Just when we thought that the cold and flu season was over, coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread around the globe.
COVID-19 is a terrible virus so we should do everything we can to ward it off and stay healthy during this difficult time. One of the most effective ways to fight the virus is to keep your immune system strong.
Many people take various multivitamin supplements to boost the immune system, but there are a few more lifestyle changes you need to make in order to keep viruses, including COVID-19, away from you.
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Reduce your stress level
Panic among the population is inevitable, but panic doesn’t help the situation. If you panic, you increase your stress levels, which weakens your immune system. (1)
People who are stressed on a daily basis have an increased risk of catching the cold virus as well as the COVID-19 virus.
It might be exceptionally hard to stay calm and keep happy during quarantine, but it can help to try and limit the time you spend watching the news and scrolling Facebook and Instagram feeds which are full of frightening content.
You can also listen to calming music, meditate, take short walks in the park, and cultivate positive thinking. This way, you’ll significantly reduce the likelihood of catching the virus by lowering your stress levels.
Get enough sleep
According to a scientific review, sleep deprivation may weaken immunity, increasing susceptibility to any type of virus and infection. (2)
Studies have shown that those who don’t get enough sleep, or who get poor quality sleep, have a very high chance of getting sick after virus exposure, including the common cold virus and coronavirus.
Moreover, not getting enough sleep might negatively affect your body’s ability to recover from illness.
No matter how busy you are right now, ensure you get to bed before midnight to strengthen your immune system.
Although many people joke about alcohol and its ability to kill bacteria and viruses, the reality is that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages weakens the immune system.
Therefore, if you drink significant amounts of alcohol, you have a higher risk of contracting cold, flu, or even coronavirus. Instead of drinking alcohol, try immune-boosting drinks like lemon water, herbal teas, smoothies, or juices. Your immune system will thank you.
Reconsider your eating habits
Your immune function weakens when your diet lacks essential nutrients. (3) There’s a link between immunity, infection, and nutrition. Poor nutrition can increase virus risk by decreasing immune function.
Different micronutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin E, and B vitamins, are vital for immunocompetence. Zinc, selenium, iron, and folic acid also help in keeping the immune system strong.
The Special Issue of Nutrients demonstrated the relationship between immune function and nutrients and diet and the ways the immune system interacts with nutrients. (4)
According to this scientific review, not getting enough micro- and macronutrients impairs immune function. (4) A well-balanced diet is needed for all body cells, including the cells in the immune system, to function properly.
If you’re trying to ward off winter colds, flu, and coronavirus, you will need to detox your pantry and fill it with healthy items. Be sure you always have these immune-boosting foods in stock:
- Kiwi is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and folate. Eating kiwi daily wards off infection by stimulating the production of white blood cells. The high vitamin C content of this fruit helps to fight viruses and chronic inflammation.
- Turmeric has also been proven to strengthen the immune system. (5)
- Citrus fruits like lemon, clementines, lime, tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit are overflowing with vitamin C that combats infections and improves the immune function.
- Ginger aids in alleviating inflammation. Lemon ginger tea is a popular immune-boosting drink that helps to fight viruses.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic and it contains compounds like alliin and allicin, which help the immune system fight viruses.
- Broccoli is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E.
- A cup of chopped red bell peppers provides your body with about 317% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
- Greek yogurt contains live and active cultures which strengthen your immune system, reducing your risk of catching a cold or flu.
- Spinach is plentiful in powerful antioxidants like beta carotene, which contribute to a stronger immune system.
- The combination of manganese, riboflavin and vitamins B6, C, and D found in avocado aids in enhancing the immune function.
- Sunflower seeds. Vitamin E in these tiny seeds is essential for improving the immune system.
- When it comes to fighting viruses, your body also needs healthy fats for optimal function.
Try to eat seasonal fruit and veggies to get more nutrients. Moreover, make sure you eat enough protein-rich foods. Limit your processed food consumption and stay hydrated.
Drink warm water
Researchers and doctors suggest drinking warm water to protect you from coronavirus. In fact, staying hydrated is important for your immune system, too. Add lemon or lime or ginger to your warm water and you’ll get a potent immune-boosting drink that will ward off all viruses. Herbal teas are healthy alternatives to warm water – if you don’t feel like drinking filtered water.
Some of the best immune-boosting herbal teas are chamomile tea, peppermint tea, lime flower tea, hibiscus tea, Echinacea tea, Rooibos tea, sage tea, lemon balm tea, rose hip tea, passionflower tea, calendula tea, and lemongrass mixed with chamomile and elderberry tea, among others. Herbal teas boast great health-promoting effects, including the ability to strengthen the immune system.
During the cold and flu season or quarantine, all gyms are usually closed or too risky to visit. The good news is you don’t have to go to the gym in order to work out. Even a 10 minute exercise in the morning will make your immune system stronger than ever.
Exercise makes the white blood cells and antibodies in your body to circulate more productively, helping them to detect viruses and bacteria more quickly. Plus, exercise helps to reduce stress that impairs your immune system.
A group of researchers from New Zealand revealed that probiotics lower the incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. (6)
This means, eating foods high in probiotics or taking probiotic supplements can significantly lower the risk of viruses, including COVID-19. Foods rich in probiotics are kefir, yogurt, pickles, kombucha, miso, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut, among others.
Nowadays, many people, especially women, take probiotic supplements. You should be careful with these supplements, though. Probiotic supplements might not be safe for you, so consult your doctor before you buy the one.
The final word
If you want to stay healthy as the world battles coronavirus, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, and parainfluenza viruses, you need to take care of your immune system on a daily basis.
Start paying more attention to what you put into your body, as well as striving to stay hydrated, get enough quality sleep, exercise more, and follow basic personal hygiene habits like washing hands and bathing daily. Let’s not forget that prevention is always better than treatment.