Keep Your Immunity Up Through the End of the Pandemic
If the past year has taught you anything, it should be that there is no end to the benefits of a healthy immune system. Once infected with the coronavirus, your body could manifest horrific symptoms of COVID-19 leading to a hospital stay and long-term impacts on your health…
How to Keep Your Immunity Up
Or your body could be able to fight off the virus with little or no effect on your daily life, and the strength of your immune system has been one of the most important factors determining your outcome during the course of this pandemic.
Unfortunately, boosting your immune system isn’t always as easy as taking a pill. Though supplements for immune support can be beneficial, larger-scale changes to your lifestyle can have a greater impact on your body’s ability to fight disease.
Here are some ideas to keep your immunity up and stay safe from the most serious effects of COVID-19.
One of the most devastating effects of the workaholic aspect of American culture is the celebration of de-prioritizing sleep and the lack of resources for seeking sufficient sleep.
Sleep isn’t a waste of time; it is an incredibly important process the body requires to function properly at every level. Every system benefits from those eight hours of rest per night — but the immune system is particularly affected when the body isn’t allowed to rest.
While you are asleep, your immune system releases a type of protein called cytokines, which help keep you asleep and work to counteract infection, inflammation and stress. Unfortunately, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t produce enough cytokines, so it is less prepared to respond appropriately when invaded by viruses.
The best thing you can do to boost your immunity at the end of the pandemic is give yourself plenty of time to sleep every night, which for most adults is between seven and eight hours.
Reduce Your Stress
Stress is a subjective experience, so it is incredibly difficult for researchers to understand in full. A stressful situation for one person might not be that worrisome for another, so developing a study methodology for stress can be challenging.
Often, researchers must base findings on subjective descriptions of participant stress levels, which aren’t always them most useful tools.
Even so, scientists are developing a clearer picture of the relationship between stress and immunity. In short bursts, the stress hormone called cortisol helps the body devote energy to systems more likely to be useful in fight-or-flight scenarios, like the cardiovascular system and the muscular system.
As a result, less immediately useful systems are put on hold — to include the immune system.
Unfortunately, chronic stress seems to have the same effect, except for a prolonged period of time, leaving the entire body much weaker and more susceptible to injury and disease.
If you haven’t already, you should search for ways to reduce your stress as much as possible. If you haven’t taken a vacation since the start of the pandemic, you might use some PTO for a week-long staycation.
Alternatively, you might give yourself more time to clean and tidy your home or participate in other self-care activities that improve your mood and eliminate your stress.
Eat Whole Foods
It is easier than ever to eat junk foods thanks to services like DoorDash, but doing so could make you more likely to come down with a serious case of COVID-19. Fast food and unhealthy snack foods like cookies and chips typically don’t contain many nutrients the body can use to fuel the immune system.
Deficiencies of micronutrients like zinc, iron, folate and various vitamins weaken immune responses, and high doses of sodium and sugar can actually inhibit immune function entirely.
Thus, you should ensure that your diet is derived primarily from whole foods, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t have the mental or physical energy to cook whole foods at home, you should at least order from more health-conscious establishments — and those that are locally owned and operated, while you’re at it.
Even as the threat of COVID-19 wanes — thanks to successful public health efforts, to include vaccination — you should strive to make healthy lifestyle choices to defend your body against all viral and bacterial threats.
In addition to whatever supplements you see fit to take, you should always strive to sleep better, eat better and stress less to keep your immune system in the best possible shape.