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Challenges quick fix solutions to improve the immune system

After 150 media interviews about the immune system this past year, Anne Spurkland is publishing a new book on how food, sleep and vaccines affect the immune system. She is also awarded the University of Oslo’s Dissemination Prize.

The picture shows a woman in a white lab coat who is holding lab equipment

Professor Anne Spurkland is awarded the University of Oslo's Dissemination Prize, and has also published a new book. Photo: UiO

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a lot of interest in how the immune system works. Anne Spurkland has been on the news every week to explain the complexities of immunity in an educational, engaging and clear way. This is one of the reasons she has now been awarded the Dissemination Prize by the University of Oslo for her science communication.

– I’m happy my efforts are recognized. I’ve made it a deliberate strategy to engage in research dissemination, and this prize shows that I have succeeded in my project, she says.

Her engagement does not stop there. In her new book "Frisk nok! Håndbok i immunforsvar" ("Healthy Enough! Handbook in Immune Defense"), she challenges claims that certain measures, such as an anti-inflammatory diet, will boost the immune system and result in less inflammation in the body. 

– These books paint a picture that we are all making a mistake, and are eating foods that cause inflammation. This is not the case, says Spurkland, who is a professor at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences (IMB).

No consensus on what "anti-inflammatory" food is

Regarding the debate on how food affects the immune system, she says that the problem is that there is no consensus on what would work as "anti-inflammatory" when it comes to certain foods. 

– Also, it is a misconception that we all suffer from inflammations that lead to poor health. We should not turn food into an arena for what is "right" and what is "wrong" when it comes to the immune system. The Norwegian nutrition recommendations is sufficient for the vast majority of us, Spurkland explains.

Get enough sleep and avoid stress

The book also deals with how sleep and circadian rhythms, food, stress and vaccines affect the immune system. 

– The best advice we can offer to people is to get enough sleep every night, eat a variety of food, a little bit of everything but not too much, try to avoid stress, be physically active and say yes to all the vaccines you are offered, she sums up.


By Cecilie Bakken Høstmark
Published May 18, 2021 10:29 AM - Last modified May 18, 2021 10:29 AM