Hello readers, welcome to another one of my blog post about IMMUNITY ENHANCING TIPS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
So many of you must have already been on the internet reading loads about how to boost your immune system during these times or how to give it a kick-start so it can fight off the novel Coronavirus infection. Well, let’s have a fact check. You wouldn’t want to “boost” your immunity; now or ever. And here’s the reason why.
Have you ever experienced really bad allergies from just dust or pollen? Or a persistent common cold that just wouldn’t go away, no matter what you did. This is your innate immunity acting up.
Your body constantly produces white blood cells to prepare itself from the attack of a foreign invader (bacteria or virus). Let’s take the example of an army of soldiers guarding the border of a country.
The first line of defence is the electric fencing etc keeping the intruders out. If the intruders manage to cross this fence, the soldiers are on guard and do whatever they can to kill the intruders. That is a healthy response.
Now, consider this; if they’re a million soldiers and a single intruder, and the soldiers act in a similar way; doing all they can to protect themselves from the single rather harmless intruder. This does more harm than good.
A similar thing happens with our immune system. When a virus or allergen enters the body, the white blood cells get super activated and produce a hyper response producing fever, runny nose, phlegm.
Now, although this indicates a very healthy immune system, you wouldn’t want it amped-up or “boosted”. Otherwise, every time you had a common cold, you would land up in a hospital bed, on a ventilator.
The concept of boosting immunity doesn’t really exist. Even vaccines take a minimum of 3 weeks to be able to provide immunity. Immunity can be improved by a healthy lifestyle, over a period of time. But it cannot magically be boosted to 5x by the swish of a wand.
Enhancing your immunity means eating healthy, exercising regularly, having a good circadian rhythm. There are no SUPERFOODS that can boost your immunity. But certain foods definitely act to improve immunity by providing the essential vitamins and minerals required.
Fruits and vegetables –
All and every kind of them. The more colour the better. It is recommended to have atleast 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
Try including seasonal fruits and veggies. Include orange and green fruits and veggies as they are a rich source of vitamins A.
Also include citrus fruits rich in vitamin C like orange, gooseberry, lime, lemon.
Vitamin C is essential to fight off infections.
Vitamin D –
Not many rich sources of vitamin D exist, the best one in sunlight.
If it be possible, half an hour walks in sunshine, without lathering on sunscreen, is recommended.
Studies have shown that people who were kept on vitamin D supplements, suffered from infections much less than those who were not.
Vitamin D deficiency is the commonest amongst Indians and those residing in the northern hemisphere.
Hence, supplementation of vitamins D should be done, once a week for 3 months.
Some sources of vitamins D are: eggs, salmon, Cod liver oil, mushrooms, fortified dairy products.
Antioxidant rich foods –
Inflammatory reactions are the hallmark of the immune system acting up. These reactions take place when there are free radicals produced as a by product of foods we consume.
These radicals undergo oxidation, which produces unwanted inflammations all over the body.
Consuming antioxidant rich foods reduces these free radicals and thereby reduces inflammations in the body.
Berries, ginger, lime, turmeric, nuts and seeds are very rich sources of antioxidants and should be included in the diet.
Proteins are the building blocks in our body and are essential to be taken to improve immunity as well.
Vegetarians often fall deficient of proteins, but there are many rich sources of vegetarian proteins.
Legumes, lentils, soy based foods, dairy products are good sources of dietary protein.
An average person should consume 2-3 servings of proteins everyday.
Moderate exercise has been shown to improve the flu-fighting power of vaccines in seniors.
But during the outbreak, stay away from exercise partners! Solo exercises include jogging, jumping rope, and a variety of at-home workouts from yoga to HIIT.
Some prefer gardening, which can also be great exercise.
Stress reduction –
Moreover, chronic stress has been shown in some studies to leave us more vulnerable to infections.
An article reviewed by Dr. Stöppler explains: “Being stressed out leads to increased levels of suppressor T cells, which suppress the immune system.
When this branch of the immune system is impaired, you are more susceptible to viral illnesses including respiratory conditions like colds, flu, and the novel coronavirus infection.
You can reduce stress through breathing exercises, meditation, working out, talking to a therapist, and getting out into nature, along with many other ways.
Getting the right amount of quality sleep can help your natural infection resistance, too.
Several studies confirm the link between sleep and a healthy immune system. For most adults, that means 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted slumber.
If you find it difficult to get this much, you can try to improve your “sleep hygiene” by waking up at the same time each day, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evening, and following a bedtime routine you find relaxing.
Hydration is another key factor when it comes to keeping infections/ germs away.
Make sure you and your kid hydrates well.
Along with 8 glasses of water, add fresh lemon water (great in increasing a cell’s anti-viral defense mechanisms), 1 glass tender coconut water, buttermilk etc.