemic. Good immunity helps in slowing the virus in the initial stage. But a greater degree of immunity or erratic behaviour of the immune system can put people in trouble later,” he said.
Dr Mysore cited a study conducted during the 2009 outbreak of H1N1 virus in Mexico. “Young, gym-going athletes had greater mortality than older patients. The study said that younger people with good immunity had higher cytokine storms [excessive immune response] than the older population,” Dr Mysore added. The ideal duration of shuteye depends on age.