A bowl of berries.
The immune system helps coordinate your body’s defense against infectious viruses that can make you fall sick at best and lead to death at worst. These viruses include coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS and even the Covid-19 coronavirus that has been paralysing the world for months.
As the coronavirus crisis spreads across the United States, now is the time to keep your immune system up and running and prevent the virus from hitting you and others hard, with the following tips to help it stay healthy, courtesy of the News & Observer:
Health experts say that a strong immune system starts at the dinner table.
According to Orlando Health, a healthy gut is key in fighting off infections. The Orlando, Florida-based hospital system wrote on its website that adults should eat about five servings of fresh produce, with each serving roughly the size of a piece of fruit.
According to CNBC, doctors and dietitians recommend stocking up on the following foods that are packed with immunity-boosting vitamins and nutrients:
- Spinach – Rich in vitamins C and A
- Mushrooms – Packed with vitamin D that is normally gained through sun exposure
- Yogurt – Rich in immunity-supporting probiotics
- Red Bell Peppers – Packs nearly twice the vitamin C found in oranges, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Garlic – Packed with sulfur-containing compounds that can fight off infections
- Chickpeas – Rich in protein and zinc
- Broccoli – Rich in vitamins C and E
- Sunflower Seeds – A single ounce contains nearly half the recommended daily value of vitamin E, according to the National Institutes of Health
- Strawberries – One cup contains half the recommended daily value of vitamin C
Eating a healthy diet also applies if you are in self-quarantine, when you stay away from others after possible exposure to the virus, according to the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe).
“Limited access to fresh foods may lead to an increased consumption of highly processed foods, which tend to be high in fats, sugars and salt. Such changes in eating behavior could have a negative effect on the immune system,” WHO/Europe said.
Get Enough Sleep
According to AARP, getting enough sleep every night is another way to boost your immune system.
“Your immune system is like your computer — it needs moments of rest so it doesn’t become overheated,” Dr. Mark Moyad of the University of Michigan Medical Center told the organization, adding that sleep “reboots the system.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should sleep at least 7 hours each night.
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The New York Times and other websites reported that limiting stress is also important in boosting the immune system.
During the pandemic, the CDC recommends taking breaks from virus-related news, making healthy choices and talking only to those you trust if you are stressed.
Exercise, according to AARP, is another way of boosting your immune system.
Though gyms across the country are closed to help slow the virus’ spread, mandatory stay-at-home orders give you opportunities to stay fit on outdoor spaces.
Stay At Home If Sick
Stay at home if you have conditions that can compromise your immune system, which put you at higher risk of getting seriously sick with Covid-19. Some of those, the CDC said, include receiving cancer treatments and getting organ transplants.
Follow the Health Department’s latest updates on the Coronavirus (Covid-19), including the NICD’s prevention methods. Travellers from Covid-19 affected areas are advised to stay at home for up to 14 days. If you develop any symptoms contact your doctor or clinic, they will advise your next steps. For more information visit the National Institute for Communicable Diseases website or call 0800 029 999. Alternatively send HI to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp.
During this time, people across our country have offered to help through the Solidarity Response Fund. To assist or for more information visit https://www.solidarityfund.co.za/.