The World Health Organization declared Covid–19 or Coronavirus as a global pandemic. And while the countries are grappling with the upcoming dangers that this virus poses to humanity, there are some key measures that people can take to combat this pandemic.
While it is important to consider hygiene standards such as washing your hands frequently, in case you are unable to wash your hands then use an alcohol sanitizer, wearing a mask is a must (cover your nose and mouth), and also avoiding touching your hand or mouth, and maintaining the social distancing while going out. There are also specific methods to improve your immunity which are eminent in this crisis.
Individuals with particular pre-existing illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, respiratory issues, and cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk of having Covid 19 difficulties, it also intensifies with age as the general immunity reduces as you get older. In the younger generation with no such underlying illnesses, Covid 19 can occur in a minor infection, provided you have a robust immunity and do not involve in activities like smoking, etc to fight the attack of the virus.
Steps you can undertake to improve your immunity-
Improve Your Diet
The food you eat performs a key aspect in determining your overall health and immunity. A low-carb diet will aid in slowing down diabetes and focus on a protein-rich diet to keep you in good shape. And constantly consume fruits and vegetables that are rich in essential vitamins. Specific foods include mushrooms, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, broccoli, spinach, etc which are also good choices to build resilience in the body against infections.
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You can also add supplements rich in omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for your daily dose along with your basic diet if stepping out to buy groceries is not an option during social distancing. Some natural immunity supplements are ginger, gooseberries (amla), and turmeric. Certain herbs help in boosting immunity including garlic, basil leaves, and black cumin. Several seeds and nuts like sunflower seeds, Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and melon seeds are great sources of protein and vitamin E.
Probiotics such as Yoghurt, Yakult, and fermented food are also wonderful sources to rejuvenate the composition of gut bacteria, which is necessary for nutrient absorption by the body.
Don’t Compromise on Sleep
Taking proper sleep for 7-8 hours is the best way to help your body build immunity, lesser sleep will leave you tired and weaken your brain activity. The lack of sleep will hinder the body from resting and this will weaken other bodily functions that will have a direct impact on your immunity.
Hydration will help flush out the toxins from the body and lower the chances of infections. Drink up to around 8-10 glasses of water daily, to stay hydrated. Other alternatives like juices made of citrus fruits and coconut water are also beneficial.
Don’t Skip on Exercise
An exercise routine should be followed by a good diet. It is suggested to exercise for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your stamina. There are various Youtube channels and apps to help you in giving the instruction of exercise at home. Regular exercise improves your metabolism, which has a direct relationship with body immunity.
These are testing times, and a prolonged period of staying indoors may affect your mental wellbeing. The growing anxiety around the pandemic is another concern that is affecting many people across the globe. So, there are few steps you can follow regularly to help relieve your stress as stress is known to harm immunity-
- Practice meditation
Too much stress releases the hormone identified as cortisol, which weakens your response to immediate surroundings and makes your body sensitive to infections; you are left feeling uniformly anxious. The best approach to relieve stress is through meditation, it is a tried and tested activity to relax the nerves. There are many Youtube channels and apps to help you meditate at home.
- Avoid Smoking, alcohol, and other addictive substances
Certain habits like smoking, alcohol consumption, and substance abuse have a direct relationship between weakened body defenses and respiratory illnesses. Addiction of smoking is proven to weaken your lung capacity and damage the cells lining your respiratory tracts, these cells are essential to fight viruses that enter through your nasal orifices. There is new research claiming that people who engage in heavy alcohol consumption tend to suffer from ARDS (Acute Respiratory distress syndrome) which is considered as one of the conditions caused by Covid 19 infection. Practice moderation, if you are dependent on any of these, as immediate withdrawal can also prove to be risky.
Avoid all kinds of unnecessary travels and also avoid being exposed to the public transport system and public places. In case you have to travel, make sure to cover your nose and mouth with an effective mask and carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, at all times. Remember to sanitize your hands each time you touch a surface, as Covid 19 strain can stay on surfaces for a prolonged period. Use your non-dominant hand while accessing the handles and doorknobs as these may be frequently touched by many people.
Supplements and immunity boosting foods
While all the above-mentioned suggestions will help you, the need of the hour is a quick boost to your immunity system to keep it fit. If you are concerned about whether you are getting the appropriate amount of nutrients from your diet, consult with your doctor about a supplementation regimen to improve your immune system.
Given are some common supplements and superfoods that can help-
- Vitamin C
This particular vitamin is a significant participant in the army of immunity. It works as a powerful antioxidant and protects against damage caused by oxidative stress. It helps prevent the common cold and certain respiratory infections.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D supplements have also shown mild protective effects against respiratory tract infections. Most people have a deficiency in Vitamin D, so it is advisable to consult with a doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement to boost immune response.
Zinc is an essential component of white blood corpuscles which fights infections. Zinc deficiency often makes one more responsive to flu, cold, and other viral infections. It is advisable to take a zinc supplement, particularly for older people.
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Elderberries are plentiful in nutrients including minerals like potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper, and vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, and C, proteins, and dietary fibre. Elderberries have antibacterial and antiviral qualities which aid in fighting cold and influenza.
- Turmeric and Garlic
This specific spice, Turmeric, contains a compound called curcumin, which boosts immune function. Garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which improve body immunity.
The Indian health ministry is also suggesting few organic and natural ways to practice as preventive measures to fight COVID-19 apart from maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking supplements. The following self-care guidelines as preventive measures and to boost immunity with special reference to respiratory health has been recommended by the Ministry of AYUSH.
- Drink lukewarm water throughout the day.
- Practice Meditation, Yogasana, and Pranayama routinely.
- Increase the intake of Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander, and garlic in your diet.
- Drink herbal tea of Holy basil, Cinnamon, Black pepper, Dry Ginger, and Raisin.
- Avoid sugar and replace it with jaggery if required.
- To keep the nostrils clean, apply Ghee (clarified butter), Coconut oil, or Sesame oil in both nostrils.
- Inhale steam with Mint leaves and black cumin seeds.
While our health care workers are fighting the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, we can do our part by limiting our exposure to the virus by staying indoors, social distancing, hydrating, eating healthy, and following basic hygiene protocol.
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Q1 What are the symptoms of low immunity?
Ans The symptoms of a weakened immune system is frequent or chronic illnesses, including pinkeye, sinus infections, colds, or diarrhea.
Q2 How can you boost your immune system?
Ans Exercising and Healthy dieting are your two best sources when it comes to boosting up your immune system.
Q3 How does the immune system fight disease?
Ans The primary function of the immune system is to defend the body from pathogens, which are disease-causing organisms such as viruses and bacteria. Tissues, cells, and proteins in the immune system work together to achieve this function.