The Coronavirus is a global pandemic declared by the World Health Organization that continues to create havoc around the world. Although the crisis appears to be easing up after more than four months of lockdown, it doesn’t mean that we are completely safe just yet. The world is starting to lift some restrictions, but it’s ultimately our job as individuals to protect ourselves – not the government’s. Your friends, your family and your doctor have all suggested what measures you can take to prevent you from contracting the COVID-19 infection.
The infectious virus poses a real danger to our life, so it is important to keep our immune system as healthy as possible. With all of this going on, finding ways to stay healthy can be a tough job. It may be an ideal time to assess your family’s diet and establish new habits to support everyone’s overall health and well-being. A healthy routine makes a huge impact on your immunity.
A variety of the body’s “soldiers,” in the form of proteins, cells, and macrophages, protect us by battling harmful and foreign elements. This defense system also removes dead and sick cells within the body to fight infection and disease. The body’s immunity is supposed to get stronger with age, because we get exposed to more pathogens, which help us to develop more antibodies. Unfortunately, the way we live nowadays, may compromise our immunity to a great extent.
There are many ways we can boost our health and our body’s natural defense mechanisms. By introducing certain small changes in our lifestyle, we can promote quick & long-lasting health and ensure the overall quality of our life. Some tips for boosting immunity naturally are:
Exercise plays an important role in strengthening our body. It helps to protect us from the deadly virus, because exercise adds power to immunity and enhances the body’s first line of defense.
Exercising regularly helps build new capillaries- the small blood vessels that carry our blood to all parts of our body. The more capillaries we build, the more the muscle mass and the blood that flows inside it. The blood is ultimately the home of all the “soldiers” we talked about earlier. Since the coronavirus infects the inner lining of the lungs, exercising regularly regulates the breathing, boosting our respiratory health and reducing the chances of the virus getting into the lungs.
No, we are not encouraging you to go out every Friday night to the pub to party. Instead, we recommend you drink more water. Water is a magical liquid that is directly or indirectly in every fluid known to man. Whether it’s fruit juice or the fluids of the human body, H2O is everywhere.
In our body, there is a fluid known as lymph, which carries all the important infection-fighting cells or “soldiers” of our body, called lymphocytes. Scientifically, lymph is blood minus the RBC (red blood cells) and all of these proteins need water for their transportation. Being dehydrated slows down the movement of lymph, leading to an impaired immune system.
Even for someone who never exercises or sweats, you lose water constantly, through breathing, urine and fecal matter. So, keeping tabs on the amount of water you drink every day is important.
- Limit added sugars in your daily diet
We are not referring to the sugar that is present in fruits or flour, because those occur naturally. Rather, added sugars are those which are often included in processed foods. The main sources of added sugars in the American diet are beverages like Coke® and grain-based desserts like cakes and cookies. Added sugars are the root cause of obesity, diabetes, and nutritional deficiencies.
When we eat a lot of processed food with these sugars, we usually eat less of other foods that have important nutrients, ruining the balanced diet our bodies need to function properly. Reducing the number of carbonated drinks and sugary foods each day and replacing them with natural fruits and water is a good start to reducing deadly sugar intake and your immune system can now function at a higher level.
- Get a good night of sleep
The body heals and regenerates when we sleep. Sleep plays a critical role in determining how healthy an individual is. Sleep is the only time when the body produces cytokines, whose function is to either cure an infection or induce inflammation to prevent it from spreading. T cells, which regulate the immune response and interleukin 12, which is a special pro-inflammatory, are cytokines that the body distributes, while we sleep, according to a review published in Pflügers Archiv: European Journal of Physiology.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our immune system cannot produce all of these important substances, weakening our overall health and immunity. To ensure a good night’s rest, practice good sleep hygiene by turning off phones, laptops and the TV at least two to three hours before going to bed.
- Introduce supplements to your diet
Dietary supplements are designed to augment the required intake of nutrients. The COVID-19 crisis has everyone inclined to adding these, as they have been proven to benefit the overall well-being of the body. Many people believe that these supplements are only available in drugstores, which is a myth. Many of these natural supplements are sitting right there on your kitchen shelves.
They include garlic, known for fighting everything from the common cold to cancer to the seasonal flu; Ginseng, known for boosting immunity by lowering blood sugar levels; green tea, which burns fat and provides antioxidants to the body; Ginkgo, which reduces inflammation and fights anxiety; and fish oil, which lowers blood pressure, reducing the chances of stroke.
- Moderate alcohol and cigarette smoke intake
Alcohol interferes with bodily functions, creating disturbances for extended periods of time. When the brain is busy detoxifying our system, it is distracted from producing the hormones and proteins that are required to maintain our health. Cigarettes, like alcohol are lethal to the immune system as well. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and nicotine, which interfere with the growth and function of immune cells, like the cytokines we referred to earlier.
If you drink occasionally, limit the alcohol consumption to one drink per day for a woman, and two drinks per day for a man, as recommended by the National Institute of Health.
There are many natural ways of improving your health and immunity, no matter what your age. If you do follow the tips above, your immune system should start to function at a higher level.
Just remember what Mark Twain said – “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”
About the Author:
Back In Motion Fitness & Performance is a personal training studio and sports training facility that offers personal training, group training, fitness boot camps, and sports performance training to help you achieve all your health and fitness goals.