Let me be blunt: No. Continuing to hide from whatever virus is in the news is not a good idea. Here’s why. Hormesis. The definition of hormesis by Wikipedia: Hormesis is any process in a cell or organism that exhibits a biphasic response to exposure to increasing amounts of a substance or condition. Within the hormetic zone, there is generally a favorable biological response to low exposures to toxins and other stressors. Translation: what does not kill us makes us stronger.
Look. The human immune system has one job. It works to keep us alive every single day. It seeks out antigens (whether it is viruses, bacteria, fungus, slivers, etc) as well as other threats and works to destroy them so that life will go on as usual. How does the immune system know what is dangerous? It is trained like a special ops unit every single day. Daily training keeps the immune system functioning optimally. Well, for the last 7 weeks we have been in lockdown and required to avoid being exposed to the virus. That is 7 weeks that the immune system was not getting exposure to things that would challenge it.
Let me give you an analogy. Let’s say you want to get stronger and build a better physique. You wouldn’t go to the gym and attempt to pick up the heaviest weight there as soon as you walk in the doors. You wouldn’t even do that after a week. That is the perfect way to injure yourself. The smart way is to set up a plan in which you would start lightly and build up from there. Perhaps weekly you would increase the weight you challenge your muscles and joints with so that in time your body is well able to handle the weight you had as a goal. Each day you worked out your muscles had microscopic tears to the muscle tissue which caused the tissues to repair and build newer, stronger muscle. Likewise, the immune system needs the same gradual build up. It began when we were babies and as we were exposed to illnesses our immune systems were challenged and trained to protect us better as we grew. These daily challenges to the immune system make our bodies more able to handle viruses, bacteria, and other threats.
The COVID-19 lockdown has not only wrecked our economy it has very likely weakened our immune systems. Future viruses and illnesses will have little resistance in population centers and will be able to thrive. Perpetuating the lockdown further will just worsen the future effect. Without challenges to the immune cells which make them strong and more able to protect our health we are more susceptible to infections taking over.
If you have been sheltering at home for weeks, don’t just expect your immune system to leap into action immediately. It is important to support your immune health first. See my post in an earlier blog (https://alimentarywellness.com/supporting-your-immune-system/) for ways to support your immune function. If you’ve been wearing a mask and gloves each time you venture out, be sure you reintroduce public exposure without the safeguards slowly. Once you’ve practiced these immune-supportive measures for at least a week, venture out into the world without a face mask or gloves (where permitted by local laws). Just don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly.
Challenges make us stronger. Certain stressors help us grow in the ability to thrive. Hormesis (outside stressors that challenge the body to improve) will help the immune system fight the viral threats to come, but you have got to allow your immune function some challenges to allow it to learn how to protect you better.