Tips to nourish your immunity during coronavirus pandemic
It’s always the job of the immune system to defend the body against several illnesses and diseases. To protect your body from harm at its best level than every component of the immune system needs to perform exactly according to plan. If you want to nourish your immunity but wonder how to help your body fight off illnesses than the best you can ensure to yourself is to practice the ‘good-for-you’ behaviors that your immune system runs on.
Here are some tips listed below to nourish your immunity naturally.
- Get enough sleep:
Sleep and immunity are closely connected to each other. In fact, poor quality or incomplete sleep is directly linked to sickness. A study in healthy adults showed that those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch various diseases than those who slept for more than 6 hours.
Getting adequate sleep and rest nourish your natural immunity. Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep, while teens need 8–10 hours, and infants or younger ones should take up to 14 hours of sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting the use of the screen for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.
- Eat a Healthy Diet:
The nutrients you get from your diet — in particular, a plant-based diet like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs, and spices — are essential to keeping your immune system functioning properly because they have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which help to fight off infection and flu.
Research suggests that deficiency of several vitamins like C, D, E, B6, and B12 may increase the likelihood of attracting infection. Our bodies do not produce these essential vitamins on their own, so we need to get it through foods (such as citrus fruits, kiwis, red pepper, and leafy vegetables).
Protein is also critical for the health of the immune system. The amino acids in protein help build and maintain immune cells and lower the body’s ability to fight infections and get rid of the virus.
When it comes to a diet that supports good immune health, focus on incorporating more plants and plant-based foods. Add fruits and veggies such as carrots, spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, apricots, citrus fruits (such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit), and strawberries to soups, salads, stews, and smoothies, or eat them as snacks. All are great sources of vitamins A, C, and D, while seeds and nuts will provide protein, zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin B12. The antioxidants and fiber in these foods help decrease inflammation and support healthy gut bacteria so as to enhance further immunity.
- Stay Hydrated:
Being hydrated regularly is important to your overall health. Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, mood, focus, digestion; heart and kidney function, and so on. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness. To prevent dehydration, one should drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every day. While juices are also hydrating but it’s better to limit your intake of fruit juices because of their high sugar content. You should drink water when you’re thirsty and stop when you’re no longer thirsty.
- Cut down on added sugar:
Eating foods that contain added or processed sugar has been found to have negative effects on your immune system. Added sugar found in processed foods like jams, cookies, candy, sugary drinks, and so on may weaken the function of white blood cells in the body to fight against bacteria and viruses. This compromises the immune system's ability to safeguard your health.
If you crave something sweet, reach for fresh fruit or healthier alternatives to it.
- Add probiotics and prebiotics:
Bacteria are found everywhere: on our skin, hair and nails, and also inside our body especially in our intestines. In our intestines, these organisms are called gut microbiome. We don't notice them until they are imbalances due to illness or a condition that gives symptoms such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea. Some research supports the proper and regular use of prebiotics and probiotics promote and create a healthier balance of bacteria inside the gut.
Since supplements are not regulated enough, it's best to consume prebiotics and probiotics from fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or leafy greens to create a healthy environment in your gut microbiome.
- Keep Stress Under Control:
Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health. Long-term stress leads to chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone called cortisol that promotes inflammation in the body that imbalance the function of immune cells. In particular, prolonged psychological or physical stress suppresses the immune response. Activities such as regular exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling, and other mindfulness practices benefit your body to tackle with stress-related problems and hence nourish your further immune system.
- Engage in regular exercise:
If you’re looking for a magic bullet to boost your body’s ability to fight off viruses such as Covid-19, you might be disappointed. But if you want added motivation to improve your overall well-being, look no further:
Studies show that a single session of moderate exercise can give a boost to the immune system that reduces inflammation and regenerates the immune cells also improves your overall wellbeing.
“Healthy Immune Systems live in healthy bodies”. So think yourself in a big picture from eating right to staying active.
Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking for 30 mins, steady bicycling, jogging, skipping, swimming, and light hiking. People should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for their proper wellbeing.
- Consume alcohol in moderation:
Drinking alcohol in moderation is OK sometimes but consuming it in excess can lead to the deterioration of immune cells. There is evidence from both human and animal studies that overconsumption of alcohol decreases immune reactivity by reducing the body’s ability to fight from flu and various infections.
- Quit Smoking:
If in case you need one more reason or some sort of motivation to quit smoking – here you go: “Smoking impairs the ability to fight from infection. So, one should avoid smoking. Avoiding it will do wonders, in terms of improving immunity.
The effect of smoking is similar to what's seen when a person drinks alcohol in excess. Hence, “Smoking affects the entire body – it’s not just the lungs”
- Wash your hands thoroughly:
Contaminated and dirty hands spread several numbers of infectious diseases. People with dirty hands can infect themselves – by touching their faces especially eyes and nose. They can also pass the infection to other people by shaking hands. Insufficient hand hygiene can lead to gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses. For your safety, hand wash thoroughly with soap and water for atleast 20 seconds.
When you should consider washing hands:
- Before and after eating food.
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- After shaking hands.
- After using the washroom.
- After touching an animal or handling animal waste.
- After using public transportation.
- After throwing garbage.
- After treating or meeting a sick person.