If there was ever a time to boost your immune system, it’s now! Small changes in your daily life might go a long way when it comes to the functionality of your immune system. Remember, none of this advice should ever replace the knowledge of real medical professionals, but all of the tips below contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle, so really there isn’t a reason not to do it! Kicking a few bad habits and gaining a few good ones are always a good thing.
How to boost your immune system
Studies have shown that people who maintain a moderately active lifestyle get sick less often, and when they do, for shorter durations of time. This might also explain why younger individuals (that lead more active lives) seem to have stronger immune systems with virtually no effort. Researchers are sure that there is a causal link, but the why is still not fully understood. One theory is that physical activity can help flush pathogens out of the airways, reducing the chances of catching a virus. Another is that exercise causes a rise in temperature that is healthy in warding off pathogens. And finally, exercise reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol which are known to reduce immunity when released for long periods of time.
This seems obvious, but smoking greatly affects the immune and respiratory system. Also obvious - those two systems are pretty important when it comes to fighting COVID-19. Epidemiologists have cautioned that COVID-19 causes pneumonia in severe cases, which can affect a smoker’s lungs more seriously than that of a non-smoker. Health experts have said it’s unlikely that quitting could stop you from getting the disease, but it could reduce the risk of complications. Smoking not only damages sensitive lung tissue, the tar and toxins in it also destroy antibodies so you have less ability to fight off infections. If you’re a smoker that’s been thinking about quitting, now would be a really good time!
Eat Immune-Boosting Foods
The internet is full of jokes about hoax health foods that can ‘cure’ coronavirus. Let’s be clear - no food can do that. What it can do, however, is support your body’s natural defenses. Here are some easily available immune-boosting foods you could add to your meals.
- Garlic: Known to contain compounds that help the immune system fight viruses.
- Onion: Contains selenium, sulfur, zinc and vitamin C, as well as antioxidants.
- Turmeric: Contains curcumin, an antioxidant agent.
- Almonds: Rich sources of vitamin E, iron and protein, all essential for immune function.
- Spinach: Super-rich in vitamin C, numerous antioxidants and beta-carotene.
- Ginger: Powerful anti-oxidant agent.
Sugar is popularly known in the medical community as an immune system ‘buster’. This doesn’t mean you have to go completely sugar-free, but be mindful of how much you consume (including the sugar that is sneaked into many popular store-bought foods). Eating or drinking too much sugar blocks the function of immune cells that fight germs. This effect can last for hours after having a sugary drink. Sugar also increases inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Try some CBD
CBD or cannabidiol is a compound can support immune function for many of the same reasons that the aforementioned health foods do: it is a soothing antioxidant agent. The endocannabinoid system, which is the system that CBD works on, also a large concentration of receptors in immune tissue, signifying a link between the two systems.
Easier said than done when you’re scared about a pandemic, but the link between stress and reduced immune function is abundantly clear. It might help to take breaks from the news cycle, meditate, or just try and have a good time at home. A mindfulness app (there are tons of them around) could also help if you’re having trouble keeping your mind off the virus.
Get enough sleep
The well-rested are better able to fend off disease - and this seems to be true of most viruses. 7-9 hours of sleep are always important, but more so when you want to give your immune system a boost. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try a white noise machine or maybe a bedtime story (yes, really!) off of YouTube.
These are a few positive changes you can make in your life without putting too much effort in. And these changes just may make a noticeable difference.