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How to strengthen your immune system

by Tina Sendin April 27, 2020

How to strengthen your immune system

The world we live in now is such as different one from just a few months ago. I am writing this in April 2020, in the height of global COVID-19 lockdown, when practically most of the streets throughout the world is a ghost town.

It’s the perfect setting for a zombie apocalypse, sans the zombies.

All of a sudden, people are either stuck at home working remotely – if not finishing all the Netflix shows – or fighting for other people’s lives – if not their own.

To say that we are living in strange, unprecedented times is a massive understatement.

So the big question is – how can we avoid catching COVID-19?

One of the main things about this chart from Cleveland Clinic is keeping your immune system strong. [1]

But how exactly can we keep our immune system strong, especially in this lockdown life? That’s what we’re going to cover in this article.

 

The deal about the immune system

Our body is usually equipped enough to fight viruses since our immune system is made up of antibodies.

Our immune system also has three lines of defense: [2]

  • First line of defense: Innate immune system. According to the University of Arizona, this refers to “nonspecific defense mechanisms that come into play immediately or within hours of an antigen's appearance in the body. These mechanisms include physical barriers such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and immune system cells that attack foreign cells in the body.” [3] White blood cells are also included in this line of defense, which attacks and kills infected cells. When said cells are about to die, this line of defense also causes fever and inflammation of tissues when it detects antibodies.
  • Second line of defense. Thanks to other white blood cells such as monocytesmacrophagesand neutrophilsour body is able to inspect and detect for infection. When it does, it releases immune hormones preparing other cells in case they get infected.
  • Third line of defense: Adaptive system. This line of defence “creates an army of immune cells specifically designed to attack the antigen” or virus. [3] It also remembers the antigen (the virus) so the body can adapt to it next time it hits.

The reason why SARS-Cov-2 virus – commonly known as COVID-19 or Coronavirus – has infected a significant portion of the entire global population is that we don’t have the third line of defense against it yet.

 

Why others have stronger immune system than others

COVID-19 is most known for infecting the old and immunocompromised, although that’s not to say that children and younger people are not susceptible at all.

This is because the older population and immunocompromised have weaker immune system than others. As we grow older, our bodies’ lines of defense are no longer as effective as they were years ago. And people with certain illnesses or taking medications that suppress the immune system are more susceptible than others.

 

Who are the immunocompromised?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described those with weakened immune systems to be: [4]

“… those with HIV/AIDS; cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs; and those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system (e.g., congenital agammaglobulinemia, congenital IgA deficiency).”

Cancer.gov also defined immunocompromised patients as follows: [5]

“Patients who are immunocompromised have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases. This may be caused by certain diseases or conditions, such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, malnutrition, and certain genetic disorders. It may also be caused by certain medicines or treatments, such as anticancer drugs, radiation therapy, and stem cell or organ transplant. Also called immunosuppressed.”

 

How to strengthen your immune system

In this time of Corona, one of the best things we could do is to maintain healthy habits and strengthen our immune system.

According to Professor Marc Pellegrini, an infectious diseases expert at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, “anything that makes your heart healthy, your lungs healthy, and kidneys healthy, will make your immune system healthy.” [2]

 

Healthy eating habits could be key to staying Corona-free.

Some people say that eating green vegetables like broccoli could do wonders with our immune system. But experts say it’s all about having a well-balanced diet.

The CNN article “How to strengthen your immunity during the Coronavirus pandemic. Part 1: Diet” listed down key foods to improve your diet: [6]

  • Carrots, kale and apricots for beta carotene
  • Oranges, strawberries and broccoli for Vitamin C
  • Eggs, cheese, tofu and mushrooms for Vitamin D
  • Beans, nuts, cereal and seafood for zinc
  • Milk, eggs, nuts and more for protein
  • Bananas, beans and more for prebiotics
  • Water, fruit, soup and more for hydration

 

Get more snooze

Research shows that having enough sleep is essential to keeping a strong immune system. And that chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system. [7]

With this lockdown life, it would presumably be easier to sleep in, right?

But if too much uncertainty and anxiety are keeping you up at night, know that it’s a normal response.

Here are some tips for getting more sleep, including lessening the amount of blue light at night, some meditation, and taking supplements containing natural sleep-inducing ingredients like VALI Sleep Well.

How to sleep better: 6 easy things you can do today

How to fall asleep fast… 3 life hacks that have got you covered

Sleep hacks of successful entrepreneurs

7 ways exercise helps you sleep better

 

Sources

[1] https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2020/03/18/frequently-asked-questions-about-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2020-03-25/can-you-boost-your-immune-system-to-help-fight-coronavirus/12085036

[3] http://www.biology.arizona.edu/immunology/tutorials/immunology/page3.html

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/gen_info/infect_ic.html

[5] https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/immunocompromised

[6] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/25/health/immunity-diet-food-coronavirus-drayer-wellness/index.html

[7] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170127113010.htm




Tina Sendin
Tina Sendin

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