Boosting your Immune System against Coronavirus: How to minimize the risk of infection?

COVID – 19 or Coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. And while countries are tackling the imminent dangers that this virus poses to humanity, there are few key measures that individuals can take to combat this pandemic.

Although it is important to mention hygiene standards such as washing your hands frequently, particularly if you have traveled by public transport. Use an alcohol sanitizer, if you fly to wash your face, wear a mask (cover your nose and ears) and stop touching your hand or ears. There are also some methods to improve your immunity that are of paramount importance at this juncture.

Individuals with other pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disorders are at a greater risk of developing COVID 19 complications, which often worsens with age as general immunity declines as you get older. In younger generations with no underlying illnesses, COVID 19 may result in a minor infection, provided that you have robust immunity and do not engage in activities such as smoking or vaping to combat the onslaught of the virus. Here is a list of steps you should take to enhance your immunity.

Improve Your Diet

The food you eat plays a key role in determining your overall health and immunity. Eat low carbohydrate diets to help regulate elevated blood sugar and blood pressure. A low-carb diet will help to slow down diabetes and concentrate on a protein-rich diet to keep you in good shape. And regularly eat vegetables and fruit rich in beta carotene, ascorbic acid, and other essential vitamins. Certain foods, such as mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, and green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, are also good ways to build body resilience against infections.

You can also eat supplements rich in omega 3 & 6 fatty acids at your daily dose if you don’t have the option of buying food during social distancing. Some natural immune supplements include ginger, gooseberries (Amla) and turmeric. Many of these super-foods are popular ingredients in Indian dishes and snacks. There are a number of herbs that help boost immunity, such as garlic, Basel leaves and black cumin. Some seeds and nuts, such as sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and melon seeds, are excellent sources of protein and vitamin E.

Probiotics such as yogurt, Yakult and fermented food are also excellent sources of rejuvenation of intestinal bacteria, which is important for the body’s absorption of nutrients. These are also good choices for the older generation.

Don’t Compromise on Sleep

Good snooze time for 7-8 hours is the best way to help your body build immunity; less sleep leaves you tired and impairs your brain activity. Lack of sleep will prevent the body from resting, and this will impair other body functions that will have a direct impact on your immunity. Lack of sleep adversely affects the efficacy of the influenza vaccine.

Stay Hydrated

Drink up to 8-10 glasses of water every day to keep it hydrated. Hydration helps flush the toxins out of the body and reduces the chance of flu. Other alternatives include juices made from citrus fruit and coconut water to heat up.

Don’t Skip on Exercise

A good diet should be followed by a routine exercise. Remember to exercise regularly; even light exercise is going a long way to release toxins from your body. It is recommended that you exercise for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your stamina. If you haven’t started to exercise yet, it’s a good time to get started. There are several Youtube channels and apps available to help you exercise at home. Regular exercise improves metabolism, which is directly related to body immunity.

Distress Yourself

These are testing times, and a prolonged period of indoor living has implications for your mental well-being. Growing anxiety about a pandemic is another concern that affects millions around the globe. While uncertainty may be overwhelming, there are few steps we can take regularly to help relieve our stress, stress is known to have an adverse effect on immunity.

  • Practice meditation

Too much stress releases the hormone known as cortisol, which impairs your response to the immediate environment and makes your body susceptible to infections; you feel constantly anxious. The best way to relieve stress is through meditation, a tried and tested activity to calm the nerves. If you need help meditating, there are many channels on Youtube that have instructional tools to help you meditate..

  • Avoid Smoking, alcohol and other addictive substances

Certain habits, such as smoking, vaping, alcohol consumption, and substance abuse, have a direct correlation between weakened body defenses and respiratory diseases. Engaging in smoking and vaping has been shown to weaken your lung capacity and destroy the cells that line your respiratory tract, which is crucial to the fight against viruses that enter your nasal orifices. New research has shown that individuals involved in heavy alcohol intake appear to suffer from ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) which is one of the disorders caused by Covid 19 infection. Practice caution if you rely on either of these, as sudden withdrawal can also prove to be risky.

  • Travelling

Avoid all kinds of non-essential travel. Most of the Covid 19 positive cases are imported cases, which later spread to the populations. To avoid any likelihood of exposure, avoid being exposed to the public transport system and public places. In case you need to fly, make sure to cover your nose and mouth with a mask and bring an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at all times. Remember to sanitize every time you touch the surface, as Covid 19 can stay on the surface for a few hours to days. Using the non-dominant hand when manipulating doorknobs and handles, as many people also touch them.

Supplements and immunity boosting foods

While all of the above tips will definitely help, the hour’s need is a quick boost to your immunity system to keep it fighting fit. If you are worried about whether you are receiving the right amount of nutrients from your diet, ask your doctor about a supplementation regimen to improve your immune system. Here are a couple of common supplements and superfoods that can help.

  1. Vitamin C

This particular vitamin is a crucial participant in the army of immunity. It helps prevent the common cold. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and protects against damage induced by oxidative stress. For severe infections, including sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), high dose intravenous vitamin C treatment has been shown to significantly improve symptoms in patients.

  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements have a mild protective effect against respiratory tract infections. Most people are deficient in Vitamin-D, so it’s best to consult with a doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement to boost immune response

  1. Zinc

Zinc is a vital component to WBC (white blood corpuscles) which fights infections. Zinc deficiency often makes one more susceptible to flu, cold and other viral infections. It is advisable to take a zinc supplement, especially for older people.

  1. Elderberry

Elderberries are full of nutrients including minerals like phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper and vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, and C, proteins and dietary fiber. Elderberries have antibacterial and antiviral qualities which help fight cold and influenza.

  1. Turmeric and Garlic

The bright yellow spice, Turmeric, contains a compound called curcumin, which enhances immune function. Garlic has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that improve body immunity. Apart from keeping a balanced lifestyle and taking supplements, the Indian Ministry of Health also recommends few organic and natural ways of practicing as preventive measures to fight COVID-19. The Ministry of AYUSH recommended the following recommendations for self-care as preventive measures and to improve immunity with special regard to respiratory safety.

  • Drink warm water throughout the day.
  • Practice Meditation, Yogasana, and Pranayama.
  • Increase the intake of Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, and garlic.
  • Drink herbal tea or decoction of Holy basil, Cinnamon, Black pepper, Dry Ginger, and Raisin.
  • Avoid sugar and replace it with jaggery if needed.
  • Apply Ghee (clarified butter), Sesame oil, or Coconut oil in both the nostrils to keep the nostrils clean.
  • Inhale steam with Mint leaves and Caraway seeds.

While the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic is fought by our health care workers, we can do our bit by limiting our exposure to the virus by staying indoors, social distancing, eating healthy, hydrating and following basic hygiene protocol

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