Your immune system is your body’s first line of defence against COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Comprised of organs, antibodies, proteins, chemicals and white blood cells, it works around the clock to keep infection-causing germs, such as COVID-19, at bay. When COVID-19 virus enters your body, your immune system will attempt to identify it. If deemed potentially harmful, it will then attack the pathogen with white blood cells, so that it is unable to spread.
Reduce Intake of Refined Sugar
Diets high in refined sugar can suppress your immune system and increase your risk of infectious illness. Also known as processed sugar, refined sugar contains no beneficial vitamins or nutrients. It is harvested from sugar canes and sugars beets. Then, it is added to many foods and beverages as a sweetener. A study conducted by researchers from the Loma Linda University found that consuming 100 grams of refined sugar reduces the effectiveness of white blood cells by up to 40 percent. Considering that white blood cells are the immune system’s primary weapon against infection-causing germs likeCOVID-19, this means consuming too much refined sugar can leave you vulnerable to the illness.
To strengthen your immune system, follow the American Heart Association’s (AHA) dietary guidelines by consuming no more than 25 grams of sugar daily, if you are a woman, or 38 grams daily, if you are a man.
Get 7 to 8 Hours of High-Quality Sleep Per Night
Insufficient sleep can also suppress your immune system. Sleep regulates your body’s metabolism, as well as its immune system function. When you do not get enough high-quality sleep, your immune system produces fewer infection-fighting compounds, like antibodies and proteins, thus increasing your risk for illness.
Aim for approximately seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep per night to promote a healthy immune system. If you struggle to fall asleep, try setting a schedule by lying down at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. After a while, your body’s circadian rhythm will adjust itself to this new routine, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.
Keep Your Stress Levels Low
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your body. It elevates your blood pressure, disturbs your digestive system, slows down your metabolism and even suppresses your immune system. With that being said, short-term stress is not necessarily bad for your immune system. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, has been shown to reduce inflammation, thus assisting the immune system in fighting off COVID-19. However, people who suffer from stress for the period of multiple consecutive months or longer tend to develop a resistance to cortisol. As a result, their immune systems become less effective at fighting infection-causing germs.
To keep your stress levels low, consider the following tips:
• Reduce the intake of caffeinated beverages.
• Practice yoga.
• Light scented candles.
• Listen to music.
• Get a deep-tissue massage.
• Stay active.
• Watch a funny movie or TV show.
• Take time off work.
Catch Some Sun Rays
We all know that sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, which our bodies use to absorb calcium and build stronger bones. However, sunlight exposure can also strengthen your immune system. Research has shown that spending just 10 minutes under direct sunlight stimulates the body’s production of a specific type of white blood cell called T lymphocyte (T cell). As levels of T cells in your body rise, your immune system becomes better equipped to defend against COVID-19.
Of course, too much sunlight can damage your skin and negate its immune-boosting benefits. Wear sunscreen lotion when staying outdoors. And, if you see your skin turning pink or red, head indoors. Depending on your skin, as little as 30 minutes of sunlight exposure can damage your skin, if you do not wear sunscreen lotion.
Drink Lots of Water
There is a reason so many doctors tell patients to drink lots of fluids when ill. Water supports a healthy immune system. It assists the immune system by flushing toxins and germs through the urinary tract, as well as the lymphatic system. Water also moisturizes the mucous membrane lining your nose, so that it is less likely to dry out.
To determine how many ounces of water you need to drink per day, take your body weight and divide it by two. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, you should consume about 75 ounces of water per day.
Exercise Regularly, But Don’t Overdo It
Exercising for 75 to 150 minutes per week can strengthen your immune system by suppressing the release of pro-inflammatory compounds known as cytokines. High levels of cytokines cause inflammation in the body while impairing the immune system’s ability to fight COVID-19 in the process. By exercising regularly, you will keep your body’s cytokine levels in check, so that it does not hinder your immune system’s functions. Furthermore, exercising helps you relax, both physically and mentally, which may have a positive impact on your stress levels.
But, you should not exercise too much. Long bouts of intense, vigorous exercises cause a negative impact by suppressing the immune system. That is because strenuous exercises promote the release of cortisol, which temporarily reduces the effectiveness of the immune system.
Eat More Probiotics
Not all microorganisms are harmful to your health. There are trillions of bacterial cells living in the average person’s body, some of which promote a healthy immune system by fighting bad germs that could otherwise cause an infectious illness. If these beneficial bacterial cells die off, COVID-19 can thrive.
To promote the growth of beneficial bacterial cells in your diet, add more probiotics to your diet. Probiotic food and beverages contain live cultures of beneficial microorganisms that, when consumed, work to neutralize COVID-19 in your digestive system. Yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread and cheese all contain probiotics.
Unless you live in a bubble, it is impossible to prevent all forms of infectious illness, such as COVID-19. You get exposed to too many germs on a daily basis. By strengthening your immune system, you can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, and stay safe and healthy.