The COVID-19 pandemic has made maintaining a healthy immune system more important than ever. A strong immune system is your body’s best defense against viruses and infections. With new COVID-19 variants continuing to emerge, taking steps to boost your immunity can help keep you healthy. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore research-backed ways to naturally strengthen your immune system during the COVID-19 era.
Chronic stress takes a toll on your immune system. Stress hormones like cortisol suppress the immune response and raise inflammation levels in your body. This makes you more vulnerable to viruses and infections. Finding healthy ways to manage stress should be a priority when trying to boost immunity.
Some effective stress reduction techniques include:
- Daily meditation
- Breathing exercises
- Going for nature walks
- Practicing yoga
- Getting a massage
Reducing stress by pressing pause on constant work demands and taking time for self-care can give your immune defenses a much needed boost.
Not getting enough sleep negatively affects your immune system. Sleep is essential for optimal immune function. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Too little sleep impacts the activity of immune cells and surveillance for threats by the immune system.
To improve your sleep habits:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine
- Avoid screens before bed
- Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark
- Limit caffeine intake late in the day
- Try natural sleep aids like magnesium or chamomile tea
Getting consistent, high-quality sleep strengthens your defenses against viruses like COVID-19. Make sleep a priority during the pandemic.
Eat Immunity Boosting Foods
What you eat has powerful effects on immune function. There are many foods proven to boost immunity:
|Food||Immune Boosting Benefits|
|Citrus fruits||High in vitamin C which supports immune cell activity|
|Broccoli||Contains vitamins A, C, and E which regulate immune responses|
|Garlic||Enhances function of immune cells due to allicin compound|
|Ginger||Anti-inflammatory properties stimulate the immune system|
|Yogurt||Probiotics promote immune system balance and health|
|Turmeric||Curcumin has antimicrobial effects to strengthen immunity|
|Almonds||High in vitamin E which stimulates immune responses|
|Spinach||Rich source of antioxidants to enhance immune defenses|
Incorporating these foods into a balanced diet is a smart way to keep your immune system functioning optimally during COVID-19.
Take Immune Boosting Supplements
Research shows certain supplements can provide immune enhancing benefits:
|Supplement||Dosage||Immune Boosting Effects|
|Vitamin C||500-1000 mg/day||Supports immune cell function and protects against pathogens|
|Vitamin D||2000-4000 IU/day||Enhances innate antiviral responses especially against respiratory viruses|
|Zinc||30-50 mg/day||Facilitates immune cell development and reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines|
|Elderberry||600-900 mg/day||Antiviral and immune boosting effects shown against influenza and coronaviruses|
Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially at high doses. But adding supplements like vitamin D and zinc may offer immune strengthening benefits during COVID-19.
Regular physical activity is important for immune health. Moderate exercise like brisk walking for 30-60 minutes daily has been shown to boost circulation of antibodies and fighter cells that detect illness. But be careful not to overtrain, as excessive, intense exercise can impair immune function.
Aim to incorporate 150 minutes per week of moderate activity like:
- Brisk walking
Keep your workouts moderate, particularly during COVID-19 infection peaks. Regular, moderate exercise gives your immune system a boost.
Smoking damages the upper airways and lungs where viruses like COVID-19 attack. Quitting smoking removes excess inflammation and improves immune defenses against respiratory infections.
- Smokers are more susceptible to viral infections
- Smokers experience more severe symptoms and complications
- Quitting smoking rapidly reduces inflammation in the lungs
Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation options. If you smoke, now is the perfect time to quit in order to strengthen immune defenses against COVID-19.
Drinking adequate water supports immunity. Dehydration reduces mucus production in the nasal passages and respiratory tract, making you more vulnerable to viruses entering the airways.
- Drink at least 64 oz (2 liters) of water per day
- Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks which can dehydrate
- Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables which boost hydration
- Aim to drink enough so your urine is light yellow in color
Proper hydration flushes out viruses, decreases inflammation, and optimizes immune cell activity to ward off COVID-19.
Strengthening your immune system should be a top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. Focus on reducing stress, optimizing sleep, eating immunity boosting foods, taking supplements like vitamin D and zinc, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and staying hydrated. Making lifestyle changes to support your body’s defenses can reduce your chances of infection and help you stay healthy during the coronavirus crisis. Paying attention to immune health is more important than ever in the era of COVID-19.