Give Your Immune System a Boost
There is a great deal of information and directives from leading health organizations about how to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. However, very little direction has been given about how to prepare for its arrival.
Now more than ever, getting and staying as healthy as possible should be everyones’ first line of defense. At the end of the day, building a foundation of health can only help. It’s about focusing on what you can do.
Please note that there is no cure or panacea to prevent or cure the onset of COVID-19, but laying the foundations for the healthiest body you can is the first line of defense in the event of any sickness.
Healthy living strategies that may help improve the immune system include:
- Move daily. Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. White bloods cells are disease fighters. The more the better. 1
- Consume a plant centered diet complete with adequate protein. Nutritional deficiencies weaken the immune system. Eat a well-balanced diet full of colorful vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get outside in the sunshine. Spending time outdoors boosts energy, increases Vitamin D intake, and reduces stress.
- Sleep 7-9 hours every night. The body heals when it sleeps. A rested body is better able to fight infection than a worn out one. Create a sleep routine and stick to it.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
- Reduce stress. Although lowering stress levels is a year-round initiative, practicing during the virus outbreak is particularly important. Stress directly impacts your immune system. Intentionally getting quiet during the day with mediation, exercising, prayer, controlled breathing techniques, or whatever else calms you is very helpful.
- Drink alcohol in moderation or abstain altogether.
- Frequently wash hands and maintain physical distance.
Chris D'Adamo, PhD, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, suggests vitamins, minerals, and nutritious foods offer immunity support. “There are several nutrients, plant-based botanicals, and supplements that can boost immune function and provide symptom relief during illness and may help to shorten the duration of illness.” 2
Below are suggestions, but please work in conjunction with a health practitioner to determine if immunity support supplements are right for you.
- Vitamin C may help prevent viral, bacterial, and other infections by shortening the duration of colds and acting as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
- Vitamin D is one of the most important immune system-strengthening nutrients that can reduce the risk of colds and flu; this should be taken on a regular basis.
- Vitamin A, when used on a short-term basis, can help support the body's ability to fight infections, especially with respiratory infections.
- Zinc can help reduce the number of infections and the duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.
- Selenium is a key nutrient for immune function and is easily obtained from foods like Brazil nuts. Selenium is also an antioxidant, which strengthens the body's defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells.
- Raw honey is good at relieving minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes, like in the nose and mouth, and has antioxidant properties and some microbial effects. It is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to tea or hot water with lemon. (Note: Children under 1 should not be given honey.)
- Garlic fresh, aged extract and garlic supplements, may reduce the severity of upper viral respiratory infections and function in preventing viral infections of the common cold.
- Probiotics contain "good bacteria" that both support gut health and influence the function and regulation of the immune system. They also can decrease the number of respiratory infections, especially in children.
During this uncertain time, it may feel like many areas of life are out of your control. Focus on what you can do now, and then put time and energy into those areas of your life.
Commit to healthy habits and life strategies that support greater health. Make nourishing food choices. A well-nourished body is a body with a strong immune system equipped to fight disease. And, maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing inflammation may enable you to recover more quickly should you contract the virus.
Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.