How To Improve Your Immunity to Fight COVID-19
Our bodies are constantly fighting against various diseases to protect us from harmful bacteria and viruses. This tedious, yet super important, the job falls onto the immune system. And we are responsible to keep our immune system healthy and strong. Nowadays, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is of utmost importance to stay healthy and unsusceptible to illnesses so that we can prevent catching the coronavirus. We can do so by focusing on some key aspects of our lives to boost up our immunity.
All the nutrients that we need we get from our food, especially fruits and vegetables. These help our immune system to function efficiently. We should avoid processed food and focus on plant-based foods and also ones that can naturally boost our immunity, like:
- Foods that contain zinc, iron, copper, folate, selenium, and vitamins A, B6, B12, and E. Each of these nutrients nourish our immune system and keep it running. Try foods like carrots, spinach, seeds and nuts, lean meat, eggs, quinoa, etc.
- Vitamin C is crucially important as deficiency of vitamin C may increase the chances of infection. We can get our dosage of vitamin C from kiwis, broccoli, oranges, red peppers, etc.
- Protein, which helps build and maintain immune cells, are critically important, like meat, fish, eggs, tofu, yogurt, etc.
- Garlic contains a compound called allicin which helps strengthen our immune system a lot.
- Foods that contain antioxidants prevent oxidative stress which can lead to a lowered immunity. Go for colorful fruits and vegetables, etc.
- Antiviral and antimicrobial properties of foods like asparagus, green bananas, cinnamon, cloves, etc. help fight off infection and can contain fiber.
- Extra supplements, like vitamin D pills, can lower your chances of getting an infection as well.
Changing your lifestyle to a more balanced, healthy one can positively affect your immune system too. Some of the major changes that can help are:
Stress can cause problems related to the immune system which makes it weaker and unable to fight off illnesses as effectively. This happens due to our body producing too much cortisol, which is useful for short-term situations where your body goes into “fight-or-flight”, but not for the long term. You have to protect yourself from stress by making small changes to your routine.
Meditation is one thing you can try for just five minutes a day; it will help lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. Other such activities can be the ones that you enjoy like drawing, swimming, journaling, etc. Another option is using essential oils - they have a calming effect, especially lavender.
Sleeping for at least 7 hours per night ensures good health. Sleep is when your body produces key immune cells and regenerates your health. So when you get less or disrupted sleep, your immune system does not function well. This will make you more susceptible to diseases. Cortisol produced in our body due to lack of sleep wears our immune system down.
You should try to maintain a schedule prioritizing your sleep and good sleep hygiene. It requires you to keep your electronics away 2-3 hours before bed. Essential oils can help you sleep too. For insomniacs, it is recommended to try a technique known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT-I).
If you exercise regularly, you have fewer chances of getting both acute illnesses, like viral and bacterial infections, and chronic ones, like cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Exercise boosts our immune system, making it alert. It also produces endorphins which help reduce stress. The more you exercise, the healthier you will be, especially in the long-term.
You can start small by taking out just 10 minutes a day for exercising. Focusing on cardio and strength is the best course. So exercises like walking, cycling, running, etc. should be done daily. It is recommended for adults to get at least 75 or 150 minutes of exercise every week, depending on the intensity of their workout.
Alcohol is obviously not great for your body. High amounts lower your immunity response by keeping your body busy in detoxification. Normal immune system functions are thus delayed. Excessive alcohol can also weaken your body as well as your immune system, leaving you prone to pneumonia, liver problems, acute respiratory distress syndrome, etc.
If you absolutely have to drink, try to cut it down to 1-2 glasses per day. There are also systems in place to help you quit, like counseling.
Smoking also produces toxins that suppress the immune systems, delaying the normal functions. It also releases chemicals, like carbon monoxide, cadmium, etc. that stop the growth of immune cells and messes up the existing ones. Smoking can also exacerbate conditions like infections, especially those of the lungs, and arthritis.
Avoid any secondhand smoke whenever possible, and if you smoke regularly, find a way to quit. There are many ways to do this - nicotine replacement products like gum or patches, counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, etc.
Diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart problems, etc. can increase your chances of falling sick. This is because when these chronic conditions spiral, your body is too busy trying to fight them to protect you from infections. With these conditions, your defenses are already on low guard so it is best to keep them in check and remain as healthy as you can. Take your medications on time and as recommended, visit your doctor, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Having a good attitude with a positive mindset is very important, especially in times like these. It helps you remain healthy, mentally, AND physically. Having positive thoughts can reduce stress and inflammation, and it can help you fight off infection for longer. On the other hand, negative thinking can make you more prone to things like the common cold. So stay strong!