When the shock waves of the COVID-19 pandemic started rippling across global headlines in late February and early March, the first question on everyone’s mind was: How do I make sure I don’t get infected? Apart from following the safety guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization, many have also focused on increasing their body immunity using natural ingredients and alternative medicine.
Here’s why we should all focus on increasing body immunity
It would be irresponsible to say that by increasing your immunity, you can avoid getting infected by COVID-19. The virus does not discriminate between those who have been drinking lemon water or popping vitamin pills and those who have done nothing.
However if you take certain steps to fortify your immunity, you are strengthening your body’s defence mechanisms against infections. You’ll be less likely to fall ill and if you do, you will have milder symptoms. In the case of COVID-19, the more serious symptoms include breathlessness, chest pain, and loss of speech or movement. Having a milder version of these symptoms could be the difference between life and death.
How to improve body immunity
There are four pillars to help you improve your immunity: lifestyle factors, exercise, diet, and stress relief.
Make healthier lifestyle choices
Your immune system can either focus on detoxing your body or fighting the invading infections. Habits like smoking, overeating, or excessive drinking divert your body’s immune response towards cleaning out your system. By quitting bad habits and adding adequate balance to your life, you allow your body to build the strength it will require when you fall ill.
According to this FAQ section by World Health Organization, smoking is one of the lifestyle factors that puts you at risk for elevated symptoms if you contract COVID-19. Smoking impacts the ability of the lungs and COVID strikes the respiratory system. Weakened lungs may not be able to fight off the virus. The best way to avoid this is to quit smoking today.
Sleep is also important to your health and immunity. If you don’t get enough rest on a regular basis, your system stops producing the white blood cells that power your body immunity. By switching to a routine that gives you at least 7 hours of sleep at night, you will be stronger and healthier.
People who are sleep-deprived over long periods of time are more susceptible to health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. If you are not getting the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night, it’s time to change your routine.
Get some exercise
When you do any form of exercise, you flush out toxins from your body before your immune system has to. It also enables your body to push newly created white blood cells through your system so that they can seek out and destroy bacteria or disease.
Apart from these direct benefits to your immunity, exercise also helps improve your cardiovascular health, build muscle tone, and reduce your weight. You’ll avoid many health problems if you have a healthy heart, strong muscles and a lean body.
The best forms of exercise are activities that get your heart pumping, help you stretch and tone muscles, and involve strength or resistance training. Throw in a short session of meditation and you have found the perfect workout.
Eat your way to health
There is a great deal of debate about the benefits of multivitamins and supplements, including this article by Harvard Medical School. What we do know is that a varied diet of fresh, unprocessed food, including vegetables, fruit, grain, and sources of protein is the best food for immunity.
But eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Choose seasonal produce that is grown in your region. When planning a meal, try to get at least three vegetables with different colours. Brightly coloured vegetables like red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, purple cabbage are known to have more vitamins, and green veggies like broccoli and kale are packed with goodness.
If you have a specific diet with restricted food groups, you should consult a nutritionist to see what you can do to get all the nutrients and minerals your immune system needs.
Work off that stress
All of us face stressful situations on a regular basis but if your stress levels are high over a long period of time, it can have a detrimental effect on your body immunity. When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol which is beneficial in small infrequent doses, but can damage your system’s production of white blood cells. When your white blood cell count is low, you are more vulnerable to bacterial infections.
By finding ways to reduce your stress levels, you will improve your sleep patterns, boost your appetite (so you can eat more healthy food), find motivation and energy for exercise, and maintain a positive mood.
There are many ways to reduce your stress levels. Making time for hobbies you love, creating a fulfilling workout routine to help you sweat it out, spending time with loved ones or close friends, writing a journal, doing a yoga or meditation session, or going for a run by yourself – all these are great (and healthy) ways to get your stress levels under control. If you find that your job or lifestyle is making you anxious on a regular basis, it might be worth considering some bigger changes.
By making improvements to specific areas of your life, diet and exercise schedule, you will notice incredible benefits apart from increased immunity and better health.