By Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre MD
Your immune system does an incredible job of protecting your body from parasites, viruses, bacteria, and other foreign bodies. You might be keeping just as busy while working in healthcare or working from home while homeschooling the kids at the same time. With all of these stresses on your immune system, you need to stay fit and healthy. From lifestyle choices to diet and good hygiene, I’ll break down how to strengthen your immune system.
The good news is that, while there is no magic “healthy pill,” there are tried and tested things you can do to take your immune system up a notch.
Sleep is crucial. Anyone who has skipped a few hours of sleep in favor of a late-night will know how tired you can feel the next day. But when it comes to your health, sleep plays an essential role.
The best thing about sleep is that it’s free. Ultimately, getting plenty of quality sleep will help because you feel well-rested. Research shows that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus.
Sleep is like anything else in the body. You need to take care of your sleep to feel healthy. You want to feel refreshed and ready to go, not run down. Studies show that a good night’s sleep boosts the effectiveness of a type of immune cell called T cells. T cells are like a special-forces unit in your body that fights one kind of virus when it attacks the body.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans that struggle to fall and stay asleep, you’re not alone. When you prioritize sleep, it can do wonders not only for your health but for your muscle recovery, mood, weight management, and your mental health. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, here are five quick tips for sleeping better:
When looking for how to strengthen your immune system, look for zinc. This is a nutrient that you need to stay healthy. You can find it in cells throughout the body. As well as boosting the immune system, zinc plays a role in making proteins and DNA.
Simple supplements like zinc can help support the immune system and keep you fit. Zinc benefits your health by helping to stop viral replication. It supports the immune system by fighting off invaders like bacteria and viruses. A lack of zinc in the diet can lead to defects in the immune system.
You only need a small amount of zinc to experience the benefits. The trace element is in different foods like chickpeas, lentils, whole grains, and shellfish. You can also find it in vitamin supplements as part of a multivitamin or as a standalone zinc supplement. Zinc can also do the following:
Another way to help strengthen the immune system is to take vitamin C. It’s thought that, as it’s an antioxidant, vitamin C can be beneficial in fighting the novel coronavirus. Currently, some doctors are even using 1500 mg IV vitamin C drips as a treatment in hospitals. While you can’t usually take vitamin C through IV at home, you can benefit from taking it orally in tablet form.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin. This means that your body can’t produce it. So, you need to consume vitamin C through your diet, IV, or via supplement. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C can bolster your body’s natural defenses. Antioxidants help to protect cells in the body from harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Supplementing vitamin C is a simple idea for how to strengthen your immune system that you can do cheaply and easily at home.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin needed for growth, development, and immune function. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. The body does keep some small reserves of vitamin C, but you need to top it up regularly to prevent a shortage. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. To up your intake, here are some good sources for vitamin C:
Vitamin D is another supplement that is beneficial for the immune system. It’s clear that vitamin D has an important role to play in the body. Typically, normal levels of vitamin D correlate to a stronger immune system. This might be part of why the number of African American people catching the coronavirus is starting to trend upwards, as this population is known to have lower levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for a properly functioning immune system. Vitamin D helps to enhance the function of immune cells that protect your body from pathogens. In fact, vitamin D is so vital that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased susceptibility to disease, infection, and other immune-related disorders.
With the spread of COVID-19, everyone is spending much more time indoors. This can impact your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, as the sun is one of the best sources of vitamin D. To maintain healthy vitamin D levels, aim to get between ten and thirty minutes of midday sunlight several times a week. People with darker skin tones may need more time than this to increase vitamin D levels.
Both men and women should aim to get 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Supplements are a great way to increase your vitamin D levels, especially during a time when a lot of people are indoors more than usual. It’s important to buy high-quality supplements. If you don’t get enough vitamin D through your food or sun exposure, supplements can be beneficial for supporting your immune system.
By following general guidelines on hygiene, hand washing, and social distancing, you’re already well on your way to staying healthy. But there are things you can do to help strengthen your immune system so that it’s in tip-top shape. Even then, you can get plenty of sleep and lots of vitamin C and still get sick. It’s OK. The key is to take time to recharge and give yourself the best opportunity to stay healthy and fit. Keep on getting quality sleep and make sure you’re hitting your zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D levels.