These are crazy times. In a matter of just a few months, the world has been completely turned upside down. But we don’t have to live in constant fear of this virus. We do, however, need to make our health our first priority. In the following guide, we’ll go over how to boost your immune system for COVID-19 and for a healthy life in general.
COVID-19: What is it?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease which is caused by a recently-discovered coronavirus. It was first found in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
Coronaviruses are RNA viruses which typically result in respiratory infections that can cause flu-like symptoms. There are hundreds of coronaviruses in total. Aside from COVID-19, other well-known ones include SARS and MERS.
In regards to COVID-19 in particular, suspicion is mounting that it may be a manmade virus that accidentally leaked from a laboratory. But regardless of who’s responsible, the fact is that it’s all over the world right now. We simply have no choice but to deal with it.
The common symptoms of COVID-19 include a dry cough, achiness, shortness of breath and fever. But the severity of the symptoms can vary from person to person. In more severe cases, people may develop pneumonia. And regardless of severity, many of those infected have reported a loss of taste and smell.
It can take up to two weeks before any symptoms develop, which is why many people are unaware they have it. And oftentimes, no symptoms end up developing at all!
While this is, of course, a good thing, asymptomatic people can still spread the virus. That’s why we need to be extra mindful at all times these days – especially when around those who could be especially vulnerable to the virus.
Generally speaking, those most at risk from COVID-19 are people who are most at risk from other diseases: the elderly, the obese and the immunocompromised.
But there are also reports in the media that more and more people in their 20’s and 30’s are succumbing to this virus. These people are often described as “healthy,” but perhaps we should take such reports with a grain of salt.
Someone who eats nothing but processed foods, for example, will likely be labelled as “healthy” provided they have yet to develop cancer or diabetes. But could we call a heavy smoker healthy just because he or she is currently cancer-free?
It seems as if the Wuhan virus acts as a catalyst for potential health complications that were bound to arise eventually. This pandemic, then, should serve as a wakeup call for all of us to straighten out our diets and daily habits.
The good news is that the virus is likely less lethal than originally thought. More and more municipalities are randomly testing asymptomatic people, discovering that scores have caught the virus without getting ill whatsoever.
At the time of writing, the death rate is estimated to be around 5%. But given the lack of testing, it’s surely much lower than that in reality.
Are There Any Known Cures or Remedies?
At the moment, no. There is no cure and it doesn’t seem like there will be one in the near future.
Furthermore, the ‘cure’ could potentially be a major concern in and of itself. Are we really supposed to believe that a vaccine made by Bill Gates, an individual with 500,000 shares in Monsanto, is going to save the world?
At the time of writing, drug companies are rushing to create something that could alleviate symptoms in critical cases. An already existing antimalarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, in particular, has shown some promise. But it also comes with plenty of side effects.
Furthermore, COVID-19 may be constantly mutating and there are probably already multiple strains. A vaccine may only work out in the very short term. Sadly, it’s probable that the Wuhan virus is here to stay.
At this point, the only reasonable and realistic solution is one that we all should’ve been doing already: eating healthy and getting enough sleep to boost our immune systems naturally.
How to Boost Your Immune System for COVID-19
None of the tips listed below are special magic tricks. When it comes to getting healthy and boosting the immune system, there’s no easy way out.
Be wary of those pushing ‘cure-all’ products, or those claiming that consuming one particular thing can save you from COVID-19. While garlic, for example, is known to be an antiviral, do not expect it to do anything for you if you’re smoking, drinking, eating junk food and getting inadequate sleep.
In order to fully boost your immune system for COVID-19, it’s vital to take a holistic approach. You need to be eating healthy AND getting enough sleep AND getting enough exercise.
But also note that boosting the immune system is not a substitute for social distancing and basic hygiene. We recommend taking all the basic precautions, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and repeated hand-washing. You should be doing these things not just for yourself but to prevent the virus from spreading to others.
Stop Doing THIS:
This is a stressful time for all of us. Not only is there a virus to worry about, but millions of people have lost their jobs. And even for those who are still doing OK, there’s just so much uncertainty about the future.
In stressful situations, people tend to drink lots of alcohol and eat comfort foods. But while the occasional drink or snack may be OK, now is NOT the time for indulgence. Now, more than ever, is the time to prioritize your health.
Be sure to avoid refined carbohydrates like added sugars, cake, cookies, chips and white bread. Such foods are simply not easy on the immune system, and they may tamper with the body’s natural ability to absorb important minerals. Furthermore, these foods can often become addicting.
If you have a sweet tooth, learn more here about some healthy alternatives to both sugar and artificial sweeteners. And for those struggling to handle their anxiety, meditation or yoga are much healthier alternatives to drinking.
While you shouldn’t be living in constant fear, it would be wise to eat and live as if catching this virus at some point is an inevitability. In other words, you want to be preparing your body for war.
Vital Nutrients for Boosting the Immune System
Below we’ll go over some vital nutrients that you should be including in your diet. Broadly speaking, you want to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and various minerals.
Many people are struggling financially at the moment, so you may find this guide for eating healthy on a budget helpful.
Vitamin C is known to strengthen the immune system and make the body less prone to getting infections. It not only stimulates white blood cells, but it also aids in the absorption of other beneficial nutrients and compounds.
Generally, people should be consuming at least 90mg of vitamin C on a daily basis. But this is the recommended lower limit of vitamin C consumption. To keep the common cold at bay, at least 200mg is recommended.
Furthermore, to experience the antioxidant effects of the vitamin, one can consume 200-1,000mg daily for as long as it takes to get the desired results.
Some of the best sources of vitamin C include oranges (82mg per fruit), red peppers (95mg per half cup), kale (80mg per cup) and broccoli (51mg per half cup). Other excellent sources are lemons, grapefruits and strawberries, just to name a few.
When supplementing with vitamin C, you generally want to look out for what are known as liposomal supplements. Liposomal technology allows the antioxidants to travel directly to the target areas – especially beneficial for those using vitamin C to fight off disease.
Learn more about supplementation options here.
Zinc is a crucial mineral that plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions within our bodies. It’s vital for a healthy and balanced immune system, while the mineral also works as an anti-inflammatory.
But zinc is not fat-soluble, so we need to be sure that we’re getting enough of it in our diets, or at least through supplementation.
Fortunately, the daily recommended dose is not a whole lot. It’s between 11 and 40mg for men, or between 8 and 40mg for women.
Some of the best natural sources of zinc include oysters (30mg per six oysters), pumpkin seeds (1 cup for the full RDA) and chickpeas (2.5mg per cup).
Learn more about the different varieties of zinc supplements, along with which variety is best for you, right here.
When your immune system needs a boost, vitamin D can be a powerful warrior. The vitamin can influence thousands of genes and produce over two hundred antimicrobial peptides. It’s an amazing form of protection from a wide variety of viruses and infections.
Furthermore, vitamin D can also help fight against nasty autoimmune diseases. Adequate levels of vitamin D encourage the production of regulatory T cells which help the immune system remember who it’s supposed to be fighting.
And vitamin D has been shown to have positive effects on our mental wellbeing. It affects the neurotransmitter serotonin (the brain’s natural mood regulator), which helps in overcoming certain mood disorders.
The best way to get adequate vitamin D is by simply spending more time out in the sun. But due to current quarantine restrictions, this may not be possible or even advisable for everyone right now (more below).
When it comes to supplementation, go for vitamin D3, vitamin D’s naturally occurring form. Also known as cholecalciferol, this is also the type of vitamin D that’s going to help your bones and aid in many other biological functions.
Many government agencies recommend daily amounts in the 400 – 800 IU range. However, some vitamin D advocates argue that we should be getting up to 5,000 IU’s of vitamin D daily.
Some of the best natural vitamin D sources include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna and herring. Unfortunately, vegans are out of luck, as mushrooms are pretty much the only vitamin D source that doesn’t come from an animal.
About 80% of our immune system is found in the gut. Scientists have even noted what can only be described as “crosstalk” between gut bacteria and the immune system, which is why intestinal health is considered so important to our overall wellbeing.
Every single human being hosts an estimated 40 trillion bacteria in their body, the majority of which can be found in the intestines. And the best way to increase the number of good bacteria in your body is to consume more probiotics.
Some great probiotics are fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, coconut kefir and pickles. Dairy options, meanwhile, include yogurt, cheese and kefir.
But if you’re not a fan of fermented foods, you can also consider probiotic supplementation. Look for supplements with the following bacteria: L. acidophilus, which aids in digestion, B. longum, a powerful antioxidant, and B. bifidum, which helps with the breakdown of carbohydrates and dairy.
When shopping for probiotic supplements, make sure they contain living and not dead bacteria. Also, look out for an expiration date on the label. If you don’t see an expiration date at all, put it back on the shelf.
Vitamin A is vital to a healthy immune system. Furthermore, it can even help protect the skin against viruses and harmful bacteria. And the vitamin can even help the body better absorb zinc.
You can get vitamin A in the form of retinol from eggs, seafood and meat. Beta-carotene, meanwhile, is the precursor to vitamin A that’s common among fruits and vegetables (especially the yellow and orange variety). These include carrots, sweet potatoes and squash.
Men should try to get around 10,800 mcg of beta-carotene per day, while women should aim for at least 8400 mcg.
Taking vitamin A as retinol in the form of supplements comes with a number of potential side effects. Beta-carotene, on the other hand, is water-soluble, and you don’t need to worry about consuming too much. Therefore, consuming beta-carotene from a natural source and allowing your body to make its own vitamin A is a much better alternative.
Some other things to include in your diet include omega-3 fatty acids, as these promote white blood cells and a healthy immune system.
And in general, foods that are high in antioxidants will greatly boost your immune system for COVID-19. Most fruits, berries and leafy greens are rich in antioxidants and will help your body fight against harmful free radicals.
Overall, eat lighter foods to ease the stress on the digestive system. The body uses a tremendous amount of energy and resources on digestion. And an overworked digestive system prevents it from fully focusing on fighting off disease. Intermittent fasting is another method to consider.
Herbs & COVID-19
As there’s still so much we don’t know about the Wuhan virus, experts still aren’t sure what role herbs play when it comes to boosting your immune system for COVID-19.
For example, while we know that herbs like echinacea are great for strengthening one’s immune system in general, it may not be a good idea to take it after you’ve contracted the virus. The reason is that echinacea and similar herbs could further stimulate an inflammatory response and possibly overwork the immune system.
Dr. Weil recommends consuming two cloves of raw garlic which you can either swallow whole or chop up and eat with other food. Sure, the garlic will make your breath stink, but that’s all the more reason to social distance!
Dr. Weil also recommends green tea, which is a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
As mentioned above, in order to boost your immune system for COVID-19, you have to approach your health holistically. Eating right, of course, is one of the best things you can do. But there are also some other healthy habits you should start implementing today.
Most of us aware that regular exercise is vital for a healthy body and mind. But how is one supposed to keep fit when all the gyms are closed, and when there are even restrictions on going outside?
Obviously, if you own some basic gym equipment, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Sadly, most people do not. But that’s no excuse for being completely sedentary during lockdown.
You can do pushups and situps just about anywhere. Furthermore, resistance bands are a great way to keep your muscles active when you don’t have access to regular weights. If you don’t own any, they can easily be ordered online.
Some people may be completely restricted from, or just weary about, running outside at this time. If you want to get some cardio training done with limited space, try shadow boxing in front of a mirror.
And this would also be a great time to take up yoga.
Get Some Sun
Natural sunlight is a vital source of vitamin D (see above) and it also enhances the mood. But in some countries, people are currently barred from going outside at all.
But it’s important to try and get some exposure to natural sunlight in any way that you can. Take walks when you’re allowed, or sit out on a balcony if you have one. Thankfully, the weather is getting warmer and nicer throughout much of the world.
Get Enough Sleep
You could eat right, exercise often and do your best to avoid harmful chemicals. But how healthy are you if you can’t get a good night’s sleep? To put it simply, if you’re not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you’re not living up to your full potential.
When in a deep, restful sleep, our bodies balance hormones, heal injuries and repair damaged tissue. And most doctors recommend 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
With many people working from home, and without the typical daily commute, what better time to prioritize a good night’s rest?
Daily meditation is greatly beneficial for easing anxiety and helping people stay sane in their current lockdown situations.
But of course, your neighbors are in the same quarantine situation as you are, and your building might be a lot noisier than normal. Try to find a quiet room to meditate in, or at least choose a time when your place tends to be quietest.
There are many different ways to meditate, and beginners often complain of too many thoughts rushing through their minds. But that’s OK. Over the long term, you’ll likely find that simply spending time each day alone with your thoughts can be greatly beneficial. Simply try to observe your thoughts without judging them.
Try to meditate for around 15-20 minutes a day if you can. If possible, try multiple sessions. But if it’s really hard in the beginning, start by just doing 5 minutes a day and then gradually working your way up.
What if You Start Experiencing Symptoms?
Dr. C. Norman Shealy recommends finding a holistic physician in your area in advance. That way, if you suddenly start experiencing symptoms, you’ll know who to call.
You generally do not want to visit a hospital unless your condition is critical. The virus is spreading rapidly throughout hospitals at the moment, and it’s one of the riskiest places to be.
While there’s still a lot of research to be done, Dr. Shealy suggests that vitamin therapy, or the intravenous injection of high amounts of vitamins, could be effective at curing this virus. Obviously, you don’t want to try this at home, so be sure to seek out a qualified professional.
Whether it works or not, the treatment has much fewer side effects than many of the prescription meds currently being experimented with.
There are many things that we cannot control right now. Governments are constantly coming up with new measures to contain the virus, implementing their plans with hardly any notice. And as hard as you may be trying to social distance or isolate, you can’t expect everyone else in your city to be doing the same.
It can be frustrating, for sure, but there’s not much use in getting too stressed out about things we can’t control. One thing that IS under our control, however, is our health. That’s why it’s vital to use this time to boost your immune system for COVID-19.