The novel coronavirus has been spreading quickly and, like other virus strains, it causes ailments ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndrome. The goal shared by billions of people across the globe is to limit the infections, and there is a lot you can do to protect yourself - by boosting your immunity.
The immune system
The immune system is the body's defense complex, protecting against disease. It is designed to detect a broad range of pathogens, such as viruses, distinguishing them from the body's healthy tissue. Once identified, the immune system works to neutralize these pathogens.
Building and sustaining a strong immune system is an ongoing endeavor; there is no silver bullet. Here are suggestions for boosting your immunity.
Foods rich in nutrients
It comes as no surprise that the same foods that will help you lose weight, feel healthy, and look great, are the ones that will help your body against toxic pathogens. In truth, there is no single food or diet that has been shown to cure or prevent disease, but malnutrition can impair your ability to fight off illness and infection. By malnutrition, we are referring to a lack of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients.
The best thing you can do to boost your immune system is to regularly consume large amounts of produce. Fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of phytochemicals that are extremely beneficial in disease prevention. They are also an excellent source of carotenoids that boost the activity of the white blood cells called lymphocytes. If you can't find fresh produce, opt for frozen, and even canned. In any case, make dark leafy greens a priority.
Food with zinc
Zinc is a mineral with anti-viral properties. A laboratory study demonstrated its ability to inhibit the replication of coronaviruses such as COVID-19 in cells. Furthermore, zinc can shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold.
The recommended daily intake of zinc is 11mg for men, and 8mg for women (12mg if pregnant).
Food sources of zinc include:
- Meat - beef, pork (30-40% of the daily value (DV)
- Chicken (20% DV)
- Shellfish - oysters (200% DV) , crab (60%), mussels and shrimp (10-15%)
- Eggs (5% per egg)
- Milk (9% per cup) and cheese
- Potatoes (9% for a large potato)
- Cashews (15% per 1-ounce serving)
- Seeds - hemp (30%), pumpkin, and sesame seeds
- Legumes (12% )
- Avocado (12% per medium avocado)
What about supplements?
When it comes to coronavirus (COVID-19) and other flu-like diseases, there is no proof that supplements actually work.
That being said, some supplement may have a limited benefit:
- Vitamin C
- Zinc lozenges (see above)
- Vitamin D
- Elderberry extract
- Garlic supplements
Vitamin C protects the immune system and helps to fight off infections. Zinc lozenges can reduce the severity and duration of colds caused by viruses. Vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of a respiratory infection from flu-like viruses in people who start out deficient.
Hydrate with water
Drinking water throughout the day may help boost your immunity. Staying hydrated helps the body eliminate toxins naturally through urination. It helps the cells take in nutrients and remove waste.
Regular exercise, even mild, has been shown to boost the immune system. You don't need to do much more than take a 30-minute walk. A study conducted on elderly people who regularly exercised found that they had immune systems comparable to people decades younger than them
Sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on the immune system. Our modern lifestyle has led to a decrease in quality sleep time, and it has been taking its toll on society. The exact mechanisms are an area of active investigation. If you can add just one extra hour of sleep a night, your body will be better prepared to handle whatever is thrown at it the next day.
Pro tip: leave your phone and tablet devices out of the bedroom.
Hygiene is critical
We are all familiar with standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection:
- regularly wash your hands. Do this with intention, spending at least 30 seconds fully lathering your digits and all the way up to your wrists.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.
- Clean off dirty surfaces.