Can you boost your immune system to fight COVID-19?
The immune system is not “one thing” that we can easily measure. It’s an intricate and delicate system with many different components.
These are things that you can do today that don’t cost anything. Prioritise these basic steps for protecting and improving your health and potentially your immune system.
- Proper hand washing: the coronavirus is killed by proper hand washing for 20 seconds with soap or using hand sanitiser that is greater than 60% alcohol.
- Don’t smoke: Smokers have an increased risk of catching infections and suffering severe complications from those infections.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep is important for health in general, and as a bonus it may also benefit our immune function. Regular physical activity can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections and viruses. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity for three days a week. This can include walking, biking, yoga, swimming, or other low impact workouts.
- Stress management: When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.
- Getting sunshine and fresh air where possible: Your body can make Vitamin D on its own when your skin is exposed to sunlight, so try to get some sun whenever you can. How much sun depends on the time of year and your location. A good starting point is 15 minutes of exposure to a large body part (such as the torso or back).
- Vitamin D: is necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system which is your body’s first line of defense against infection and disease. This vitamin plays a critical role in promoting immune response.
Things to work on
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation:In times of stress, some people turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. While meditation, nature walks, and mindfulness exercises are likely healthier ways of coping, for some they aren’t enough, and alcohol adds a little something extra. There’s no judging. We all have to do what we can to get through tough times.
- The basics of nutrition: Portion control and consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and foods that are minimally processed and low in saturated fats. Refined carbs and sugars: Sugar may impair white blood cell function therefore, it would make sense that we want to limit these blood sugar elevations. Refined carbohydrates and simple sugars are two of the biggest offenders for blood sugar spikes and therefore should probably be avoided or limited.
The more actions we take to keep ourselves generally healthy, the better. The reason that this new coronavirus is spreading so rapidly and having such a significant impact on people around the world is that we lack immunity to it. Our immune systems have never seen it before. Even if you don’t become exposed, your overall health may benefit from the above.