Iowa Specialty Hospital

Boost Your Immune System During COVID-19

April 20, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to take its toll, one of the best things you can do at this time is to boost your immune health. The following are tips to boost your immune system now and in the future.

Be Active

Researchers have shown that exercise improves the immune and metabolic systems. Regular exercise increases your body’s production of antibodies and T-cells, causing them to circulate more rapidly. Plus, it helps expel toxins from your body, which can energize your cells and metabolism. Regular exercise also lowers your body’s stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which gives your immune system added strength. According to a recent study, exercising at least 5 days per week reduced the risk of getting an upper respiratory infection by nearly 50% compared with being sedentary. This exercise regimen also made symptoms less severe depending on one’s physical fitness level.

Even sweating is good for immune health. When you sweat, your body reacts much like it does when you have a fever. By raising your body temperature, you are helping your body kill pathogens.  Take a walk or go for a run--just be sure to keep that 6-foot distance. Go outside and garden. Find workout videos online. Lift weights in the basement. Find something to get your body moving and your immune system in tip-top shape. 

Eat Right

One of the keys to a healthy immune system is eating right. When things are right in the gut, all is well with the immune system. So, it should come as no surprise that eating healthy foods leads to a healthy immune system that can help fight off infection faster.

Eat healthy and whole foods when you can, and try to include a “rainbow” of colors, which is a good way to ensure that you’re getting key vitamins and nutrients in your diet. It’s also a good idea to include fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, and kefir in your diet. These are prebiotic foods that “feed” the good bacteria in your gut. On the flip side aim to limit your intake of processed and fried foods which are inflammatory.  

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep reboots your mind and your body, which in turn also reboots your immune system. Not getting enough sleep causes your body to increase its production of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. This elevation in stress hormones doesn’t just keep you awake, it also puts stress on the immune system.

In one study, researchers found that getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night can make you 4 times less likely to catch a cold compared with less than 6 hours per night. How much sleep you need varies according to your age. The Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for young adults and adults (18-64 years), and 7 to 8 hours of sleep for older adults (≥ 65 years).

More Tips for Better Immune Health

Practice Good Hygiene: Maintain your normal hygiene regimens during this time will help maintain your health. Daily hygiene rituals can also have a positive impact on your mood.

Keep Your Mind Active: Read books, learn a new language, play a game, etc. to keep your mind active.

Head Outside: Spend at least 30 minutes per day outdoors. At least two hours per week outdoors promotes good health both physically and psychologically.

Stay In Touch: While social distancing you can still get in touch with friends and family with via phone calls, email, or Facetime, etc. This can help fight feelings of depression, helplessness, and reduce your stress levels.

While it’s important to maintain good immune health, our minds and bodies benefit from healthy measures even more during stressful times. The steps you put in practice now will not only help you handle today, but they’ll prepare your body for a healthy future.

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