The Coronavirus (also referred to as COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2) continues to grow in most parts of the world -- the World Health Organization has deemed it a pandemic -- and many large scale events, gatherings, and schools have closed in order to minimize the spread. Now many are wondering if there are ways to boost your immune system in hopes of avoiding getting sick.
The Doctors previously spoke to infectious disease expert Dr. Ravina Kullar who explained those with weak or compromised immune systems (usually the elderly and people with underlying medical issues) are usually the most at risk for COVID-19 and for it to be fatal.
The CDC notes the best way to prevent infection is to: wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not accessible, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, minimize or avoid exposure to sick people, stay home if you are sick, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then dispose of the tissue, frequently clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are often handled.
But are there ways to help out your immune system? The New York Times notes the body's immune system is complex and factors like genetics and lifestyle play a major factor in how effective it is. They report, "There is no magic pill or a specific food guaranteed to bolster your immune system and protect you from the new coronavirus," but there are real ways -- all of which should be simple for most to accomplish -- which may help your body's immune system work to the best of its abilities.
Reduce and Lower Stress Levels
Stress has been shown to increase someone's chances of getting sick and catching a cold, along with it causing wounds longer to heal in overly stressed individuals. The Doctors recommend enjoying this snack (made with Greek yogurt, sunflower seeds, and pistachios and strawberries), which is filled with probiotics, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin C, tryptophan, and antioxidants, all of which may help to reduce your stress levels.
Make Sure to Sleep Well and Enough
Not getting enough sleep (less than six hours a night) has been shown to increase someone's chances of getting sick (reportedly making them 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold). Some of The Doctors recommended sleep tips include: get on a schedule, have a bedtime ritual, exercise daily, have an ideal bedroom temperature, and to sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Does Vitamin D Help Prevent Respiratory Infections?
Some reported studies suggest vitamin D (found in fatty fish like salmon, milk, and a vitamin D supplement) may reduce the rates of developing respiratory infections, while other studies have found taking the vitamin had no effect. Vitamin D is reportedly linked to the production of antimicrobial proteins that can kill viruses and bacteria, per The NYT. If you are concerned about your vitamin levels, speak with your doctor and whether a supplement might be needed.
Do Not Drink Excessively
Stressful situations can easily cause one to drink, and possibly drink too much, but excessive drinking has been shown to make someone more susceptible to respiratory illness, recover from infections slower, and possibly impair the immune system. The current guidelines for drinking in moderation is 1 daily drink for women and 2 daily drinks for men, this recommendation includes wine and beer. As always, The Doctors stress moderation and responsible drinking, especially if have trouble sleeping.
Eat a Healthy and Well-balanced Diet
Eating healthy whole foods that are nutritious and not processed is great for your body and your overall health, but there are reportedly no specifics foods which have been proven to boost immunity. Enjoying foods that some believe helps the immune system won't harm you, but it is recommended to first focus on proper handwashing and not touching your face. A healthy drink that some say can help the immune system and The Doctors enjoy is one made with anti-inflammatory turmeric, clementines loaded with vitamin C and unsweetened coconut milk.
Stay informed on the latest information on the coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and learn about prevention methods and what to do if you are infected.
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