With the ongoing pandemic, everyone is worried about their health. As there is still no cure for COVID-19, boosting immunity is the only viable option to lower the risk of severe effects of this disease. It is a crucial time to keep our bodies defenses as healthy as possible.
Our immune system is like an army. It works as an intricate network of different units that fend off the invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances.
The immune system is a combination of different parts that act together to achieve their objective of keeping our bodies safe. We cannot boost our immune system as a whole, but we can strengthen it to function efficiently and keep us free of any disease.
Strengthen immunity to prevent COVID-19
No COVID vaccine, medication, or immunity booster are available. Still, we know that generally keeping the immune system healthy is a great way to reduce our chances of catching these viral diseases. If we get the disease, then a robust immune system might save us from experiencing the worst effects.
How to boost your immune system?
To boost the immune system, we first have to understand how our bodies’ defensive mechanism works. The immune system is a delicate balance of various microsystems that work in harmony to perform their functions. To achieve a healthy immune system, we need to work on maintaining the balance.
Various factors influence the functioning of the immune system, including diet, lifestyle, age, psychological stress exercise, etc.
Here are the lifestyle strategies you can adopt to improve your immune system:
- Regular exercise: spend at least 150 minutes, doing moderate exercise per week.
- Maintain a healthy weight: try to keep a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or lower. A healthy and balanced diet and exercise can help you reach this goal.
- Quit smoking: smoking is generally bad for your health, quitting it can show positive effects on your body.
- Reduce stress: develop proper coping mechanisms for activities that might induce stress. Go outside, talk with your friends and family, and do things that make you happy to reduce stress.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet: include fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eating healthy foods in the right amount is essential for strengthening the body.
- Reduce alcohol consumption: try to avoid drinking such intoxicating substances. But if you must, then limit the number of drinks and the amount you consume.
- Get quality sleep: make a routine for going to sleep and wake up, follow this schedule to improve the quality of sleep you get.
- Avoid getting infected: do basic things like washing your hands, practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding getting infected.
Immunity support supplements
Along with the lifestyle changes, you can also use the following supplements in moderation to keep the immune system in the best functioning form:
- Vitamin A: in short term use can help enhance the body’s ability to combat infections. It is especially helpful in fighting respiratory infections.
- Vitamin C: it prevents bacterial, viral, and other diseases by reducing the duration of colds. It also acts as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory substance.
- Vitamin D: is a vital immune system strengthening nutrients. It can lower the risk of flu and cold. It is helpful if you take it regularly.
- Selenium: this nutrient is present in foods like Brazil nuts. It is an antioxidant that helps strengthens the body’s defenses against viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells.
- Zinc: it can help reduce the duration of the common cold and lower the number of infections.
- Raw honey helps relieve inflammation of mucous membranes, like nose and mouth, and helps with minor pain. It has antioxidant properties and microbial effects. It can provide relief from sore throat and cough when you dring it by adding it to tea or hot water.
- Probiotics: it contains good bacteria that improve gut health and help the immune system to function correctly. These are also helpful in reducing the number of respiratory infections.
- Garlic: it helps reduce the severity of upper viral respiratory infections. It can also help prevent viral infections of the common cold.
Research on the topic shows, in addition to the supplements mentioned above, the following are also helpful in strengthening immunity:
- Mushrooms: various mushroom species have shown the ability to help the immune system function in multiple ways. You can use medical mushrooms like Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake.
- Sulforaphane: it has potent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Your body will produce a tiny amount of this substance if you eat Cruciferous vegetables.
- Beta-glucans: these stimulate activity against viral attack and reduce the cold and flu symptoms in the upper respiratory tract infections.
- Elderberry: these have virus-fighting ability. Consume a low sugar capsule or tablet to get the best results instead of sugary syrup.
- Berberine: it is present in rhizomes, stem bark, and roots of various plants. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help the immune system. Goldthread, goldenseal, and Oregon grape spices also contain berberine.
Though researchers claim that these substances help strengthen the immune system, the number of studies done is not sufficient enough to reach a satisfactory conclusion. There is a need for more research on this topic, so try to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating these supplements into your regular diet.
Immune system and age
As we age, our immune system’s capabilities start to decline, which increases the chances of infectious and viral diseases. With increasing life expectancy, the number of age-related conditions is also on the rise.
Though they might seem healthy, many studies concluded that older people are at a higher risk of catching infectious diseases. These diseases are more likely to be fatal for the elderly than the younger generation.
Infectious and viral diseases like COVID-19, influenza, etc. are especially dangerous for people over the age of 65.
The researchers have not found an exact reason why a specific group of people is more susceptible to these diseases. But they believe there is a correlation between the production of T cells and the strength of the immune system. Scientists also speculate that with increasing age, the bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that provide power to the immune system.
With the knowledge that the elderly are not as well equipped as younger people to fight infections and diseases, it becomes more crucial for them to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Immune system and diet
Our eating habits significantly contribute to our overall health. What we eat determines how our bodies will respond to various threats, like viruses and bacterial infections.
A healthy immune system needs proper nutrients and regular nourishment to do its work correctly. Scientists observe that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more susceptible to infectious and viral diseases.
Deficiencies of certain micronutrients like iron, zinc, copper, iron, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can impact the immune system. Though there is no conclusive evidence of how much of an impact these substances have on the immune system, it is best to maintain a diet that contains the required amount of all the necessary elements.
With the knowledge about the importance of a healthy diet, plan your eating habits to maximize the benefits. If you don’t like to eat certain foods that are a good source of these substances, such as vegetables, there are plenty of other ways to get your daily dose of nutrients. You can take vitamins and other supplements. But if you are not sure what will be best for your immunity, consult with a doctor.
Immune system and exercise
Regular exercise is a vital thing one can do to improve their physical and mental health. It helps improve lower blood pressure, cardiovascular health, body weight, and protects against various diseases.
The effects of exercise are like that of a healthy diet. We don’t know how much each of these contributes to the strengthening of the immune system. But there is a correlation between exercise and improvement in the body’s ability to fight viral and other infections.
Doing exercise improves the blood flow through the body, which might help the immune system’s substances and cells move faster and freely through the body and do their work efficiently.