Whether you live in a Coronavirus “hot spot” or not, you are likely very concerned. What practical approaches can you take to support your immune system and the immune systems of the people you live with and care about? Read on to find out practical and effective ways to support your immune system’s fight against a viral infection.
There are several very effective preventive measures that you can do that can protect you, your family, friends and neighbors. These are simple steps—but understand that they DO work.
There is also a new phrase we are all using—social distancing. Social distancing means that you stay 4-6 feet away from people and stay away from large crowds (usually considered groups of more than 100 people). To see what 4-6 feet away means within arm’s reach. For preventing infection, no other person should be within the circle made by your outstretched hands.
Other preventive measures include coughing into a disposable tissue, handkerchief or the inner part of your elbow. That is useful—but it is MOST useful when you also properly dispose of the used tissue immediately, place the handkerchief in the wash immediately and put any clothing into the wash immediately. Clean surfaces like countertops, cell phones, computer keyboards, doorknobs, handles etc often and well.
Finally—if you think you are sick, as difficult as it may be, stay home! This is not always easy, but in the long run, it may save yours and other people’s health.
Find more information on prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One of the best approaches to maintaining a strong and balanced immune system is a wholesome, nutritious diet consisting of whole grains, lots of vegetables and fruit, fish, lean poultry and meats, nuts, and seeds. It is critical that you provide yourself and all your loved ones with all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your immune system needs to function. You should also drink lots of water. Beyond prevention, diet and hydration—there is even more that you can do!
The importance of exercise, rest, relaxation and sleep to a healthy immune system can’t be emphasized enough. Why? Because all these can help you reduce stress, and stress of any kind can significantly depress your immune response. Not being physically active can stress your immune system as well as your heart, blood vessels and your nervous system. Not getting enough exercise, rest, relaxation and sleep is also a stressor for your whole body. Any form of stress depresses the immune system because chronic stress result in the release of cortisol—and cortisol decreases the number of immune cells available to react to any virus. When you don’t get enough exercise, rest, relaxation and sleep, your risk for obesity increases along with your risk of a suppressed or depressed immune system.
There’s lots of “hype” out there, especially now, about the coronavirus. While it is true that this is a novel (new) virus and there is much we don’t know, we know quite a lot more about the immune system and how to support a healthy immune system.