Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a new virus that had not been previously identified in humans. There is currently no vaccine to prevent (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Another thing you can do is to improve your diet and fitness. So, it this article we are going to discuss how to boost your immune system during coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus infects people and spreads easily from person-to-person. Cases have been detected in most countries worldwide and community spread is being detected in a growing number of countries. On March 11, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Who is at Higher Risk from COVID-19?
The information from the Centers for Disease Control shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness.
- Older adults
- People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (Coronavirus) because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take action to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.
Don’t let the media scare you! Don’t panic but protect yourself and others.
How to Boost Your Immune System?
Everyone is talking about Boosting the Immune System to Fight Coronavirus, but what are the steps you can take to keep your immune system strong and healthy?
There may be steps that you can follow to strengthen your immunity in the short to medium term, to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.
1. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress has a direct effect on immunity. When you experience a stressful event, your body responds by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which affect your production of T-cell lymphocytes (1), a type of immune cell responsible for fighting infections. Your immune system will overcome short term stress. But when stress becomes chronic, you can become susceptible to viruses (including Coronavirus) and bacterial infections. So, how to boost your immune system when you feel stressed?
Fear about the coronavirus is normal – but “don’t let it control you!”.
It’s important to know how to manage and reduce your stress levels. Introduce more time to relax, exercise regularly, get more sleep and express your creative side.
Create artwork, if you aren’t into drawing or painting, consider coloring in a coloring book. Adult coloring books have risen in popularity and for good reason—coloring can be a great stress reliever (2).
Research consistently shows that coloring can have a meditative effect. One study found that anxiety levels decline in people who were coloring complex geometric patterns, making it a perfect outlet for stress reduction (3).
While another study showed that music strengthened the immune system (4).
2. Exercise Regularly (at Home)
Research shows that moderate exercise boosts your immune system and can potentially reduce the severity of an upper respiratory tract infection. However, overdoing it adds to stress levels, raising cortisol, and weakening your immune system (5).
Moderate exercise means raising your heartbeat about 50%-70% of your maximum heart rate, for around 150 minutes per week. You can do this by taking a brisk walk or a jog. The good news is that you don’t need to go out or go to a public gym to exercise; instead, you can exercise at home until the threat of coronavirus has passed. Here are some of the exercises you can do at home:
- Walking or jogging on a treadmill
- Using an elliptical trainer
- Jogging in place
- Jumping rope
- Jumping Jacks
- Staircase exercise
- Gardening and some housework, such as vacuuming.
3. Quit Smoking
It’s well known that smoking increases your risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection. Coronavirus is a disease that attacks the lungs, and if they are already damaged by smoking, then it will increase the risk of complications. So if you’re wondering how to boost your immune system – quit smoking.
Stopping smoking will help you deal with the effects of coronavirus. Incidentally, if you enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, this might offer some protection, but only for non-smokers (6).
4. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep plays a big role in boosting and regulating your immune system.
Remarkably, recent studies show how the immune system replenishes itself during sleep, and even one night without sleep affects the innate immune system.
The innate immune system is the first line of defense against viral infection, it responds immediately to prevent the spread of the virus throughout the body. “Natural killer” cells are a type of lymphocyte (a white blood cell) available in blood circulation. These cells play a crucial role in this first line of defense against viruses, as they immediately recognize virally-infected cells and rapidly eliminate them. So while you’re working to boost your immune system during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s crucial to get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep reduces white blood cells
Researchers found that sleep disturbance causes a reduction of Natural Killer cell activity. This means that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re not getting that natural killer cell protective activity, so you are more prone to catch viruses such as colds and the flu, even coronavirus. So is it really possible to boost your immune system by catching up on your sleep? Let’s look at the study that explains this in detail.
A Study on Sleep and Natural Killer Cell Activity
A group of researchers conducted several studies to test whether sleep loss alters daytime values of cellular immune function and the effect of night partial sleep deprivation on Natural Killer cell activity. One study included 23 medically and psychiatrically healthy male volunteers.
After a night of sleep deprivation between 3 and 7 AM, Natural Killer cell activity was reduced in 18 of the 23 subjects with average virus destruction activity reduced significantly.
Another study included 42 medically and psychiatrically healthy male volunteers. After a night of sleep deprivation between 10 P.M. and 3 A.M., a reduction of natural immune responses measured by Natural Killer cell activity was found.
In both studies, after a night of recovery sleep, Natural Killer cell activity had returned to baseline levels.
These studies results indicate the role of early night sleep in the modulation of natural immunity and demonstrated that even modest sleep disturbances produce a reduction of Natural Killer cell activity.
Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep helps boost your Natural Killer cell activity to get rid of viruses and keep you healthy. While sleep deprivation will reduce your immune response (7,8).
The link between sleep and respiratory infections
Moreover, there’s a link between insufficient sleep and upper respiratory tract infections. A study of over 22,000 Americans showed that participants who slept for 5 hours or fewer per night, or who reported low-quality sleep, had an increased likelihood of reporting a head cold or chest infection in the previous 30 days than people who slept for 6 or 9 hours (9).
If you are experiencing sleeplessness due to coronavirus anxiety, try to relax yourself before going to sleep at night to avoid waking up in the middle of the night feeling anxious.
Here are some tips to help you sleep better
- Do something relaxing like reading or listening to relaxing music until you feel drowsy.
- Keep your bedroom‘s environment comfortable; temperature, lighting, and noise should be controlled to help you to fall (and stay) asleep.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable.
- Keep away all electronic devices and mobile phones so you can ensure a quiet place, free of distractions.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.
- Don’t consume caffeine late in the day.
- Reduce irregular or long daytime naps.
- Take a good Magnesium supplement.
- Drink a Soothing Beverage like chamomile tea, which has been shown to promote sleep and relaxation.
- Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule.
5. Improve your diet
There are several studies suggesting that nutritional deficiencies can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to infections.
While deficiencies of most nutrients impair immune responses, a modest increase in the intake of some micronutrients may be associated with an enhancement of selected immune responses (10).
Eating healthy fresh food is necessary for good health and it can boost your immune system, yet you may still fall short of some needed nutrients. Also, many older adults aren’t getting enough nutrients from their diets. You can plug these nutritional imbalances through the use of appropriate supplements.
Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables
There is good evidence that increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet will have a positive effect on your immune function and inflammation markers.
Research shows that eating fruit and vegetables increases the production of T-cells and is associated with lower levels of C-Reactive Protein (a marker for inflammation) (11). In severe cases of coronavirus, the inflammatory response is exaggerated, attacking not just the virus, but also healthy tissue. Keeping inflammation levels low through following a healthy diet may offer some protection against the worst effects of the coronavirus.
Limiting dietary fat helps strengthen immune defenses. Research shows that oil may impair white blood cell function and that high-fat diets may alter the gut microbiota that aid in immunity (12,13). Also, maintaining a healthy weight can benefit the immune system, excess fat affects the immune system. Obesity has been linked to increased risk for influenza and other infections such as p