Most, if not all, of us were pretty worried and unsure about this whole COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the beginning. But, as with all viruses, the main way in our control to combat this problem is to strengthen our immune systems.
We’ve all been told a ton — ‘til we can say it in our sleep — to wear masks, stay at home, and practice social distancing, but we’ve hardly, if at all, heard about the need to revamp our immune systems, which actually do the job of fighting viruses and other threats to our health (duh, immunity?).
The immune system is the body’s first defense against infections and disease and is foundational to good health. If the immune system is compromised or not mindfully maintained, then it’s little wonder why our health flies out the window. What we need to focus on is strengthening our immune systems to keep us healthy, which will prevent us from getting sick and catching the coronavirus.
Whenever the flu season hits, people hit up the immune system remedies to protect themselves from the circulating viruses and germs. And the same can apply to the current coronavirus. With that said, let’s talk about five main ways to boost your immune system to strengthen against COVID-19 and maintain general health.
1. Supplement with Immune-Boosting Vitamins
Since there are so many vitamins out there, we’ll just touch on a couple of the most important for the immune system: Vitamins C and D.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays a huge role in the immune system. Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells, called lymphocytes and phagocytes, which are the soldiers of the body’s immune system that fight against infection. Since it’s an antioxidant, Vitamin C boosts the immune system by fighting inflammation and protecting against free radicals that can cause disease. Methods of ingesting Vitamin C include natural supplements or foods with a high content, such as citrus (I mean, who doesn’t like using lemon in water or as seasoning?).
Vitamin C encourages the production of white blood cells.
Vitamin D is highly important and necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system. A study of COVID-19 by Jilian Kubala, MS, RD, published by Healthline showed evidence of the role of Vitamin D as crucial for the activation of the immune system defenses due to its anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties.
Everyone has been emphasizing the need to stay at home, but a lack of sun exposure actually lowers your immunity. So definitely get that daily dose in some gentle morning sunshine, even if it’s too hot the rest of the day. This also implies getting some fresh air, preferably out in nature, without having to wear a mask! Supplemental Vitamin D3 is also highly beneficial and can be taken regularly.
2. Eat Healthily and Stay Hydrated
Here’s a biggie: eat your medicine! Incorporate immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory foods such as garlic and ginger (and lemon^) into your diet. Make some fresh soups, drink herbal teas, and load up on the seasoning with the spices and herbs! Eat plenty of fresh, not just canned or frozen, vegetables (more greens, not potatoes) and fruits (berries are great antioxidants) for daily vitamins and essential nutrients. And no, ketchup and fries don’t count as vegetables.
Avoid processed and complex foods that weaken immunity, such as refined sugar/carbs and dairy, or at least limit these foods to a minimum or a special treat a day. Eat well (chew and don’t eat while you’re stressed or rushed) and eat clean.
Garlic, ginger, and lemon are immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory.
Stay hydrated! Drink purified water, and if it’s hard to drink lots of water during the day, then add lemon juice, a teabag, cucumbers, or berries to your water to cheer it up a bit. Think of your body as a filter: if it gets tons of junk loaded in, it will clog up and not work well, versus maintaining a clean filtration environment.
3. Firewater: A Homemade Immunity Shot
An immune tip that my family likes to use (well, it’s more of a love-hate relationship, as you’ll see why) is making immune-boosting shots we call "Firewater." After you make sure your stomach is not empty, combine:
¼ cup of purified water
¼ tsp. of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ginger powder (fresh is better)
1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
juice of one lemon
one good-sized clove of garlic, pressed
Mix well and chug! Wait a bit before you drink water to rinse. You can take it as a preventative, as well as in the initial stages of the flu or a cold. Although it tastes awful, it works great, and I promise you won’t die from it — none of us have, yet! Most health food stores like Whole Foods will carry similar remedies.
4. Sleep Well
This is one that often gets kicked off the priorities list. Most adults, especially those who are in college or who are parents with young children, tend to not get enough quality sleep. However, restful and deep sleep has proved to be crucial for the body’s immunity. Most of the body’s regeneration and restoration happen during deep sleep.
Most of the body’s regeneration and restoration happen during deep sleep.
Sleep time needs to be relaxed and restful to receive the best benefits. Finish eating for the day a few hours before bedtime so your food can mostly digest before you sleep, so the body can focus on cell regeneration and healing instead. Try to go to bed early and get off the gadgets at least an hour before bedtime (don’t take your phone to bed with you) to limit the blue light exposure which disrupts sleep patterns.
5. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is so important for multiple reasons: it boosts immunity by stimulating oxygen and blood circulation, improves digestion and gut function, and cleanses the lymphatics. Try to get exercise in every day, whether in personal workouts or sports (which can also get you a plus of good fresh air and sunshine). Plus, consistent exercise uses up time in the day against the COVID-induced epidemic of boredom that most of us have contracted at some point these last five months!
6. Maintain Your Mental Health
Don’t let yourself submit to the fear factor. There’s a saying that “a bad thought can be more harmful than a bad bug.” If you’re consuming lots of news about the COVID stats and increasing virus-victim numbers every day, then you’re actually decreasing your immunity by getting into the fearful negativity.
“A bad thought can be more harmful than a bad bug.”
Don’t let yourself get anxious whenever you have to go out in public. Wear your mask when you really have to (and make sure to wash it or switch it out if it’s disposable), but don’t be obsessed about not catching the virus. Instead of worrying about not getting sick, health should involve a positive mindset of becoming and staying healthy.
Some of the above points may seem basic, but sometimes it’s easy to think complicatedly and forget to keep up the basic but essential fundamentals for healthy living. Honestly, this should become part of our regular daily lifestyles, apart from COVID-19 precautions. We definitely would catch the flu and random sniffles a lot less if we practiced the key concepts of immunity, like intaking vitamins, observing good diet, getting proper sleep, and exercising regularly — all with a positive mindset!