Alice Chang | 2443 Words
Are you wondering what kind of food or supplement that could boost your immune system throughout the coronavirus pandemic?
Well, there is indeed something you can do. But before I share with you the 7 easy ways you can apply at home to improve your immune system, let me explain the myth about boosting the immune system. That is…
We cannot boost or increase our immune system!
The truth is, our immune system is a complex “system” that integrates various cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. It’s not designed to be “boosted”. To function well, the immune system requires balance and harmony.
So far, there is no scientific evidence that concluded our immune system can be boosted in any way. Even if we could, you wouldn’t want it to happen. Why? Because, if the immune system is overactive or too strong, it could lead to “autoimmune” conditions, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
So, what you should do instead is not increase, but support your immune system. If you’re healthy, your immune system will also be. Start with a healthy lifestyle is something you can do right away.
Now, think about your lifestyle during the Movement Control Order (MCO). How does it look since then? What did you eat? How about your sleep? What have you done?
Do you think you are having a healthy lifestyle?
Many people feel stressed so they eat junk food more than usual. Some people started staying up late and waking up at noon. Or sit in front of the computer and TV all day without lifting a finger…
That’s why I want to give you these 7 easy ways to apply during your MCO period or even for your whole life.
1. Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Keeping healthy sleep hygiene helps our immune system function well. One study showed the immune system of those with insomnia has a lower response to the influenza vaccine. And the other one found that after being exposed to a virus, those who sleep less than 7 hours a day have three times more chances to develop a cold than those who get 8 hours or more.
So how can you get good sleep and how long it should be?
There are several factors that could influence your sleeping quality. But there are some certain points I want to address because of COVID-19.
Stick With Your Regular Sleep Routine.
Do you still go to bed and wake up at the same time as usual? According to Harvard Medical School, a regular sleep schedule keeps the circadian sleep or wake cycle synchronised.
People with the most regular sleep habits have the fewest problems with insomnia and the least depression. Many people have developed an irregular sleep pattern since the quarantine started.
If that’s you, it’s time to turn your current sleep schedule back to normal.
8- 9-10 Adults. Teens. Kids.
Sleeping less than 7 hours a day may weaken our immune system, but sleeping too much will also impact our health. For adults, sleeping more than 10 hours a night is considered to be oversleeping. It can lead to headaches, obesity or diabetes.
How long people should sleep depends on each person’s condition, it can vary. Here is information from HelpGuide where I grouped 3 types of people based on age.
The amount of sleep required decreases with age. Usually, the best amount for adults is 7 to 9 hours, for teenagers, it is 9 to 11 hours and for children, it is 10 hours or more per day.
Put Away Your Phone Before Sleep.
You feel so relaxed lying on your bed while browsing with your phone… I get it. But the truth is, It may give you a bad night.
Base on the research in PNAS, using a mobile phone, kindle e-book or any light-emitting electronic devices may not only delay the time you fall asleep but also make you experience a light sleep and even reduces your focus the next day.
Most people already know that using electronic devices can affect their sleep, but they aren’t really aware of it. This vague idea keeps them behaving the same way.
Put away your phone from your bed. Try it for one week and you’ll see the difference.
2. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
Some people turn to use cigarettes or take up drinking when they are under huge pressure. It’s understandable, we all need to handle our stress to go through tough times.
But when we can only rely on our immune system to defend ourselves from this deadly virus, these habits should be changed. Alcohol disrupts immunity pathways that can weaken the body’s ability to fight against infection. Needless to say, smokers have more risk of catching infections and tend to suffer more aggressive complications from infectious diseases.
We already have enough reasons to quit smoking and drinking. This time, if the coronavirus cannot motivate you to stop doing these bad habits, maybe it’s a good idea for you to learn how to manage your stress first.
3. Manage Your Stress
We all want to get rid of stress as soon as we can, and it’s also necessary. Chronic stress can suppress the immune system.
Maybe you’re worried about the stability of your job, stressed out because of the stock market. Or anxious about not having enough toilet paper. These uncertainties may raise your cortisol production which reduces immunity.
Although the situation is frustrating, there are some tactics you can practice to handle your emotions. Some of them will actually set you up for the rest of your life. Here are two of my favorite.
Meditation is a process that allows our mind and body to rest deeply. People who practice it will feel like their body and mind just got a reset. That’s why they can usually focus more, be relaxed and joyful.
Many successful people have the habit of meditating, Bill Gates and Michael Jordan for example. There’s a section in a recent article written by coach Racheal, mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety and depression. Even by simply listening to music or blowing bubbles.
If you’ve never meditated before, watch this video. This only takes a few minutes, it might be a good start.
Have you ever noticed how your breath is when you are nervous? That’s right, short and fast. And when you feel extremely anxious, you’ll automatically take a deep breath to ease the tension.
When we’re experiencing extreme emotion, our body will automatically react in certain ways to protect us from reaching a breakdown. Breathing is one of them. Luckily, we can control our breath to control our stress.
There are many breathing practices you can learn from. If you’ve never done it before, you can test the waters by trying “belly breathing”.
4. Nutritious Diet
Before we dive into this topic, I have a question for you.
How much “comfort food” have you had since the MCO period started? If your answer makes you feel a bit guilty, it’s time to change.
Despite quitting junks, what kind of food can support immunity?
Well, the answer may surprise you. There isn’t enough evidence of one specific food that can improve the immune system. However, inadequate nutrition will impair the functioning of the immune system and raise your susceptibility to infection.
So a balanced diet is key. No matter what, your body still needs various types of nutritional elements to support its wellbeing. Make sure everything is on your plate and communicate with your little one if he or she is picky with their food.
5. The Truth Of Supplements
Taking vitamin C prevents you from getting a cold? Wrong! The truth is, not a single supplement can help us prevent catching a cold.
Unless you are nutrition deficient, you won’t get any benefit from those supplements. But some of them could ease those uncomfortable symptoms and support us to recover faster from sickness. Such as…
If you’ve ever felt you’ve gotten over a cold faster by taking vitamin C, you are right!
Vitamin C is highly concentrated in our immune cells and consumed rapidly during an infection. So if you take vitamin C when you have a cold, it means that you replenish your immune system immediately from the vitamin that was depleted. It could help you reduce the severity and duration.
For most people, it’s unlikely to have a lack of vitamin C. Simply because it can be found in most of the food we have every day, especially fruit and vegetables. Such as oranges, kiwis, broccoli.
But you will probably want to take vitamin C supplements if you are a smoker or in a delicate situation. Make sure to not take too much of it because it can increase the risk of getting kidney stones. National Academy of Medicine recommends no more than 2000mg a day.
Lacking zinc affects the activity of the immune system. It supports our immunity to resist infection, reduce the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases. A study even suggests that taking zinc supplements within 24 hours after getting a cold reduces its symptoms and duration.
Zinc can be easily found in our daily meals. Such as whole grains, meat, and seafood.
Turmeric has become very popular again because of COVID-19. But does it really help with our immunity?
Yes, it does. Turmeric contains a lot of curcumin, which is able to enhance the transmission of immune cytokines to modulate infections and even cancer.
It’s enjoyable to add some turmeric to your rice or have some curry with it anyway. Even if you want to take some supplements, it won’t be harmful in most cases. But if you have a medical condition, especially associated with your liver or you are taking blood thinners, you should discuss it with your doctor first.
Based on one result of this study, garlic supplements are able to reduce the risk of contracting hospital infections in ICUs. However, the researcher also mentions that this study still needs more cases to prove its theory.
But no matter what, garlic is an extremely common herb in our kitchen. It usually plays one of the main roles in our daily meals- to make our food more pungent and tasty. For now, let’s enjoy it rather than analyzing its effectiveness.
As long as you are healthy and have a rich diet, you shouldn’t worry about vitamin or mineral deficiency except for vitamin D.
Vitamin D is widely known to strengthen the bones by improving calcium absorption. But not many people know that it’s also crucial in cell growth, neuromuscular, immune functions and a reduction of inflammation. However, it’s rarely contained in our food.
The best way to get it is by exposing our skin to sunlight, let it touch your skin to trigger vitamin D synthesis. That’s probably the main reason why about 50% of the population worldwide are vitamin D deficient. Needless to say, we are mostly indoor because of the quarantine period.
The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies suggests 400–800 IU, or 10–20 micrograms best suited to 97%-98% of healthy people. But some research recommends a higher intake for those who don’t expose themselves to the sun.
If you want to take some vitamin D supplements, consulting with your doctor in advance might be a good choice. Otherwise, you could do a 15-minute sunbath every day.
6. Have A 15-Min Sunbath
I know you can’t leave your house right now. You’re probably spending most, if not all, of the time indoors because of the Movement Control Order period. That’s why I want to emphasize the importance of getting sunlight. Besides letting your skin produce vitamin D, it can also give you a better mood.
Go to your garden or balcony while the sun is at its strongest and expose 40% of your skin. Spend 3 to 15 minutes if you have light skin and 15–30 minutes if your skin is darker. Do it without sunscreen but of course, don’t get a sunburn.
7. Home Exercise
Are you letting your screen dominate you? Even when you can only stay at home, keeping regular exercise habits is still essential.
Frequent exercise can improve immune regulation and delay the aging of the immune system. However, athletes who are trained intensively seem to suffer more infections. This means, it’s definitely not the time to do any hard training, but it’s the time to keep or develop a habit of exercising for your wellbeing. No matter what, stay active.
Here are some suggestions about the kind of exercise you can do at home.
Practicing yoga may balance your immunity and benefits those who are already suffering from diseases with an inflammatory component. If you are new to it, you can warm up with the easiest level of yoga.
You might be thinking… How can I walk fast if I can’t leave my home? Well, I personally know two people who don’t have the time and space to do it but they still do so. Let me explain how they do it.
One of them was taking advantage every time he went out to work, he just walked super-fast to exercise. The other one is walking in his small patio for 30 minutes every day.
Take advantage of the small space you have at home or the time you spend to purchase your daily supplies.
Having some fun with your children can also provide an atmosphere of positivity for your family. One of our swimming coaches, Racheal Tan has some suggestions about family fitness activities. Especially when you’re stuck at home and wondering what to do. Click here to find out.
What Kind of Life do You Want?
Taking care of your body is your duty. Maintaining your immune system shouldn’t be your short term goal either.
The COVID-19 Pandemic fires up our awareness about keeping good health. But the point is nothing about the coronavirus, it’s about what kind of life you want to live.
Things will pass, after that, what do you want to do? Do you want to give up the healthy habits you’ve built? Or you will keep them for life?
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I’m a copywriter certified from copywriters.com. Besides SEO content writing, I specialised in social media ads, landing pages, and email marketing.
When I’m not in front of my desk, you can find me walking in the park and enjoy the sunlight while watching dogs playing. Drop a note to say hi on my profile.
Disclaimer: The information we provide at Global Swim Mobile is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional. By interacting with this site, you agree to our disclaimer. This article is being written from experience and medical research. The author is NOT from any psychological background nor a certified psychiatrist.