COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is spreading at breakneck speed across the globe, and people are terrified. Currently, there is no vaccine and no cure (although treatment helps, and in most cases the disease resolves itself within two weeks). The thing that’s scariest about this virus is the term “novel”- this means that it’s completely new, and has never been seen before in humans, so our immune systems cannot adequately fight it off (like we usually can against a cold or sore throat).
While the best ways to prevent getting COVID-19 are handwashing, avoiding sick people, and social distancing, if you contract the virus, there are a number of ways to make sure your immune system is in top shape to help fight it off. Here are our top ways, below:
Manage Your Blood Sugars
Excellent blood sugar management makes people living with diabetes more likely to effectively combat infections of all kinds. “For all my diabetes friends, please invest time to focus on taking the best care you can with your blood sugars. It is the best defense against a COVID-19 infection, without a doubt,” says Dr. Stephen Ponder, the author of Sugar Surfing.
Persistently high blood sugars make us more susceptible to uncontrollable infection, which can lead to severe complications if one contracts COVID-19. Stay extra vigilant by testing frequently, counting carbohydrates, maintaining some semblance of an exercise routine (which can be hard when gyms across the nation are closing to help prevent the spread of the virus), and try to manage stress.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the body’s way to replenish and recharge all the cells in your body (especially brain cells). When one sleeps, the body naturally heals itself. While recommendations vary, most adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This will be crucial to heal the body from normal wear and tear, and to help build up one’s immunity should you come into contact with COVID-19, or even a cold or the seasonal flu.
If you’re a smoker, now is an excellent time to quit. The COVID-19 virus is respiratory, meaning it affects the lungs, and in severe cases causes pneumonia that can be fatal. People most susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 include older adults (over 60), smokers, and people with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and COPD. Smoking is bad for so many reasons, and tanks your immune response, makes you more susceptible to infections, damages your lungs, and increases your risks for severe complications from COVID-19. Check out these resources to help you quit.
Eat the Rainbow
It’s true what your mom said: eat your fruits and vegetables! Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fiber that is extremely beneficial to one’s health. Citrus fruits have shown to be particularly beneficial in boosting immunity: grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes, kiwi, tangerines, clementines. Fun fact: ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain about twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. If in doubt, the more colorful your plate, the better. Getting to the grocery store may be hard right now, but services like Instant Care and Amazon Fresh can deliver fresh produce right to your door, making healthy eating a little easier during this time.
Exercise has been proven to boost immunity, and even a little can go a long way. Exercise mobilizes T cells, which are a type of white blood cell that guards against infection. Just make sure not to overdo it (extreme, continuous exercise actually wears the body down and can make you more susceptible to illness). The CDC recommends that most adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week like running. And you can break that up into smaller chunks of time, and get creative: running up and down the stairs, gardening, vacuuming, jumping rope, mopping the floors, and walking your dog all count! Currently, only 22.9% of U.S. adults ages 18-64 met the CDC exercise guidelines between 2010-2015.
What strategies do you use to boost your immune system? Share this post and comment below! We love to hear your ideas!
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