There appeared in my email a most fascinating study, written by a nurse about whether social distancing is weakening out immune systems. I have long believed this this to be is true and Personal Driver and myself have spoken about the phenomena on many occasions. I wonderful it is to have our thinking confirmed. I copy in its entirety, can be found on a site called Healthgrades.
“You may have heard someone express concern that all this social distancing we’re doing to stop the spread of COVID-19 is actually weakening our immune systems. People may feel rightfully confused about this because, after all, the immune system is complex. The effects of social distancing on the immune system haven’t been deeply studied, so researchers can’t say positively how social isolation is affecting our body’s ability to respond to infection. However, much is known about the immune system itself and how it works. Get the facts behind claims that social distancing is lowering immunity, what’s known to affect immunity, and steps you can take to bolster your immune system, One thing about faltering immunity you can rule out right away is a concept known as the “hygiene hypothesis.” This refers to the idea that a lack of early exposure to germs in the environment can impair the development of an infant’s immune system. If this is true, might social distancing guidelines be exerting the same effect on our adult immune systems? Unlikely. First, although data seem to support the idea that children who grow up in very “clean” regions (for example, developed countries with sophisticated sewage systems) seem to have higher rates of allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disorders than children who grow up in “less hygienic” environments, not all researchers agree that hygiene alone accounts for this correlation. Second, the hygiene hypothesis only applies to infants and children. The social distancing brought on by COVID-19 would not have this sort of effect on adults, because their immune systems are already fully developed.
To understand why reducing your exposure to germs will not harm your immune system, It is helpful to know how the immune system works. Whenever your body encounters a germ (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.), your immune system identifies the germ as foreign and manufactures cells and proteins (“antibodies”) to counteract, or neutralize it. Your immune system remembers that germ; if it ever appears again, your body can quickly manufacture the appropriate antibodies again. (The immune system has many other protective effects as well, including targeting cancer cells for destruction.)
Reducing your exposure to germs cannot alter this process. Your immune system will not suddenly “forget” what a particular germ looks like just because you aren’t exposing yourself to it regularly.
So, you can rest assured that reducing your contact with germs in the environment due to social distancing (and wearing a mask) is not preventing your immune system from functioning. It is, however, reducing your risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), which is a good thing. That’s how we stop it from spreading and infecting (and harming) more people. The stress of isolation can reduce your immune response, Germs aren’t the only thing that affects your immune system. Stress can exert a negative effect on your immune system’s ability to function optimally. Mental stress causes your internal inflammation levels to rise as your body releases various hormones to cope. Inflammation, in turn, impairs the immune system’s ability to mount a defence against any germs it encounters. Knowing this, you may be able to picture how social distancing guidelines can cause a cascade of effects that weaken the immune system. Social distancing can lead to feeling isolated and stressed, which causes inflammation. Anxiety and feelings of depression can also cause an elevated state of inflammation. The pandemic is also causing a sense of loss, or grief, which increases stress and inflammation levels. Thus, the main social distancing effects on the body might well be an overall weakening of the immune system due to stress—part of the pandemic’s collateral damage.Fortunately, you can take steps to strengthen your immune system while social distancing. 1) Try: Eating a diet filled with antioxidant foods (fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains), because these foods help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which in turn supports immune health.2) Exercising regularly, especially outdoors, because regular physical activity is proven to lower stress and boost mood.3) Getting plenty of high-quality sleep, as sleep provides the body and mind with a period of restoration and relaxation .4) Meditating, praying, or engaging in another activity or ritual that allows you to reflect, breathe, and mentally release stressors. 5) Socializing as much as possible in socially distanced ways, such as through video chatting and phone calls.6)Supplementing with vitamin D if you’re deficient, since vitamin D plays a role in immune system function. (A blood test can tell if you are low in vitamin D.) Researchers have only begun to examine possible links between social distancing and immunity. You can be sure that reducing your exposure to environmental germs will not weaken your immune system—but will help you avoid contracting COVID-19 (and other germs). And, if you engage in activities to boost and strengthen your immune system, you should weather this period of social distancing with robust immunity intact.
I would add that laughter and good humour also boosts one immune system . It is my personal belief that writing a blog also boosts one’s immune system as it allows me to “breathe, reflect and mentally release stressor” So, except for the exercising outdoors I am doing everything needed to be done to boost my immune system.
I am sure that faithful readers are on pins and needles waiting to the results of my appointment with the neurologist and Wise Man I It shall not be complicated to avoid further TIAs and a possible stroke. Take baby aspirins and walk to improve my circulation. More about that later., walking in this neighbourhood a drag due to hills and dogs. I have dog phobia . The plan is to take my stick (British for cane) and menacingly point it at the animal. Both doctors did agree that dogs are carriers of the coronavirus, an unpopular viewpoint (actually fact) in these parts. But yesterday was incredibly stressful , not knowing if there was going to be bad news. My anxiety level so high that I was nauseous. It was very tiring – came back home and went to bed.
I asked Blog Master Chris for my statistics according to country. It is rather mind boggling. They will be reported in tomorrow’s blog. That and a study of the second multibillionaire I met in a hotel. Stay tuned,