Boost your immunity with these easy steps and find yourself easing to a healthy lifestyle
As we are several weeks into the country’s general community quarantine, it seems our immune system is working overtime, no doubt trying its best to protect us from most sickness, including the highly publicized COVID-19 virus. We have come to know about this virus very well since it was first reported in January, and now, more than ever, we realize the importance of boosting our immunity in order to fight this virus.
Nutrition plays a vital role in strengthening our immune system, and thankfully, it is one of the few things we can take control of. Factors like age, genetics, chronic disease, and stress, are also factors that make us susceptible to viruses. But eating nutrient-dense food, taking adequate supplements, exercising, getting enough sun, and learning how to manage stress are all things we can incorporate into our lifestyle to make ourselves healthier and happier. Yes, amidst all the gloom and doom we are bombarded with on a daily basis, it is possible to stay away from stress while taking care of ourselves, and our families.
So, how does our immune system work? Well, mainly, its job is to look for viruses, to kill it. However, viruses can be quite tricky to catch. Some of them can be 44 times smaller than bacteria, can mask itself or hide in healthy cells, or can stay dormant for years until our bodies weaken with age, we get nutritionally deficient, or simply get stressed. And when our bodies weaken, that’s when the virus gets more virulent—this is when the virus will finally be able to infect the host (that’s us) and replicate itself to spread all over our bodies.
Thankfully, there are quite a number of things we can do to boost our immunity and stave off these lurking viruses and sicknesses. Here are seven ways to supercharge your immune system.
Load up on Vitamin C
It is a well-known antiviral component and is probably the most effective vitamin for fighting viruses. While it decreases the risk of certain lung infections, it increases the susceptibility of viral infections, increases the production of white blood cells, as well as shortens the amount of time we are sick with a virus. Viruses, in general, deplete the body of Vitamin C—loading up increases the body’s virus-fighting cells. It is a powerful anti-oxidant and should be taken daily to increase immunity.
Tips: Eating vitamin C-rich foods is definitely one way of delivering this nutrient to the body (the highest food with vitamin C is sauerkraut, as well as bell peppers and green leafy vegetables). But also taking at least 1000mg of Vitamin C supplements can help, as well as regular intravenous Vitamin C drips to ensure the body gets the most of this vitamin in its system.
Eat foods rich in ZINC
While this is a vital nutrient in the body, 2 billion people on this planet are actually Zinc-deficient. Zinc is a trace mineral that the body does not store, so we have to consume it regularly. This also means we need it in smaller amounts compared to other nutrients, so the best way to do it is by consuming it through food. Now, how does Zinc work? It acts as a co-factor for over a thousand enzymes. Certain enzymes in our body do all the work, but they need Zinc to function, so it is an essential nutrient.
Tips: Foods highest in Zinc are oysters, beef, crab, and pumpkin seed. But it can also be taken as a daily supplement.
Work on your gut health
Most of us don’t know that there is an actual relationship between gut bacteria and viruses. Over 70 percent of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut walls, which makes gut health incredibly important. Our gut has the microbiome, which is the genetic material of all the microbes, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that live on and inside the human body. And as of late, research on the microbiome has linked it to numerous diseases and conditions, ranging from diabetes, anxiety, and obesity.
Tips: Lessening the consumption of sugary food will lessen the occurrence of pathogens like Candida. This can help balance out the good bacteria in your gut. Also, taking probiotics will help replenish the good bacteria, as will eating a lot of fiber (aka green, leafy vegetables) can help nourish them in your gut.
There is more to exercise than just looking good; it comes with a plethora of health benefits that can also increase our immunity. One of the benefits of exercise is its beneficial effects for our antioxidant reserve network, which ultimately helps prevent free radical damage and speed up the healing mechanism in our bodies. Apart from this, exercise stabilizes blood sugars, increases oxygen and overall energy, while decreasing stress and enhancing sleep.
Tips: Get effective workouts by doing shorter high-intensity exercises and plenty of recovery time. What are high-intensity exercises? Any workout that utilizes every single muscle at one time is the best. So doing aerobics, kettlebell exercises, and workouts that maximize your own body weight is the most effective.
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Get some sun
There are so many health benefits that come with getting regular amounts of sunlight every day. It is the best source of Vitamin D, which can effectively block and kill viruses and lower the risk of over 300 illnesses, which can ultimately boost our immune system. At the same time, our serotonin levels increase. General mood elevates when sunlight hits our skin and retina too. It also reduces melatonin in our bodies, making us more energetic or lively. And more importantly, the heat from the sun and the humidity generated from the sun has the power to decrease viral loads, perhaps including COVID-19.
Tips: Getting about 20 minutes of sunshine every day can help replenish Vitamin D in our bodies. But if this isn’t possible for you, taking a Vitamin D supplement can be just as helpful.
Try fasting a few times a week
Many amazing health benefits come with incorporating intermittent fasting into our lifestyle. Intermittent fasting is a tool (not a diet) and simply a pattern of eating and not eating. It involves timing your meals and lessening its frequency and not about counting calories. Apart from regulating our weight, protecting our bodies from muscle loss, it also increases the growth of new brain neurons while protecting existing ones, increases autophagy (when the body eats up viruses and infections), and insulin responsiveness. It also greatly affects the increase in our body’s human growth hormone and manages insulin, which blocks this and prevents weight loss. The body can surely benefit from this practice, which leads to lower susceptibility to sickness.
Tip: Start slowly by skipping breakfast, and in time try pushing your first meal further into the day. You’ll find that you will be more energetic, alert, and less prone to sickness.
Get enough sleep
No doubt, sleep deprivation has many damaging effects on our well-being, as this has a direct connection to our immunity to sickness. We may take it likely to shorten our sleep or skip it altogether, but not getting enough sleep has been linked to diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, and many more sicknesses. We need an adequate amount of sleep each night in order to repair and maintain our bodies, so there is really no benefit in skipping this.
Tip: It is best to create a daily schedule to give yourself enough time to sleep in a day. If you must, take an herbal-based sleep aid like melatonin and reduce the amount of blue light you see at night, which means putting away all gadgets in another room and maybe turning off your Wi-Fi at home.