Hey everyone. Days are getting shorter and colder, and flu and cold season is reaching their peak. With the pandemic still going on, its more important than ever to boost your immune system. Here are some things that you can do to boost your immune system during COVID-19 and winter in general.
As we enter the colder months, we expect risks to COVID-19 and even Flu to be worse before it gets better. Even with the vaccines, I believe it’s our responsibility to do our part in preventing any further spread as well as minimize our risks.
Wear a mask: While I don’t believe in living in fear, I do believe that we must be sensible and smart when it comes to living in our current conditions. When out and about in public places, always wear a mask to protect yourself.
Hand washing: This goes without saying that even without the pandemic, we should practice self-hygiene by washing our hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of unnecessary viruses and bacteria. Use antibacterial soap and rub your hands under the fingernails, and tips, for 20 seconds before rinsing. In the public restrooms, use a paper towel to grab the door knobs. Also at gas stations, always use hand sanitizer after pumping gas.
Hand sanitizer: Handwashing with soap and water is the best way to reduce exposure to germs, but not able, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can help to reduce the spread of infection. Note: avoid any products containing triclosan, a known hormone-disrupting chemical.
Covering your mouth and nose: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your bare hands.
Not touching your face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, which can help provide the virus with a route of entry into the body. Since the average individual touches their face an average of 15 times per hour, remain vigilant!
Keeping surfaces clean: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Surfaces to consider include doorknobs, phones, computer keyboards, remotes and other surfaces that are frequently touched in rooms such as the bathroom and kitchen.
Stress management: Chronic stress can negatively alter immune system responses putting you at greater risk. Practice breathing, meditation or Yoga to modulate stress in any way you can.
Sleep: Sleep has a big influence on the immune system. Get in the habit of getting plenty of sleep by maintaining consistent sleep patterns and rituals. Turn off electronics, shut off all TV, make sure not to eat too close to sleep time as this interferes with sleep, and take a melatonin supplement to help if you have difficulty sleeping.
Exercise: Moderate, regular physical activity helps to boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation and decreasing stress hormones. Yoga is especially helpful to keep physically resilient and cognitively sharp.
Food: Eat a diet rich in colorful vegetables and fruits with health organic protein sources. Research proves the benefit of a vegetable-rich diet in helping to boost the immune system, which in turn helps boost your immune system during COVID-19 and in general.
Natural Ways to Boost Immunity
Most over-the-counter medications only treat the symptoms of viral infections; most don’t actually help the immune system fight the infection. The following are some natural ways to help you to fend off the sickness if you do come down with an illness:
Self-care: When down with the flu, your priorities are hydration and plenty rest. Drink plenty of fluids; homemade vegetable or bone broths are also extremely beneficial. Various herbal teas/hot drinks can help with hydration and reducing symptoms; good choices include peppermint, ginger, eucalyptus, chamomile and hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon.
Sore throats: Salt water gargles are excellent for loosening mucus and helping fend off bacterial throat infections. Hot teas and lozenges containing slippery elm are excellent for soothing irritated sore throats. Two tablespoons of honey in hot water can also help to soothe and decrease throat inflammation and pain. Chamomile and peppermint teas are also helpful for soothing irritated sore throats.
Respiratory congestion & sinuses: For respiratory congestion, it’s helpful to use a humidifier, vaporizers or steam inhalers, or spend time in steamy baths or showers. Vaporizers and inhalers can also be used with decongestants or essential oils such as eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint or frankincense.
Supplements and Foods to Support Immune Function
Following supplements can help to fight off infection as well as to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of the infection.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C may help to prevent infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses. Regularly administered Vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of colds. Higher doses of Vitamin C during an illness can boost immune function.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Numerous studies have shown that it helps reduce the risk of colds and flu. And a large percentage of the population are deficient, so daily supplementation is necessary for most people.
Vitamin A: For those with respiratory infection, Vitamin A can be helpful
Foods and Supplements
Zinc: Zinc plays a significant role in boosting immunity. Often available as lozenges, zinc can help to reduce the frequency of infections as well as the duration and severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.
Selenium: Selenium, a key nutrient for immune function, is also an antioxidant that helps boost the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. You can take the supplement, or eat brazil nuts, which have a high selenium content.
Honey: Honey, preferably raw, has antioxidant properties and some antimicrobial effects. It is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to hot tea.
Garlic: Garlic contains a variety of compounds that can influence immunity. Some studies have shown that both fresh garlic as well as aged garlic extract and some other garlic supplements may reduce viral upper respiratory infection severity. The only thing is the smell of garlic will seep out of the pores when ingested in large amounts.
Probiotics: Probiotics contain “good bacteria” that not only support the health of the gut but also influence immune system functioning and regulation.
To learn more about how to boost your immune system during COVID-19 and in general, join our FREE private Facebook group, the Tribe of Autoimmune Health Rebels.
* This document is only intended to identify modalities that may boost your immune system. It is not meant to recommend any treatments, nor have any of these modalities been proven effective against coronavirus. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider prior to using any of these modalities. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
This article was adapted from the Institute of Functional Medicine. Visit the page here:https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/boosting-immunity-functional-medicine-tips-prevention-immunity-boosting-covid-19-coronavirus-outbreak/