From guidelines on proper hand washing to advisories on mask wearing, the coronavirus pandemic has elicited numerous tips from experts on how to stay healthy. However, even in normal times, taking steps to boost your immune system is one of the most important things you can do to ward off illness and maintain a high quality of life. Have you adopted these four simple strategies to strengthen your immune system?
– Choose immune-boosting foods. You’re probably familiar with the power of vitamin C, but simply drinking a glass of orange juice every day may not be enough to keep your immune system in prime condition (not to mention the fact that fruit juices tend to be loaded with unnecessary sugar). Instead, seek your C from whole-food sources, like kiwi, oranges, and broccoli. In addition to vitamin C, eating plenty of garlic and foods that are rich in antioxidants—such as berries, spinach, and carrots—as well as prebiotics—which are essential for maintaining healthy gut bacteria and can be found in sources like asparagus, Jicama root, and Jerusalem artichokes—can help protect you from infection.
– Counter stress. Stress is an inevitable part of life—but when not dealt with properly, it can cause the body to begin producing too much cortisol. Over time, excess cortisol can have a variety of harmful effects on your health, including high blood pressure, poor sleep quality, and a weakened immune system. Whether you commit to an exercise regimen or adopt a yoga or meditation practice,finding healthy ways to cope with stress is essential for keeping your cortisol levels low and your immune system strong.
– Focus on the positive. Many of us are bombarded with negative news every day—particularly during frightening times like the current pandemic. However, focusing on the positive is essential for health and well-being. Studies have linked a positive attitude to lower levels of stress and inflammation and greater resilience to infection, while negative thoughts can wear down your immune system and leave you susceptible to illness. Taking simple steps, such as keeping a gratitude journal or reciting a positive mantra to yourself each morning, can help cultivate a positive attitude.
– Consider supplements and essential oils. While experts generally recommend getting your nutrients primarily from food-based sources, studies show that taking certain supplements may improve your body’s immune response. For example, supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and echinacea have been shown to boost the immune system and reduce the duration of illnesses. In addition, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils—which may be used in an oil diffuser or incorporated into a homemade hand sanitizer—have antiviral properties that can help protect against infection.