Starve yourself, drink plenty of red wine, take statins, and listen to music, and you’ll never have a cold ever again!

A couple of weeks ago The Telegraph reported that: “Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds“. This sounds a bit like hard work to me, I have to say. I like food. Maybe you agree, if so we are in luck. Because, also according to the Telegraph: “Daily glass of wine boosts the immune system“. I have to say that that sounds a lot more like it to me. But what if you don’t like wine? Well, you are still in luck, because you can try taking statins: “Statins ‘could boost immune system’“. Don’t like drugs? No problem: “Music can boost your immune system“.

To be fair to The Telegraph, in the article on fasting, for example, they do quote some scientists sounding a bit sceptical about the claims. However, the above list is not exhaustive. The Telegraph is going through various diets/beverages/pills, claiming they all boost your immune system.

Now, judging from the news items above you might be tempted to supercharge your immune system by giving up food and living entirely off red wine* and statins, while listening to One Direction on a loop. Although I am not a medical doctor, and so not qualified here, I suspect this would be a bad idea.

One thing to think about is as follows. Unless you are fasting every day you will stuff your face with an enormous range of molecules. Food (including even Pot Noodles) is just dead living organisms, and living organisms are run by an enormously complex range of molecules, which you eat when you chow down on beef, lentils, yogurt, bread, Pot Noodles, etc. Tens of thousands of different types of proteins, all sorts of molecules made from sugar molecules, fats, molecules like chlorophyll, etc.

It would be remarkable if none of these many thousands of molecules had any effect on your immune system, even if eaten in large amounts. The odds are good that red wine contains such a molecule. The odds are also good that so does a pork pie, beer, celery, ….

So stories like this are going to keep on coming. While they do you may want to think that if you switch from beer to red wine, nobody knows what immune boosting molecules you are cutting out from your diet.

* Virginis Hughes at her blog Only Human has some thoughtful things to say about all this media stuff on red wine being good for you, see here.

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