Woman holding yellow umbrella

Five myths about the immune system

30 Mar 2023


Exercise makes no difference to your immune system

Not true. Regular exercise and living an active lifestyle can help keep your immune system healthy. Exercise gives your cardiovascular system a boost, which will help white blood cells circulate and support normal function of your lymphatic system. While there’s no direct link between a workout and your immune system function, staying fit and active will help your immune system to help you. 

Everyone is born with the same healthy immune system

Unfortunately this isn’t true. If you have a healthy immune system, count yourself lucky (and look after it!). Some people are born with primary immunodeficiency disease. This affects the body’s ability to defend itself against infection from bacteria, parasites, and viruses. There are more than 100 known congenital immunodeficiency disorders, including alymphocytosis, XLA (X-linked agammaglobulinemia) and CVID (common variable immunodeficiency).

A healthy immune system can’t be damaged

Not true. If you are born with a healthy, normal immune system, episodes during your life can change it. In fact, acquired immune system disorders are more common that congenital ones. If an outside source (like an infection or a toxic chemical) attacks your body, it can cause lasting damage to your immune system. Diabetes and malnutrition are among the list of things which can change a person’s immune system throughout life. So don’t take a healthy immune system for granted- do everything you can to protect it, so it can continue to protect you.

Antibiotics help your immune system fight diseases

You’d think that antibiotics and your immune system are on the same team, right? While they both want to get you healthy, antibiotic use can actually weaken your immune system. Antibiotics don’t actually interact with the cells of the immune system, so they don’t directly affect it. But unnecessary antibiotic use stops your natural immune system from being challenged, causing it to slow down regulation and get weaker. The solution? Only take antibiotics when you absolutely have to, and take measures to build up your gut bacteria and immune system afterwards. 

Your immune system will stay the same throughout your life

This might surprise you, but your immune system ages just like you do. Your immune system gets older just like every cell and system in your body does. Your body’s ability to fight infection gets weaker and this double-whammy can leave older people more prone to illness. Keep your immune system healthy as you get older by getting enough exercise, managing daily stress, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Related Topics