COVID-19 has taken center stage as countries across the world scramble to implement social restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus. According to Harvard scientist Marc Lipsitch, 40 to 70% of the global population could become infected with the coronavirus. Though the majority of infected people experience symptoms similar to the flu, studies show infections can be much more severe in the elderly and immunocompromised, as well as those with diabetes. Below are some practical ways to support your immune system and protect your health.
- Safeguard your lungs. The new coronavirus can cause pneumonia even in the young and healthy- and recent studies show that a number of recovered patients have persistent lung damage- so it’s crucial to protect your lungs. Stop smoking. If you have asthma, COPD or other lung ailments, find a licensed naturopathic doctor if you are interested in supplements, nutraceuticals and botanical medicine that support and tonify the respiratory system.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. Findings from 14 different studies suggest that alcohol consumption increases the risk of contracting pneumonia. Dose–response analysis found that for every 10 to 20 grams of alcohol intake per day, there was an 8% increase in the risk of getting pneumonia (community-acquired pneumonia, not hospital-acquired). One standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol, which is equivalent to one ordinary beer, a small glass of wine (100 mL) or a nip of spirits (30mL). Drinking alcohol can also weaken your immune system. “Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol could cause damage to immune cells in the lungs and upper respiratory system,” explains Dr Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor, “which in turn can increase the risk of developing diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome, not to mention making you more susceptible to viruses. Furthermore, alcohol can also affect the gut barrier allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood, and this, in turn, causes a depletion of the three most important kinds of cells in your immune system, Macrophages, T- and C- cells.” Stay hydrated by drinking water and healthier, non-alcoholic beverages instead.
- It’s normal to feel stressed, anxious and uncertain. Take time to relax. Try journaling, prayer, a meditation practice, deep- breathing exercises or stepping out into nature for a jog or a hike. Connect with a friend or loved one (preferably someone who won’t make you more anxious!) over Zoom or FaceTime. Click here for more ways to reduce anxiety naturally.
- Keep moving! Light exercise is a powerful stress reliever and immunity booster, helping the body sweat out any toxins. As many gyms and fitness centers have closed during the pandemic, try going outdoors (in open space) for your exercise. Or, follow a YouTube video to stay active.
- Consume a healthful diet. Eat more colourful vegetables and fruits such as dark greens, carrots, and berries, which contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants. Onions, garlic and turmeric (a spice) are also rich in antioxidants. Click here to find the top healthful foods. Ensure adequate protein intake. Consume more good fats. Avoid sugary foods/ drinks and processed foods.
- Ensure adequate sleep. Keep your room dark, ditch your digital devices and try to sleep at the same time every night. Click here for more tips on getting a good night’s rest.
Click here to read more on how you can boost your immune system. Remember, we are all human, we are all vulnerable to illness and we are all in this together. Please do your part in social distancing and practising good hygiene. Stay safe and healthy during these turbulent times.