Strengthening Your Immune System in the Wake of COVID- 19
In the wake of the COVID-19, the world is in a panic, the stock market is crumbling, and people are afraid to leave their homes. Those at higher risk include those over the age of 70 and with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, disease of the heart, lung or kidney and those with weakened immune systems. Fears of the virus are well-founded when it comes to these high-risk groups, and efforts should be focused on “keeping this virus away from nursing homes, long-term-care facilities and elderly people whose lungs can’t recover from this,” said Dr. Jeremy Faust, emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Another step we can all take is to strengthen our immune systems and the immune systems of our clients. Here are CETI tips based on proven science for building the strongest possible immune systems.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips to Boost Immunity
According to Harvard Medical School, the best defense is a healthy lifestyle. Every single part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when you protect it from oxidative stress incorporate healthy-living strategies such as these:
- Don’t smoke – according to the CDC, smoking harms the immune system and can make the body less successful at fighting disease. Smoking can directly compromise your immune system and increase the risk of several immune and autoimmune diseases. New evidence has linked smoking to Rheumatoid Arthritis (the immune system attacks the joints and causes swelling and pain). Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. Many of them can interfere with the immune system. Diseases that can be worsened by smoking include: viral and bacterial infections, especially of the lungs (for example, pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis); periodontal or gum disease; bacterial meningitis (a disease that attacks the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord); infections that occur after surgery; rheumatoid arthritis; Crohn’s disease (a serious disease of the digestive system); and cancer.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables – fruits & vegetables with vitamin c can help to boost the immune system and produce more white blood cells (both help to fight infection). Who knew, red bell peppers have twice the vitamin c as most citrus fruits. Broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, antioxidants, and fiber. Due to a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, garlic has amazing immune-boosting properties, can lower blood pressure, and can slow hardening of the arteries. Ginger can help to decrease inflammation, decrease pain and may help to reduce cholesterol. Spinach is rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants and bet a carotene. Yogurt with live and active cultures can stimulate your immune system because it’s a great source of vitamin D which helps to boost our body’s natural defense against disease. 46-shelled almonds provide 100% of your vitamin E requirements each day. Vitamin D, along with vitamin C, is a key to a healthy immune system. Turmeric is used as an anti-inflammatory and has been used to treat osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea is packed with flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) and L-theanine. L-theanine may assist in the production of germ-fighting properties in T-cells. Papaya is loaded in vitamin C and provides a good amount of potassium, B vitamins, and folate. Kiwi provides a nice supply of vitamin C, folate, and potassium, but subs-oy vitamin K for Papaya’s vitamin B.
- Exercise regularly – obviously this is a general statement and exercise needs to be tailored to an individual’s needs. Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness. The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. These antibodies and white blood cells circulate more rapidly, so they can detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways.
- Maintain a healthy body weight – an increased percentage of body fat increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, joint pain and degeneration that can lead to arthritis and injury, stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol, fatty liver, and depression.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation – excess alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, an increase in body fat (see last bullet point), and certain types of cancer. Alcohol affects the way health gut microbes interact with the immune system. Alcohol also disrupts the gut barrier, allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood. … Excessive drinking reduces the number and function of three important kinds of cells in your immune system–macrophages, T and C cells.
- Get adequate sleep – without adequate sleep, the body makes fewer cytokines(a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation) effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep. According to sleepfoundation.org, taking two naps that are no longer than 30 minutes each —one in the morning and one in the afternoon—has been shown to help decrease stress and offset the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on the immune system.
- Take steps to prevent infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly – keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps to take in order to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands and helps prevent infections when people touch their eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Try to minimize stress – when we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections during stressful times. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).