Cases of coronavirus, aka COVID-19, continue to climb around the world. And, whether you’re on the move as usual or practicing social distancing and staying put, you’ve probably wondered what you can do to stay healthy and strengthen immune system.
Of course, doing your best to avoid exposure to COVID-19 is really the best way to lower your risk of infection. But, aside from that, these scientifically-proven methods of strengthen immune system will help you do your best to stay healthy.
Try not to drink too much alcohol.
Sure, practicing social distancing is the perfect time to try out new drinks at home, but don’t go overboard. Drinking a lot has been shown in research to suppress your immune system’s ability to work properly. Not only that, alcohol can dehydrate you, which ultimately keeps your cells from working at their optimal level—and that can open you up to getting sick.
Cool it with the stress.
Easier said than done, we know. But research has found that stress causes a release of the hormone cortisol, which then increases inflammation in your body. (Chronic inflammation can lead to disease, by the way.) Chronic stress might also mess with your white blood cells’ ability to fight off infection.
Load up on fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies help give your body the antioxidants it needs to fight oxidative stress (which includes getting sick) in your body. Exact recommendations vary by person and your individual needs, but the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people who eat a 2,000 calories a day diet have 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables a day.
Go for vitamin D.
Vitamin D supports your immune system by helping your body produce antibodies—and antibodies can help you fight illness. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough vitamin D. Your body mainly makes vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays, but you can also load eat vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish and seafood, mushrooms, eggs, and fortified foods to help.
Get plenty of sleep.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body may decrease the production of protective proteins called cytokines, which your immune response needs more of when it’s dealing with an infection. In general, the U.S. National SleepFoundation recommends that adults up to age 64 should sleep between seven and nine hours per night.
Wash your hands regularly.
Ideally, for 20 seconds at a time (i.e. the amount of time it takes to hum the “HappyBirthday” song twice). Washing your hands regularly can help keep viruses and bacteria away from your eyes, nose, and mouth—and that can keep your immune system from getting overwhelmed.
Staying active can help keep pathogens out of your lungs and airways, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and that can lower your risk getting a respiratory infection. Exercise can boost antibodies and white blood cells, which can help your body better fight infection.
Sure, you can do everything right and still contract COVID-19. But doing your best to boost your immune system now can help increase the odds you’ll stay healthy, now and in the future.