As coronavirus COVID-19 cases climb past 1.3 million across the globe, there is no better time to seek immunity boosters for optimal health.
With no current vaccine available for the novel coronavirus, one of the best ways to avoid the virus, or limit its severity, is to maintain a healthy lifestyle while also practising sufficient hygiene.
“With COVID-19, we’re still learning a lot about this,” Dr Todd Ellerin from South Shore Health explained in Living Better, Living Longer podcast by Harvard Health Publishing. “What’s important to know … while this is a highly contagious respiratory virus, mortality is low, meaning most cases are mild, and I want to drive that point home.
“Just like influenza A for example, COVID-19 tends to target the elderly and those who are immune compromised – a weakened immune system.”
From topping up on vitamin C to drinking bountiful amounts of water, here are some of the best immunity boosters for optimal strength during the coronavirus pandemic.
Benefit: Boosts immune function
Where to find it: Supplements, meat, shellfish, legumes and seeds
Enhancing your immune function and keeping your heart and eyes healthy are just some of the ways zinc makes a positive difference to your body.
Research has shown that zinc is an optimal immunity booster that aids immune function by building immune system cells called T lymphocytes and fights inflammation.
“Zinc is a nutrient that plays a vital role in immune system response, wound healing, synthesising proteins and DNA, and many other bodily functions,” Medical News Today reports.
Benefit: Improves resistance against disease
Where to find it: Sunshine encourages natural production and it can be found in food sources including salmon, sardines and egg yolks.
While the coronavirus is not a typical flu, there have been studies that show vitamin D helps reduce the likelihood of developing influenza.
Research has also found vitamin D plays a vital role in improving resistance against disease while strengthening immune systems.
Benefit: Keeps immune system strong
How to improve it: Use magnesium supplements to encourage deeper sleep.
It may be a no-brainer, but getting plentiful amounts of shut-eye is important in keeping your immune system strong and possibly keeping the virus at bay.
Ensuring you have seven to eight hours of solid sleep will put you at less risk of contracting an illness.
“While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to a bad cold or a case of the flu,” the National Sleep Foundation reports.
Limit sugar and alcohol intake
Benefit: Too much sugar reduces immunity
How to avoid it: Choose fruit for a natural sweet hit.
Avoiding alcohol and excessive amounts of sugar are easy immunity boosters as indulging in too many addictive treats suppresses immune system cells that fight bacteria.
The WHO recommends an average adult’s added daily sugar consumption (not including sugar found in fresh fruit or vegetables) should be no more than 50g or 10 teaspoons.
“The effects of added sugar intake – higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease – are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke,” Dr Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told Havard Health Publishing .
Not only will limiting your sugar intake strengthen your immune system, it will help increase your energy levels, reduce your risk of diabetes and increase your heart health.
Benefit: Helps fight illness
How to eat it: Cooked or raw – you choose.
Not only is it a delicious addition to many meals, but the humble little vegetable fights off illness and viruses.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which converts to sulphur-containing compounds that boost the disease-fighting responses of white blood cells.
The natural medicine has been found to lower the risk of getting a cold or flu as well as shortening the duration of the illness.
Improve gut health
Benefit: Supporting immunity
How to sustain it: Fermented food and probiotics
With about 70% of your immune system living in your gut, sustaining optimal gut health is an important key to staying healthy.
Fermented vegetables, kombucha, miso and probiotics all promote efficient gut health – a function incredibly important during the pandemic.
“Our immune system has co-evolved along with a diverse gut flora, not only to create defences against pathogens, but also to develop tolerance for beneficial microbes,” Neurohacker Collective reported. “As a consequence, the immune system and the gut microbiota developed a mutualistic relationship, regulating one another and cooperating to support each other.
“The importance of this interaction is clearly highlighted by the fact that 70-80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut.”
Other ways to enhance gut health is by including immunity boosters such as asparagus, banana, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onion and whole grains to your diet while avoiding sugar.
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