How to Support Your Immune System 

How to Support Your Immune System

COVID-19 has made most of us stop and rethink how we are going to live our lives. You are not alone if this time in self-isolation has had you reflecting upon some of the questionable choices you may have made for your health over the years. As this seemingly unpredictable pandemic unfolds, we’ve all been grappling with our concerns about our health. It’s not too late for a New Year's resolution do-over! Now is the time we can start putting positive steps in place to achieve a healthier body.

What is an immune system?

Your immune system is the most effective weapon you have to fight off coronaviruses like COVID-19. When it detects the body has been invaded by a virus or bacteria, it will muster an army of cells to attack the infection. Your immune system will then create antibodies that bind to the virus molecules and prevent them from infecting your body’s healthy cells. So it is critically important, in times like these, to have a well functioning immune system. People living with compromised immune systems know that even a common cold could be life-threatening.

Will a more active immune system protect me against COVID-19?

There are definitely several steps you can take to help support a healthy lifestyle and reduce complications from some illnesses. However, like everything, when it comes to your immune system too much of a good thing can be bad. The more active your immune system is, doesn’t mean the healthier you’ll be. Hyperactive immune systems are responsible for mildly annoying seasonal allergies to major diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctors and scientists around the world have been documenting the effect COVID-19 appears to have on some previously healthy people. Tragically, some patients who have battled through the first weeks of infection and appear to be on the mend, suddenly crash and deteriorate very quickly. Despite only having a mercurial understanding as to why this happens, doctors and scientists agree that the individuals’ immune system overreacting to the virus is likely to be the cause. The immune system suddenly responds to the viral attack by flooding the body with molecules designed to help coordinate the battle against infection. However, these molecules operating on overkill end up damaging more of the body’s own healthy cells in the processes. Powerful anti-inflammatory drugs are being used to try and slow down this process in affected patients.

Can vitamins or supplements help me to be healthier?

With most of us spending more time indoors on lockdown, you may want to think about taking a recommended daily dosage of vitamin D. As well as preventing us from getting sick, vitamin D also protects our teeth and bones. Normally our bodies absorb it through our skin from the sunlight. However, those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere has just emerged from a dreary winter and are likely to have already depleted supplies of this essential vitamin, and quarantine is not helping us to re-up our stores.

Taking any daily multivitamin is likely to help you stay healthier if your diet is nutritionally deficient. For the average person, exceeding recommended daily dosages or mega dosing one particular vitamin has not proven to benefit anyone’s health. Overall, there’s just no substitute for a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Not only do they contain essential nutrients that can help your immune system fight off bacteria, but your body is better equipped to digest and process veggies than that juice burger you’re craving.

Is there anything I can do to improve my immune system right now?

It’s not magic, following simple health guidelines will help you to keep your immune system ship-shape. If you’re addressing the health needs of your whole body, your immune system already has a lot less work to do when a virus attacks. Healthy living will help you to have a healthy body and a healthy mind:
  1. Washing your hands is your first line of defense against any pathogens looking to take your health for a ride.
  2. Cook any meat and beans thoroughly to avoid food poisoning.
  3. Keep your immunizations up to date, being born with “a good immune system” won’t stop you from getting measles or COVID-19.
  4. Don't smoke...not only is it harmful to your health but it is also one of the worst things you can do during a respiratory pandemic.
  5. Exercise to keep your blood pressure lower and your body weight under control.
  6. Drink in moderation so you don’t poison your system with too much alcohol.
  7. Getting enough sleep has been linked to a well functioning immune system. Most adults need about 7-8 hours of restorative sleep per night.
  8. Reducing stress and maintaining a positive outlook will help to keep your immune system in sync with your healthy attitude.