Coronavirus has been described as the most significant global crisis since World War II. Despite nearly one million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths, the statistics don’t paint the full picture of a near-total global shutdown. Americans have been mostly compliant with recommendations to practice social distancing, washing our hands, avoiding facial touching, and even staying home from school and work. Still, the fear of catching the virus has many of us feeling anxious and helpless.
Thankfully, we are not entirely without options. It should be noted that while boosting your immunity is certainly possible, there is no guarantee that any tips will make coronavirus any less dangerous or uncomfortable.
How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19
Before we dive into some methods you can use to boost your immune system, we should first state the obvious: preventing coronavirus is still the best option. Believe it or not, there are contingencies of people who believe that if they intentionally expose themselves to coronavirus, they will somehow come out ahead in the long run. Do not catch the coronavirus on purpose.
That being said, hundreds of thousands of Americans have coronavirus, with that number possibly reaching the millions before it is all said and done. Despite our best efforts, many of us will come down with coronavirus. The approach recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization is to:
- Take measures to prevent the spread of the disease and
- Prepare yourself in case you become infected
Immunity-Boosting Actions that Really Work
Now let’s move on to that second item: boosting our immune system to fight off a potential bout with coronavirus. One of the unfortunate realities of the digital age is the prevalence of bad health advice circulating on the internet. A recent report suggested that social media influencers give faulty nutrition and/or weight loss advice 90% of the time. When it comes to immunity, the results aren’t much better. With all of this in mind, here are some ways in which you can boost your immune system that are backed by science.
Basic Health Boosts Immunity
It might not be a sexy answer, but the best way to strengthen your immune system might be to simply live a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle includes getting plenty of sleep, avoiding tobacco products, avoiding/limiting alcohol intake, and more. Your immune system is a complex mechanism made of many cooperative parts. It is difficult to target any one part of the immune system to improve. Instead, practicing healthy habits overall allows your body to function at a higher level.
Boosting Immunity Through Diet
Another key way to improve your immune system is to eat a healthy diet. Instead of choosing foods based on calories (a common dietary trap), consider choosing more nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, fatty fish, mushrooms, legumes, and much more. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can potentially compromise your immune system. By opting for a well-balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods, you are giving yourself a great chance of staying strong. It should be noted that supplements such as herbal supplements, vitamins, and other products like Emergen-C have limited scientific evidence to back their efficacy when it comes to fighting infectious diseases like coronavirus.
De-Stress for a Healthier Immune System
If this article wasn’t stressful enough on its own, let’s take the next step and suggest reducing your stress to help fight against coronavirus. To understand how stress impacts your immune system, let’s discuss a few fast facts:
- Short-term stress and chronic stress are very different. Most scientific studies linking stress to lowered immune system function are talking about chronic stress. Chronic stress that occurs over a longer period of time can dramatically reduce immune health.
- “Stress” is subjective. Unlike health concerns like diabetes and blood pressure which are measurable, stress is difficult to define in concrete terms. An ex-Marine with a type-A personality likely has a higher threshold for daily stress than your teenage neighbor. Understanding yourself is important in understanding your level of healthy stress.
- It is possible to reduce stress in the short and long term. Techniques including exercise, mediation, spending time with pets, and psychotherapy have all been scientifically proven to reduce stress.
Boosting Immunity as we Age
As our bodies age, our natural abilities to fight infection decrease. This is a natural part of life. Unfortunately, coronavirus is no exception to this rule. Infection and mortality rates take a sharp uptick past the age of 50 and grow exponentially with each decade thereafter. This may be related to a drop in T cells, changes in bone marrow, or other effects of the aging process. For the most part, the same advice we listed above remains the best advice for all ages when it comes to preparing for coronavirus. If you have any specific concerns relating to your immune system and aging, speaking with a physician is always a great idea.
Women’s Health Conversations Educates, Empowers, and Entertains
Women’s Health Conversations is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the idea that women can have a positive impact on our nation’s health to benefit women all over the world. Through education and empowerment, we aim to transform the individual woman’s health and therefore the nation’s health. Women’s Health Conversations proudly offers events, podcasts, educational resources, blogs, and much more. Women impact over 80% of our nation’s health care decisions. We believe that educating women to make the best possible decisions benefits our national health, culture, and economy.