The immune system′s fight against the coronavirus | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW

The immune system′s fight against the coronavirus | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW

  • April 8, 2020

How does our immune system react to the coronavirus?

The coronavirus is — like any other virus — not much more than a shell around genetic material and a few proteins. To replicate, it needs a host in the form of a living cell. Once infected, this cell does what the virus commands it to do: copy information, assemble it, release it.

But this does not go unnoticed. Within a few minutes, the body’s immune defense system intervenes with its innate response: Granulocytes, scavenger cells and killer cells from the blood and lymphatic system stream in to fight the virus. They are supported by numerous plasma proteins that either act as messengers or help to destroy the virus.

For many viruses and bacteria, this initial activity of the immune system is already sufficient to fight an intruder. It often happens very quickly and efficiently. We often notice only small signs that the system is working: We have a cold, a fever. 

Read more: Sepsis — a common cause of death from coronavirus

A sick man lying in bed with a thermometer in his mouth

Fever and feeling weak: This is how our immune system makes itself felt.

Interferons are a subgroup of signaling proteins that are normally secreted by infected cells. SARS-CoV-1, which was responsible for the SARS epidemic in 2003, appears to have suppressed the production of one of these interferons and thus at least delayed the attraction of immune cells. To what extent this is also the case with SARS-CoV-2, the name given to the coronavirus behind the current pandemic, is still unclear. However, interferons support the body’s own virus defense and are now being tested as a therapy in clinical trials.

At a certain point, however, the host response is so strong that its effect can be counterproductive. For example, numerous immune cells can enter our lungs and cause the membrane through which oxygen normally passes from the air into the blood to thicken. The exchange of gases is restricted, and in the worst case, ventilation may be necessary.

Sometimes the reaction can overshoot and be directed against healthy cells as well. This could also be the case with the novel coronavirus. So drugs are also being tested that suppress an excessive immune reaction and that are already known from the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The balance between protective and overly aggressive immune processes in dealing with the coronavirus is currently a big mystery. This must now be investigated, says Achim Hörauf, Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University of Bonn. 

Read more: World Health Day: What does the WHO do?

Infografik Abwehrsystem des Menschen EN

After a time delay, the acquired immune system finally sets itself in motion. It is different for every person and depends on what we have experienced and with which pathogens we have come into contact. While T cells help destroy infected cells, B cells form antibodies that can keep the virus in check. In the case of the coronavirus, these are neutralizing antibodies that bind to the spike protein of the virus. This is the site of attack of the virus, with which it enters the host, i.e. our human cell. Neutralizing antibodies specifically incapacitate the spike protein. Our immune system remembers the antibodies it has produced and is thus prepared for a new infection with the same intruder.

Is there an immunity? How long does it last?

The good news is that it is very likely there is an immunity. This is suggested by the proximity to other viruses, epidemiological data and animal experiments. Researchers infected four rhesus monkeys, a species close to humans, with SARS-CoV-2. The monkeys showed symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, developed neutralizing antibodies and recovered after a few days. When the recovered animals were reinfected with the virus, they no longer developed any symptoms: They were immune. 

Read more: What you need to know about the coronavirus

A rhesus monkey in India, looking out of a window

Rhesus monkey and humans share about 90% of their DNA

The bad news: It is not (yet) known how long the immunity will last. It depends on whether a patient has successfully developed neutralizing antibodies. Achim Hörauf estimates that the immunity should last at least one year. Within this year, every new contact with the virus acts as a kind of booster vaccination, which in turn might prolong the immunity.

“The virus is so new that nobody has a reasonable immune response,” says the immunologist. He believes that lifelong immunity is unlikely. This “privilege” is reserved for viruses that remain in the body for a long time and give our immune system a virtually permanent opportunity to get to know it. Since the coronavirus is an RNA (and not a DNA) virus, it cannot permanently settle in the body, says Hörauf.

The Heidelberg immunologist Stefan Meuer predicts that the novel coronavirus will also mutate like all viruses. He assumes that this could be the case in 10 to 15 years: “At some point, the acquired immunity will no longer be of any use to us because then another coronavirus will return, against which the protection that has now been formed will not help us because the virus has changed in such a way that the antibodies are no longer responsible. And then no vaccination will help either.”

How can we take advantage of the antibody response of the immune system?

Researchers are already collecting plasma from people who have successfully survived an infection with SARS-CoV-2 and are using it to treat a limited number of patients suffering from COVID-19. The underlying principle: passive immunization. The studies carried out to date have shown positive results, but they have usually been carried out on only a few people. 

Read more: Coronavirus: How do ventilators work?

A laboratory assistant handling probes

Research on antibodies is in high gear

At best, passive immunization is used only when the patient’s own immune system has already started to work against the virus, says Achim Hörauf: “The longer you can leave the patients alone with the infection before you protect them with passive immunization, the better.” Only through active immunization can one be protected in the long term. At the same time, it is difficult to recognize the right point in time.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are currently used to find out whether a person is infected with the coronavirus. With the help of PCR, it is not possible to tell whether or not there is reproducible viral RNA; it is just a proof of whether the virus is still present, dead or alive. A PCR test cannot tell us whether our immune system has already intervened, i.e. whether we have had contact with the virus in the past, have formed antibodies and are now protected. Researchers are therefore working on tests that check our blood for the presence of antibodies. They are already in use in Singapore, for example, and are nearing completion in the USA. With the help of these tests, it would finally be possible to gain an overview of the unclear case numbers. In addition, people who have developed antibodies against the virus could be used at the forefront of health care, for example. An “immunity passport” is even under discussion.

A PCR Lab at Bayer AG in Berlin

A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) laboratory

Is it possible to become infected and/or ill several times with the coronavirus?

“According to all we know, it is not possible with the same pathogen,” says Achim Hörauf. It is possible to become infected with other coronaviruses or viruses from the SARS or MERS group if their spike proteins look different. “As far as the current epidemic is concerned, it can be assumed that people who have been through COVID-19 will not become ill from it for the time being and will not transmit the virus any further,”  he says.

How long before you’re no longer contagious?

A study carried out on the first coronavirus patients in Germany showed that no viruses that are capable of replication can be found from day eight after the onset of symptoms, even though PCR can still detect up to 100,000 gene copies per sample. This could change the current quarantine recommendations in the future.

A doctor takes a sample from a car driver

Medical assistants need protection when testing suspected coronavirus patients

According to the Robert Koch Institute, patients can currently be discharged from hospital if they show two negative PCR samples from the throat within 24 hours. If they have had a severe case of the disease, they should remain in domestic isolation for another two weeks. For each discharge, whether from hospital or home isolation, they should have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

Why do people react differently to the virus?

While some people get off with a mild cold, others are put on ventilators or even die of SARS-Cov-2. Especially people with pre-existing conditions and older people seem to be worst-affected by the virus. Why? This is  the hottest question at the moment.

It will still take a very, very long time to understand the mechanistic, biological basis for why some people are so much more severely affected than others, virologist Angela Rasmussen told The Scientist. “The virus is important, but the host response is at least as important, if not more important,” her colleague Stanley Perlman told the magazine.

Stefan Meuer sees a fundamental survival principle of nature in the different equipment and activity of our immune systems: “If we were all the same, one and the same virus could wipe out the entire human species at once. Due to the genetic range, it is quite normal that some people die from a viral disease while others do not even notice it. “

Achim Hörauf also suspects immunological variants that could be genetically determined. Since interstitial pneumonia is observed with the coronavirus, the focus is probably on an overreaction of the immune system. However, it is also possible that each person affected may have been loaded with a different dose of the virus, which in turn leads to different outcomes. And finally, it makes a difference how robust the body and lungs are: Competitive athletes simply have more lung volume than long-time smokers. 

Health and Wellness: Boost Your Immune System

Health and Wellness: Boost Your Immune System

  • April 8, 2020

Confession:  This is not the article I had intended to write.

My article was going to be a straight-forward health and wellness “listicle” of ways to boost your immune system. 

For the last few days I’ve been brushing up on my knowledge of the immune system, activities and foods that help boost it and finding science-backed research so when I share the article you’d know I was telling the truth.

But I find myself distracted.

Here I am learning how garlic and honey  help the body defend itself against bacteria and viruses – but meanwhile, in the back of my mind, I’m worrying about my firstborn and her boyfriend in New Jersey contending with daily life in one of the hottest COVID-19 spots in the country.

Here I am learning how a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables help our bodies combat sickness because they have natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties. And yet I’m thinking about Washington, DC and how long COVID-19 will take to spread to my daughter and her wife who live in a city not far from there.

And again, I’m learning how getting enough sleep, exercise, and sunshine and reducing stress all contribute to a healthy immune system. But my thoughts are with my son in boot camp due to graduate a Marine at the end of May. And how we may not be able to see him on one of the most important, and proudest, days of his life.

And then comes the confirmation of the last bit of information that made me change direction with this article: green tea. Rich in antioxidants, green tea – just like all the other mentions in this article – help protect the body against sickness, viruses and infections.

And it dawned on me that what I should share with you is what some, maybe all, of us are really thinking about. No, not COVID-19.

LIFE.

How it has changed, how scary it has become, how more socially reliant we are on ‘community’ now even though we are practicing social distancing.

How the most important parts of life remain the same – but more appreciated than ever before.

And how, through all this surreal madness, that life should be like a good cup of coffee.  

We should look forward to it everyday

Even though our day looks different than it did a month ago, even though our day may be harder. Once in a while we get our cuppa from a new place and maybe it’s not as good or it’s a tad bitter.  We still power through it – perhaps, even, with a new appreciation of our normal cup of Joe. 

Life, like coffee, should propel us to action

Like caffeine surging through our veins, in life there’s inspiration and motivation. If you can’t find it on the news or social media, be it. Donate, shop for your neighborhood senior, make masks.

And, like coffee, life should promote community.

While we may not be able to hang out in the local cafe with our friends, we can still Facetime, Zoom, text, share fears as well as laughter, making sure to stay socially connected even while social distancing.  

The Takeaway

What I hope you takeaway from this read? Boost your immune system with the simple suggestions above but live your life like it’s a good cup of coffee.

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Be safe, be kind, be well.

Coronavirus: Experts say these supplements, foods may help keep immune system humming amid COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus: Experts say these supplements, foods may help keep immune system humming amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • April 8, 2020
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — With so many staying home during the coronavirus crisis, there are concerns about staying healthy. People are moving less, not working out in gyms and may not be keeping up with healthy habits. How can supplements help?

To keep your immune system humming, most experts say your best defense is to get vitamins and minerals through food. But that’s not always possible. So turning to herbs, adaptogens and other supplements may be a good option.

Nutritionist Elissa Goodman is a fan of monolaurin.

MORE: Nurse explains how easy it is to spread germs, even while wearing gloves

“It’s derived from coconuts. It’s lauric acid, which is a very strong antiviral,” Goodman said.

The compound is naturally found in breast milk and helps babies fight infection. Experts suggest taking it at the first sign of feeling bad.

And while getting your vitamin C through foods is optimal, there are reasons to up this vitamin when feeling ill.

“It’s known that the white blood cells need 1,000 times more dose of vitamin C to help support. So we’re not dosing for deficiency. It’s actually to promote an enzyme reaction in the body,” said functional medicine specialist Dr. Alexis Daniels of Vitality Labs.

Chinese medicine has long used mushrooms like Reishi, Chaga and others to support the immune system.
“For immunity purposes I really like Chaga, the king of all functional mushrooms. One cup of Chaga equals about 30 pounds of carrots in antioxidants,” said Tero Isokauppila, owner of Four Sigmatic.

MORE: Simple exercise tips to stay fit at home during coronavirus pandemic

Since many are powders and pills, they offer coffees, smoothies and cocoa beverages that contain mushrooms, adaptogens and other ingredients known to reduce inflammation and boost the microbiome.

Then there’s staying hydrated!

“There’s no amount of food you can eat or hand washing you can do if you’re not staying hydrated. When you don’t hydrate, micro-cracks can happen in your skin. Also your mucous membranes can get dried out. A lot of bacteria and viruses enter our body through our nose or mouth our eyes,” said Gelson’s dietitian Jessica Siegel.

And beyond supplements, there’s one more thing you can do to stay healthy: sleep!

“Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. is when your immune system is most active and your immune cells are scavenging for the bacteria and viruses, so sleep is definitely fundamental,” said Daniels.

Here’s the foods you should eat to give your immunity a boost

Eating the right foods can be your best defense when it comes to keeping your immune system in fighting shape.

“What we want to do is give our body the nutrients we need so that our main system functions optimally so we can stay healthy and fight off any bacteria or viruses that we come in contact with,” said Jessica Siegel, a dietitian with Gelson’s.

Siegel says start with a wide variety of produce -that’s where you’ll get the nutrients your body needs.

“So mushrooms can have vitamin D in them which is an added benefit,but there’s these large carbohydrate molecules called beta glucans. They have been shown to help balance the immune system and if it give you some extra support,” she said.

Then go beyond oranges for vitamin C foods: Brussels sprouts, kale, strawberries, cantaloupe and leafy greens.

Foods with bright orange color also help. Carrots, sweet potato, orange tomatoes oranges those foods have vitamin A and carotenoids that are really great for your immune system.

Look to olive oil and and seeds to get vitamin E. And while there’s no clear cut answer why chicken soup is good for you, studies indicate it may thin mucous membranes, rehydrate and replenish nutrients.

And as you cook – Goodman says add in more herbs.

“Nature’s medicine right here in a nutshell. They’re antivirals. All of these things right here: basil, thyme, rosemary, you’ve got sage. When I make soup I’m consistently adding herbs,” she said.

Goodman has a line of products that include healthy soups and salads.

“Soup is an easy way to absorb nutrients so your digestive system doesn’t have to work overtime. Those nutrients can get right into the bloodstream and right into the cells,” shes said.

Wellness instructor Pamela Salzman says: Be mindful about other things you might be doing that might have a negative effect on your immunity.

“One of the things that’s important to keep in mind you can’t chase your bad habits with good food and then think you’re going to be covered,” Salzman said.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Tips for boosting your immune system as coronavirus spreads

Tips for boosting your immune system as coronavirus spreads

  • April 7, 2020

Healthy immune systems can help ward off infections, health experts say.

As the coronavirus spreads across the United States, people may think about giving their bodies an extra boost.

Though no single measure is guaranteed to protect against COVID-19, some practices can help immune systems be strong, The New York Times reported.

Here are some to try at home.

Building a strong immune system can start at the dinner table, health experts say.

That’s because a healthy gut is key in the fight against infections, according to Orlando Health.

Adults should eat about five daily servings of produce, each one being roughly the size of a piece of fruit, the hospital system wrote on its website.

Doctors recommend eating spinach, mushrooms, strawberries and other foods packed with nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and D, according to CNBC.

The coronavirus has left some store shelves bare and restaurants with limited service.

But eating a healthy diet is important for people in self-quarantine, meaning they are away from others after possible exposure to the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

“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,” WHO said. “Such changes in eating behavior could have a negative effect on the immune system.”

Other tips to help your immune system

Getting enough sleep is another step toward a bolstered immune system, according to AARP.

“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. “Sleep reboots the system.”

Adults should sleep at least seven hours each night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While awake, limiting stress is also an important way to boost the immune system, The New York Times and other websites reported.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the CDC recommends people who are stressed take breaks from news about the virus, make healthy choices and talk to others they trust.

Another immune system boost can come from exercising, according to AARP. Health experts recommend working out in 30-minute sessions for five days a week.

Though gyms have closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, stay-at-home orders have allowed people to stay fit in outdoor spaces.

People with conditions that compromise their immune systems are at higher risk of getting seriously sick from the disease. Some of those conditions include receiving cancer treatments or getting organ transplants, according to the CDC.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.

Amid COVID-19 concerns, prioritize a healthy immune system

Amid COVID-19 concerns, prioritize a healthy immune system

  • April 7, 2020

With the COVID-19 virus on everyone’s mind, it makes sense to support healthy immune function. There are plenty of things we can all do in addition to washing our hands and practicing social distancing.

Common colds and the seasonal flu are still floating around right now as well, so staying healthy should be a priority. Although you might not be able to completely avoid getting sick, maintaining a resilient immune system may lessen the severity and duration of the illness.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

The following tips are natural ways to boost your immune system and overall health:

• Cut out offensive foods. Inflammation is a natural response to getting sick or injured. Your immune system sends inflammatory cells to the region they’re needed to attack and repair the compromised area. But, if you’re eating foods you’re intolerant to, your immune system may go on the attack every time you consume these foods. Besides causing added stress in the body, your immune system stays compromised for longer periods of time, which decreases the effectiveness of daily maintenance.

• Add more nutrients. Micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, magnesium, as well as vitamin C and vitamin D, all have immunity-boosting powers. Foods such as ginger, bee pollen and many fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which all aid in supporting a healthy immune system. Even adding lemon juice to your water can help alkalize the pH of your body and support healthy bacteria while making it difficult for acid-loving pathogens to thrive.

• Improve your sleep. We all know how important sleep is to our mental health, but our body uses this time to repair and recover from daily wear and tear. A lack of sleep can lead to immune system suppression by increasing inflammation and decreasing the amount of disease fighting cells in our bodies.

• Ensure proper detox. If your body isn’t eliminating everyday toxins from the food you eat or the air you breathe, you’ll have a hard time fighting off a bug. Proper detox begins with a healthy digestive system and adequate hydration sets the stage for efficient elimination. If you eat nonorganic meats or if you had a recent dose of antibiotics, it’s a good idea to supplement with a quality probiotic to restore gut flora. This will aid in efficient digestion and keep things moving along properly.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

• Maintain an exercise program. Exercise has numerous benefits, but one that is often overlooked is the ability of muscle contractions to help drain the lymphatic system. The lymph system is a channel for toxins to be excreted from the body and a pathway for immune cells to travel where they are needed. Consistent muscle contractions drive the healthy flow of the lymph system.

• Laugh and enjoy life. Obviously laughter seems to reduce stress in our lives, but it may also boost immune function. Studies have shown that laughter boosts natural killer cells that attack anything from infectious cells to tumor cells. Laughter will boost your body’s ability to destroy toxic cells and therefore lesson your chance for disease.

So take a few simple steps each day to give your immune system a fighting chance. For more health and nutrition tips, visit PushFitnessTraining.com for links to our blog and social media resources.

• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Boost your immune system with Alchemy of Herbs on Kindle for $2 (Reg. $25)

Boost your immune system with Alchemy of Herbs on Kindle for $2 (Reg. $25)

  • April 7, 2020

Amazon is now offering the Alchemy of Herbs Kindle eBook for $1.99. Also matched via Apple Books and at Barnes and Noble for Nook. Regularly as much as $25 at Amazon, today’s deal is a giant discount and the best we can find. Just for comparison sale, the paperback version sells for just over $19 right now. Alchemy of Herbs “will show you how to transform common ingredients into foods and remedies that heal.” It explores a number of natural herb snacks and drinks to boost your immune system, offer relief when sick, and provide recipes for “powerful antioxidant” drinks. This 4+ star rated natural herb cookbook features over 284-pages and carries best-seller status at Amazon. More details below.

Well, as usual with these $2 Kindle books, there really aren’t very many alternatives out there for less. But you can grab 2-months of Kindle Unlimited for free right here to access some of the natural herb cookbooks at no charge with a subscription, like the highly-rated Herbal Medicine for Beginners

We also still have America’s Test Kitchen Complete Cookbook for kids down at $2 on Kindle and here are your Amazon First Reads April eBook freebies. Amazon is also offering a number of notable deals on magazines and eBooks you can browse through right here. And while we are talking cooking, be sure to browse through our roundup of the best new cookbooks for this spring.

More on Alchemy of Herbs:

Alchemy of Herbs will show you how to transform common ingredients into foods and remedies that heal. What were once everyday flavorings will become your personal kitchen apothecary. While using herbs can often seem complicated or costly, this book offers a way to learn that’s as simple and inexpensive as cooking dinner. With the guidance of herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt, you’ll understand how to match the properties of each plant to your own unique needs, for a truly personalized approach to health for you and your family.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


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Should All "Essential" Workers Wear Face Masks in Ocean County

Should All “Essential” Workers Wear Face Masks in Ocean County

  • April 7, 2020

Essential, meaning grocery store employees, pharmacy employees, any business that deals with the public.

This means all employees you come in contact with from gas attendants, delivery personnel, any store that is essential and open during COVID-19. I know this seems a little excessive but it would protect the employee and the customer. I do see shields in some grocery stores between the employee and customer, that’s great, but I feel (just my opinion) face masks would be an also protection.

I just want to say “Thank YOU” to all the grocery employees that have to deal  with the public on a daily basis, please protect yourselves. You are appreciated.

What do you think? I had Home Depot delivery this past weekend, and the delivery men were wearing masks, I thought that’s very safe for them and me. I even said, “Thank you” for protecting yourself and me. I realize they’re hot and a little uncomfortable, but something to protect you and your customers would be so much safer.

Should all essential workers wear masks in Ocean County?

 

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

 

Coronavirus and health: What can you do to boost your immune system?

Coronavirus and health: What can you do to boost your immune system?

  • April 7, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — As the COVID-19 pandemic numbers keep climbing, people are asking if there’s more they can do to stay healthy, in addition to following public health recommendations.

“We are told 75% to 80% of us will at some time be exposed to this,” said Dr. Preston Wilson, a family practice provider at Jordan Family Health in West Jordan. “We need to prepare ourselves for when that happens.”

Can you boost your own immune system or improve your health enough to skate lightly through the public health crisis?

Looking at more than 200,000 cases worldwide has already shown that those most at risk are adults older than 60, people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease and those who have compromised immune systems, including anyone who had an organ transplant.

Experts tell the Deseret News that even those at high risk can do certain things to be as healthy as possible, not only during an infectious disease pandemic but in general. Patients should follow not just the basic advice, but tailored recommendations, too.

Wilson said patients still come in for care and admit they continue to smoke, though COVID-19 can be deadly as it can settle in the lungs. Others admit they haven’t changed their diets to control their diabetes.

“As much as we are concerned about this virus, I don’t know that we are doing everything we can to maximize our body’s ability to fight it when exposed to it,” said Wilson.

Could building your immune system and health really be as simple as sleeping, eating right, exercising, laughing and staying calm? Experts explain why each has value.

“Take this seriously,” said Wilson. “If you are healthy and strong and you are taking care of your body and maximizing its ability to fight infection, then you have a super high likelihood of recovering very well from this. “

Zzzzzzs please

Myriad studies have shown that sleep is needed for good health, but many people insist on treating it like a commodity they can skip when pressed for time.

Wilson said that sleep is the first thing that comes to mind when asked if it’s possible to strengthen one’s body and its immune system. That’s when the body recovers from the day.

“We know that our immune system gets depressed when we are limiting our sleep and don’t get enough,” he told the Deseret News. “By enough, I mean on average 7-8 hours for adults, and more for children, maybe.”

He’s not sure you can produce immunoglobulins better by getting more sleep. But he knows it’s important to a healthy life, both physically and mentally.

As close to raw form as possible

Food is more than fuel in Jennifer James’ book. The registered dietitian nutritionist and certified health coach at Ogden Regional Medical Center said healthy food choices are the raw materials that allow the body to build proteins, blood cells, immune system cells to fight infections and more. Vitamins and minerals run the chemical reactions that go into the cells, she added. For instance, cells have to have B vitamins to create energy.

The interaction of nutrition and the body is akin to building a house — a complex process that needs wiring and plumbing and foundation and framing work, among many other things.

The human body requires vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fluids — “all those things to keep the body functioning at top capacity.” Eating an unbalanced diet or one with a lot of processed food doesn’t provide what’s needed for the chemical reactions to take place or for the body to be able to build new white or red blood cells, soft tissue, heal wounds and keep the brain going strong. A diet of food as close to its raw form as possible can do all that fairly easily, she said.

There’s no one miracle food, she added. “I encourage people to do a whole-food diet, mostly plant-based, colorful foods you prepare from scratch.” It’s OK, though, to enjoy an occasional less-healthy treat.

“Don’t eat a bunch of garbage,” Wilson said. “What you put into your body determines what you get out of it.”

James suggests getting an app that tracks food intake and breaks down the vitamin and mineral content, among other things. She particularly recommends one called Chronometer.

A healthy laugh

Don’t lose your sense of humor in a crisis. The Mayo Clinic writes that laughter really does reduce stress, which has a cascade of smaller, immune-system-friendly benefits. A hearty laugh doesn’t just tickle your thoughts; it gives organs a burst of oxygen and releases endorphins in the your brain. Laughter varies your heart rate from fast to slow, which is good for you. And it helps your muscles relax.

Perhaps best of all, laughter and positivity can release stress-busting neuropeptides to counter the chemistry that negativity, stress and anxiety induce.

So yeah, this is a very challenging time. But appreciate its funny moments, too.

“The memes have been hysterical on the toilet paper hoarding,” James said. “Humor is wonderful.”

Calming and other mental health tricks

The greatest mental health need is finding some balance, Wilson said. “We know that people who suffer more from depression and anxiety seem to suffer more chronic disease. It may be that they are not sleeping well or not doing the things they need to do to stay healthy. “

Relaxing, which cuts stress, is critical. “When the stress hormones are elevated, that does not help our immune systems,” said James. She likens it to her experience pushing through finals in college, stressed to the max, then going home. “I was always sick at Christmas.”

She’s among experts who believe being worn out and stressed makes people an easy target for illness.

Meditation is being heralded worldwide for its mental health benefits, from lowering blood pressure and heart rate to perhaps improving memory and building the immune system. It takes about two months of doing it regularly — for as little as five minutes a day — to see results. There are free and paid apps to help, and people can choose where and when to do it. Some people like music, some a mantra, others a voice guiding them.

Everyone’s mind wanders while meditating, James said. Just pull it back to what you were focusing on and “do it consistently,” she said.

Some school districts (when class is in session) are embracing meditation as a way to help students focus and calm themselves and manage their stress.

To manage emotions in a healthy way, James suggests doing things one enjoys, like journaling or crafts or other things that provide a sense of peace and satisfaction.

Don’t stew over your emotions. Acknowledge them and let them pass, she said. “Pay attention to how you talk to yourself — positive and encouraging helps a lot.”

Get moving

Regular moderate exercise is very important. But don’t overdo it. Overstressing your body may weaken the immune system and make people vulnerable to illness, James said.

Besides being good physically, there are mental health benefits. A nature walk, for instance, is good all around.

Lots of gyms and other organizations are offering exercise routines online while people are social distancing during the pandemic. Older folks can find ideas from YouTube videos on the National Institute on Aging, AARP and other sources.

Be Sure To Clean Your Phone During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Be Sure To Clean Your Phone During The COVID-19 Pandemic

  • April 7, 2020

Of course we are all hopefully aware of the important things to do during the Coronavirus pandemic to help protect ourselves and others. From The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Clean your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect.

And when it comes to cleaning and  disinfecting, have you given any thought to your phone? According to healthline.com, the average person touches their phone over 2,600 times a day. So, given the possibility of one accidentally contaminating their phone by touching it with their hands that have been exposed to COVID-19, or by merely sitting your phone on an infected surface, it would be well advised to clean your phone. Their website has lots of good info on how to clean your phone and what products to use.

Get more information here from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and also here from healthline.com.

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

 

8 Foods That Can Boost Your Immunity

8 Foods That Can Boost Your Immunity

  • April 7, 2020

Broccoli, red peppers and turmeric can help support your immune system during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. News & World Report

8 Foods That Can Support Your Immunity

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

A healthy mix of fruit, vegetables, nuts and olives.

To support your immune system, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Consuming a balanced diet consisting of adequate protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals will help support your body’s immune system, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian in Philadelphia.

Eating a healthy diet that contains the nutrients you need is the best way to support your immunity. Supporting your immune system is particularly important during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit, and the rest of it with protein-rich foods, like eggs, chicken fish and beans and some whole grains like brown rice or oats,” she says.

Here are eight foods and food groups that can help support your immunity:

Raw Organic Almonds Photographed on a Piece of Burlap

Almonds

Unsalted almonds are one of the best things to keep around the house for a quick immune-boosting snack, says Anna Kippen, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic.

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which research suggests is important for maintaining the immune system, particularly as we get older. “This is because vitamin E is an antioxidant our immune system needs to function properly,” Kippen says.

The nut is also a good source of protein and healthy fat. “They can sit on the counter for a quick go-to snack and are so versatile,” she says. “I love throwing them into different recipes as a topping and using them instead of high-sugar granola with yogurt. My two favorite ways of snacking on nuts is pairing them with a small piece of fruit or dipping them into some delicious greater-than-72% dark chocolate or a healthy dessert.” (The percentage refers to the percentage of cacao in the chocolate. The higher the percentage, the greater the amount of antioxidants in the chocolate. A higher percentage of cacao also means a lower amount of sugar.)

To support your immune system, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Consuming a balanced diet consisting of adequate protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals will help support your body’s immune system, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian in Philadelphia.

Eating a healthy diet that contains the nutrients you need is the best way to support your immunity. Supporting your immune system is particularly important during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit, and the rest of it with protein-rich foods, like eggs, chicken fish and beans and some whole grains like brown rice or oats,” she says.

Here are eight foods and food groups that can help support your immunity:

Almonds

Unsalted almonds are one of the best things to keep around the house for a quick immune-boosting snack, says Anna Kippen, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic.

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which research suggests is important for maintaining the immune system, particularly as we get older. “This is because vitamin E is an antioxidant our immune system needs to function properly,” Kippen says.

The nut is also a good source of protein and healthy fat. “They can sit on the counter for a quick go-to snack and are so versatile,” she says. “I love throwing them into different recipes as a topping and using them instead of high-sugar granola with yogurt. My two favorite ways of snacking on nuts is pairing them with a small piece of fruit or dipping them into some delicious greater-than-72% dark chocolate or a healthy dessert.” (The percentage refers to the percentage of cacao in the chocolate. The higher the percentage, the greater the amount of antioxidants in the chocolate. A higher percentage of cacao also means a lower amount of sugar.)

Bell peppers

Kippen says bell peppers are one of her favorite immune-supporting foods, because they’re a great source of vitamin C. Bell peppers are also an excellent option for people who are trying to limit their carb consumption.

“One bell pepper on average provides us more vitamin C than our bodies need in a whole day,” she says. “They are rich sources of beta carotene and vitamin C, which is good for our immune system and our eye and skin health.”

Vitamin C is important for our body to form antibodies that will help it fight illnesses, Kippen says.

“I also love that bell peppers freeze so well,” Kippen says. “That can be helpful in the winter months or when we are doing our best to stay home.”

Broccoli

Broccoli is a great immune-boosting vegetable because it’s so rich in nutrients, Kippen says.

“It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E (and) potassium and has lots of healthy fiber, which makes it filling,” she says.

Broccoli is non-starchy so it’s a great option if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. Frozen broccoli is fine, just make sure the package you get is only broccoli and doesn’t include other ingredients, like cheese.

In addition to being highly nutritious, broccoli is extremely versatile. You can use it in stir fry dishes, soups, omelets, quiche or just topped with some spices and steamed. “It’s delicious and healthy,” she says.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are high in plant compounds that have health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help support your immunity, says Vanessa Spiller, a certified nutritionist based in Tysons Corner, Virginia. She’s also a coach with EMP180°, which provides weight-loss plans and customized coaching for people seeking to shed pounds and reach their health goals.

In addition to helping support your immune system, citrus fruits also contain many vitamins and minerals that help our bodies function properly, she says.

Here are six healthy citrus fruits:

  • Clementines.
  • Lemons.
  • Limes.
  • Oranges.
  • Grapefruit.
  • Pomelos.

Dark, leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens are good sources of beta carotene, which is associated with reducing inflammation and increasing disease-fighting cells, which help support your immunity, Jones says.

Since beta carotene converts to the fat-soluble vitamin A, it’s a good idea to pair dark, leafy greens with a healthy fat, like nuts, for best absorption.

Dark leafy greens include:

Garlic

“I almost never go a day without eating some delicious, immune-boosting garlic,” Kippen says. “In addition to being my favorite way to spice up any dish, it is also very healthy.”

Garlic contains compounds that naturally act to destroy bacteria and infection, which helps support your immune system. Research suggests that consuming garlic may help reduce the risk of becoming sick and staying ill.

It’s easy to incorporate garlic into your eating regimen. “I add garlic to steamed and roasted vegetables or to my chicken while it cooks to make it more savory,” Kippen says.

Pumpkin seeds

“These small but mighty seeds are a good source of zinc, a mineral crucial for immune cells to function and do their jobs properly,” says Maggie Michalczyk, a registered dietitian based in Chicago. She’s the author of “Once Upon a Pumpkin: 50 Creative Pumpkin Seasoned, Flavored, Shaped & Spiced Recipes.”

About 1.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds provide about 20% of your daily requirement for zinc, Michalczyk says.

Red peppers

“Did you know that red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruit?” Spiller says. Vitamin C supports your immune system by helping your body form antibodies to fight illness.

Roasted red peppers are highly versatile.

Here are four ways you can use roasted red peppers:

  • Folded into omelets or scrambled eggs.
  • In red pepper soup.
  • To top pizza or flatbread before baking.
  • With chicken, steak and shrimp fajitas.

To recap, here are eight foods and food groups that can help support your immunity:

  • Almonds.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Broccoli.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Dark, leafy greens.
  • Garlic.
  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Red peppers.
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