If at the first sign of a cold you begin necking back orange juice like you’ve never had a drink in your life, or start chomping down supplements to try and banish it before it gets any worse – we’ve got some bad news.
Yup, it’s time to put down the Berocca and buckle up as it turns out we’ve been wasting our time trying to ‘boost’ our immune systems while ill.
Taking to Twitter, science journalist Erin Baba warned:
But what do the medical professionals say?
“An age-old belief is that you should eat oranges and other citrus fruits during the winter months, as the high concentration of Vitamin C is a natural way to bolster immunity. It all stems back to sailors contracting scurvy due to a lack of fruit and vegetables on long-distance voyages,” explains Jana Abelovska, Superintendent Pharmacist at Click Pharmacy.
She tells HuffPost UK that whilst Vitamin C was an effective treatment for scurvy, that doesn’t equate to it being a cure-all.
And when it comes to its cold-busting properties, unfortunately, science generally says otherwise.
“In reality, your cold or flu will likely progress in the same way regardless of your Vitamin C intake. However, one of the best ways to ensure that you’re able to fight off illnesses effectively is through a balanced and nutritious diet, and of course, the right levels of vitamins play a large role in that.”
But what about turmeric? Will that actually make our colds and bugs ease off?
“Another common myth is that Curcumin, the yellow component found in turmeric, is a great reliever of stomach upsets and other ailments but this is also unfortunately untrue,” says Abelovska.
“Whilst turmeric will not do you any harm, it does tend to become neutralised very quickly in the human body, due to its low bioavailability.”
If you want to feel the benefit of either, you’re better building them into your diet way before you get sick.
Vitamin C and turmeric do have immune boosting qualities but they’re purely preventative i.e. can help you get sick less, explains Dr. Avi Roy, CEO of uda.
It’s something Dr Caitlin Hall, Chief Dietitian and Head of Clinical Research at gut health startup myota agrees with.
She says: “Consuming at least 500mg of Vitamin C and as part of a balanced daily diet has numerous health benefits. It won’t stop you from ever catching a cold or flu – and it won’t ‘cure’ you when you do catch one – but it will help strengthen your immune system and make it less likely that you get seriously ill.”
The best thing your orange juice will do when you’re already sick? It’ll ease up symptoms by keeping you hydrated.
Oh – and it tastes delicious.