As coronavirus continues to spread exponentially, online searches on how to bolster up one’s immunity have also skyrocketed. Building a strong immunity makes us less susceptible to the virus and therefore, our best defense against it until a vaccine is formulated. Through evolution, the function of the immune system has been honed so that many infectious organisms are dealt with very effectively, either eliminated from the body or held at bay without the individual succumbing to any significant illness. However, your immune health largely depends on the lifestyle choices you make every day. In this article, we will walk you through several ways to take care of yourself and give your immune system the best chance against coronavirus
- Keep your gut microbiome healthy. The food you eat largely affects the range and types of microbes in your gut. A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome. In order to increase the diversity of your microbiome, you need to eat a wide range of plant-based food that is rich in fiber and avoid eating processed food. Adopting a Mediterranean diet, which mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and whole grains, has shown to improve gut microbiome diversity and reduce inflammation.
- Drift off to slumberville. According to a study conducted by the Sleep Foundation, “Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye. Chronic sleep loss even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond. Basically, you have to maintain a good sleeping habit to strengthen your immune system.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Numerous studies have found a nexus between excessive alcohol consumption and immune function. Research has shown that people who drink in excess are more susceptible to respiratory illness and pneumonia and recover from infection and wounds more slowly. Alcohol alters the number of microbes in the gut microbiome and it can also damage the lungs, and impair the mucosal immune system, which is essential in helping the body recognize pathogens and fight infection. And it’s not just chronic drinking that does damage. Binge drinking can also impair the immune system.
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotics and vaccines Nowadays, people use excessive amounts of antibiotics. Antibiotics can seriously weaken the immune system and also build up a resistance to the medicine itself.
- Lower stress level by meditating. Stress causes an inflammatory response within the body that can greatly affect your fight-or-flight response by releasing too much of the stress hormone cortisol. It also leaves us more vulnerable to infections and disease, both in and out of the office. That’s why mindfully meditating has become a must for any biohacking entrepreneurs. There are various forms of mindfulness practices, ranging from the slow-moving poses of yoga and tai chi to myriad breathing techniques. And a recent study in Translational Psychiatry adds that “there seems to be something intrinsic about meditation itself that can shift gene expression and even boost mood over time.”
- Add probiotics to your diet. Your body contains ten times more bacteria than cells. Most of them have to be friendly. Friendly bacteria not only attack pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but they also trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders and they influence your mental/emotional state. It’s estimated that 80 % of your 100 trillion bacteria are located in the gut. Friendly bacteria are usually depleted, especially by GMOs. Commercial yogurt is insufficient. Fermented foods, like miso should be staples. If you’re forced into taking antibiotics, double up with fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh and miso soup twice daily.
- Avoid sugar at all costs. Cut out canned drinks, pastries, biscuits and such. A few grams of sugar can destroy your white blood cells’ ability to resist infections for several hours.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight off infections and viruses. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity for three days a week. This can include walking, biking, yoga, swimming, or other low impact workouts. Exercise increases blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, boosting our immune system against coronavirus.
- Quit smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes damage lung tissue and increase the risk of cancer. But they can also cause respiratory illnesses such as the flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. To improve your immune system function, take steps to kick a cigarette habit. Use smoking cessation aids such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum. You can also talk to your doctor about medications to reduce cravings for cigarettes.
- Check your vitamin D level. While more study is needed on the link between vitamin D and immune health, some promising research suggests that checking your vitamin D level — and taking a vitamin D supplement — could help your body fight off respiratory illness. In one study of 107 older patients, some patients took high doses of vitamin D while others were given standard doses. After a year, the researchers found that people in the high-dose group had 40 percent fewer respiratory infections over the course of the year compared to those on the standard dose.
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