Let’s be clear: the only way to prevent the coronavirus contagion is via excessive hand washing and extreme social distancing. No amount of hot lemon water can stop this viral infection in its tracks once it’s made contact. However, our bodies’ responses can only be helped by a healthy immune system. Luckily, there is a wealth of information on how to balance our bodies’ defenses. If ever there was a time to focus on health and wellness, this is it, folks.
Hello, Immune System
Various cells, organs, proteins, and tissues join forces to target and neutralize pathogens in order to keep our immune systems in check. Instead of supplements, much of what our body needs should be sourced directly from foods with vitamins and nutrients that aid in immune response.
Vitamins & Nutrients
Micronutrients like zinc, selenium, iron, and vitamins A, C, D, E, B-6, and foliate are thought to help with immune response, reducing inflammation and tissue damage seen to damage and destroy lung function with the coronavirus.
Deficiency in Vitamin D, sourced mostly from sun to skin, can cause autoimmune conditions and increased risk of infection. If you are able, routinely soak in the sun each day. Considering all the rainfall lately, small amounts of Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, egg yolk, and meat.
Vitamin D can be supplemented as needed, at a daily dose of 10mcg.
A deficiency in B vitamins inhibits our body’s ability to defend against infection, by creating antibodies and white blood cells.
Vitamin B12 is found in fish, meat, and milk products. Vitamin B6 absorbs B12 to create red blood cells. B6 can be sourced from beef liver, chickpeas, salmon, rice, onions, and cereals.
Folic acid, or Vitamin B9, can be found in dark leafy greens, fruits, nuts, beans, seafood, eggs, and meat.
Forget about your daily dose of Emergen-C and get your fill of Vitamin C the old fashioned way. The simple act of eating one large orange aids in your body’s formation of collagen, helps heal wounds, and provides antioxidants. Vitamin C gets rid of free “radicals” or cell-damaging particles, tissue, and genetic material. Smoking depletes our bodies’ store of Vitamin C, so smokers may want to up the intake.
Look to plant oils, nuts, seeds, and oily fish for your daily fix of Omega 3 fatty acids EPA, DHA, and ALA. These go straight to the membranes that surround every cell in our bodies. Studies show Omega 3 boosts B-cell activity, a vital part of immune response.
Prebiotics & Probiotics
A healthy gut is key to a healthy immune response. Trillions of microorganisms live in the gut, where vast immune cells can be found. The gut microbiome communicates with these immune cells and controls the body’s response to infection. Look no further than yogurts, artisan cheeses, and fermented goods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, and kombucha.
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians reports that botanical medicines have been shown in research to fend off the flu, including licorice root, North American ginseng, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic. Along with zinc, Vitamin C, and probiotics, they recommend supplementing selenium and seaweed extract.
The AANP suggests using a humidifier to reduce virus survival and decrease transmission. For those fighting the flu or virus, they recommend Epsom salt baths to decrease inflammation and vegetable or chicken broth to replenish electrolytes.
It should come as no surprise that regular sleep, rest and relaxation, and exercise can reset our immune system. Be sure to incorporate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week. Then, take time to unwind, as chronic stress and fear can raise cortisol levels and suppress immunity.