How to Boost Your Immune System

Although there is no magic bullet to protect against Covid-19, your immune system can be a strong defender fighting off the coronavirus from invading your body. You have the power to help your immune system stand guard against the coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses. Choosing a healthy lifestyle and staying at home can be your first line of defense. These are things you can do right now to give your immune system a boost. Some defenses you will build over time. Others are weapons you can take up today. Here’s how to make your immune system stronger.

Don’t smoke.

Heavy smokers are not the only ones who suffer from poor health. Almost one-quarter of smokers only indulge occasionally or have a few cigarettes a day, but they also are at risk for respiratory tract infections. There’s a long list of health hazards linked to light and intermittent smoking: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as bronchitis or emphysema, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and breast cancer. The Harvard Medical School says even occasional smoking puts women at a 500 percent increase for lung cancer.

Avoid drinking alcohol excessively. 

Consuming too much alcohol can impair the mucosal immune system, which plays an essential role in helping the body fight infection. Recovering from infection then takes longer. Drinking excessively can damage the lungs and leave you more susceptible to respiratory illness and pneumonia.

Get enough vitamin D.

You may want to ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level and talk about whether you should take a supplement. There are antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria, and your body won’t be as effective at producing those proteins if you don’t have enough vitamin D. The lack of vitamin D can make you more susceptible to infection.

Focus on eating fruits and vegetables. Skip the supplements.

While eating a healthy diet is important in keeping your immune system strong, there’s little evidence to prove any one food or supplement will do the trick. Small studies suggest some foods may help, so go ahead if you want and dine on turmeric, ginger, and citrus fruits, sprinkle on oregano oil and sip bone broth. Just don’t forget to eat a lot of other healthful fruits and vegetables.

Try not to stress out. 

These are stressful times for everyone. Increasing stress can leave you more susceptible to respiratory ailments, while bringing your stress level down can help your body fight off illness. Check out techniques such as meditation and controlled breathing that will help you manage stress. Think about consulting a therapist virtually.

Get some sleep.

Take advantage of a good night’s sleep and aim for six to eight hours of shuteye to strengthen your immune system. One study that deliberately exposed volunteers to the cold virus found those who got fewer than six hours of sleep every night were 4.2 times more likely to get sick. Sleeping less than five hours put the volunteers at even high risk of catching a cold. Those who resisted best were volunteers who slept more than seven hours.

Adopt good habits such as a regular schedule of going to bed and getting up. Abandon bad habits such as eating at night, exercising just before bed and staying up to read your digital devices.

Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise is not only safe but, in fact, will probably reduce the risk of an infection, says a professor of health science. Keep in mind that now is not the time to overdo with a strenuous and tiring new workout if you have not been exercising. Moderation would be a good idea if you’re just starting to get off the couch.

And, of course, wash your hands.

You’re already washing your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food, right? Making it a habit after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing? Keep up the good work, but also do your best to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue! Also wash your hands after feeding or petting your pet.

Lather up with soap and rub cleanser into the backs of your hands and wrists as well as the tips of your fingers for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget your thumbs. Clean under your nails and between your fingers. Rinse under warm running water.