COVID-19: Ways to build your body’s natural defenses
As cases of coronavirus continue to rise, taking daily precautions such as washing your hands, social distancing, exercising and getting enough sleep is key to lowering risk of infection.
Strengthen your lungs
The important role your lungs play in keeping you strong and well is clearly defined. Like the rest of your body, your lungs need daily care and attention.
Breathing feeds oxygen to every cell in the body. Without sufficient oxygen, you are more prone to health problems.
Ordinary, everyday breathing isn’t enough to keep oxygen flowing through the body at peak levels. To help counteract the build-up of toxins in the lungs caused by environmental pollutants, allergens, dust and cigarette smoke, you need to help your lungs cleanse themselves.
Simple deep breathing
Deep breathing can help you get closer to reaching your lungs’ full capacity.
As you slowly inhale, consciously expand your belly with awareness of lowering the diaphragm. Next expand your ribs, allowing the floating ribs to open like wings. Finally, allow the upper chest to expand and lift.
After this, exhale as completely as possible by letting the chest fall, then contracting the ribs and, finally, bring the stomach muscles in and up to lift the diaphragm and expel the last bit of air.
Regular moderately intense activity is great for the lungs, and when you increase your daily activity you get healthy lungs, a healthier heart and a better mood.
Laughing is a great exercise to work the abdominal muscles and increase lung capacity. It also clears out your lungs by forcing enough stale air out that it allows fresh air to enter into more areas of the lung.
Regular moderately intense activity is great for the lungs, and when you increase your daily activity you get three things done at once: healthy lungs, a healthier heart and a better mood.
Aim for at least least 20 minutes of consistent, moderately intense movement daily, like a brisk walk..
Get enough sleep
Sleep and immunity are closely tied. Inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness.
If you get at least six hours each night, you are less likely to catch a cold than if you slept six hours or more each night.
Getting adequate rest strengthens your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness. Inadequate sleep may increase your risk of getting sick.
Eat more whole plant foods
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens.
The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels.
The fibre in plant foods feeds your gut microbiome, or the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract.
Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold.
Several whole plant foods contain antioxidants, fibre and vitamin C, all of which may lower your susceptibility to illness.
Engage in moderate exercise
Although prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can give it a boost.
Even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems.
What’s more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly
Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Hydration doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health.
Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness.
To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Water is recommended because it’s free of calories, additives, and sugar.
While tea and juice are also hydrating, it’s best to limit your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea because of their high sugar contents.
It’s easy to turn to supplements if you hear claims about their ability to treat or prevent COVID-19. However, there’s no evidence to support the use of any supplement to prevent or treat COVID-19.
But some supplements may strengthen your body’s general immune response. Taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduces the duration of colds but supplementing does not prevent the cold to begin with.
Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, but taking vitamin D when you already have adequate levels doesn’t provide extra benefits.
Supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduces the duration of the cold. Though some supplements may fight viral infections, none have been proven to be effective against COVID-19. If you decide to supplement, make sure to purchase products that have been validated.
You can make several lifestyle and dietary changes today to strengthen your immune system. These include reducing your sugar intake, staying hydrated, working out regularly, getting adequate sleep, and managing your stress levels.
Although none of the suggestions can prevent COVID-19, they may reinforce your body’s defenses against harmful pathogens.