CoronaVirus and Immune System Basics

The current coronavirus pandemic has us all asking questions, many of which we don’t yet have answers to. Thus far, we know many people are being affected, but at different degrees of severity. According to the CDC, the currently known risk factors that increase the chance of worse cases includes the elderly, men, and those with underlying health conditions. No matter where you fall from low to high risk, aside from following the latest CDC and WHO guidelines, taking care of yourself now is more important than ever. Making your health a priority can be done even with some simple changes.

 

1. Sleep

Your immune system requires adequate sleep in order to function as efficiently as possible. Make a goal of 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you’re struggling to sleep, the best solution is to figure out why. If you’re anxious or stressed, work on stress reduction. If the room is too hot, adjust the temperature, if your spouse snores, use earplugs. Now is the time to prioritize sleep, as it really is one of the best ways to support your immune system.

 

2. Stress Reduction

Studies show extended high stress reduces your immune system’s ability to fight off infections, and it increases your risk of developing chronic conditions. Practice stress reduction daily, whatever that may be for you. You can meditate (free videos online), deep breathing (again, free videos online), read a book, garden, talk to a friend, etc. Even spending time outside going for a walk can reduce stress levels. This also allows you to benefit from Vitamin D. Past research has shown vitamin D production is important for immune health.

 

3. Exercise

Moderate regular exercise strengthens your immune system, while overtraining weakens it. Now is the time to maintain your exercise program, not the time to train for a marathon. Even better, exercise outside, just make sure you hydrate with water after, and give yourself and others space.

 

4. Hydration

Focus on drinking water. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water. Green tea and kombucha are also beneficial. Avoid frequent/excessive alcohol, soda, and sugary juices.

 

5. Food

Food is a necessity meant to nourish your body. As much as you realistically can, eat real food. Eat as many different vegetables and fruit as you can. Focus especially on: onions, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, berries, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, turmeric, bell peppers, sprouts, kefir, sauerkraut. Your digestive system is an important part of your immune system. Eating real food, veggies, fruits, whole grains helps to feed your good bacteria to keep your healthy bacteria robust and keep your immune system strong. Avoid processed foods (as much as you can), and especially avoid excess sugar. Sugar makes your white blood cells less efficient.

 

6. Connect

Humans are social creatures, and loneliness especially now during isolation is rampant. Please make sure you check on others and reach out when you need help. We are physically staying away from each other but continue to communicate. Call people, facetime, use group video chatting to remain connected with people. If you’re still having a difficult time, utilize telemedicine for therapy.

 

7. Supplements

There are many supplements promoted right now if you search online. Please do not just take any supplement promoted, this is never a good idea. There are supplements that have been used historically to help support your immune system, but keep in mind these haven’t been tested or proven against the current coronavirus since it is so new. Exercise caution here, and prior to taking anything, discuss with your doctor.

 

With this, keep in mind no one is perfect. You will have good days, bad days, and every kind of day in between. Some days you will want to be productive, some days you will want to be lazy. Allow yourself to do it all, without guilt. Be gentle with yourself, listen to what your body needs, and do your best. Do not forget to check on your neighbors and people you love. The best way to overcome adversity is with the help of others, and helping others in return.

 

* It’s important to reference current WHO & CDC Guidelines, these notes are in addition to what they are recommending. *

Author
Teresa Spano

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