How to Boost Your Immune System While Staying Home
As we spend more time social distancing to reduce our COVID-19 risk, it’s also vital to prepare your body to handle potential illness. Here are some recommendations for how to boost your immune system:
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. Many of these help fight pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Meanwhile, deficiencies in various vitamins and minerals can contribute to a depressed immune system.
That’s why it’s wise to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. Try to “eat the rainbow,” meaning greens, berries, and other colorful produce providing different nutrients.
Keep practicing good hygiene
Being around fewer people and public places is a good start, but even in quarantine, everyone in your household should maintain excellent hygiene habits. When you come in from outside, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Also, remember to sanitize groceries and deliveries.
Get some exercise
Even though you can’t go to the gym, you need to get physical activity while confined. Exercise reduces inflammation and increases the number of T-cells and natural killer cells (two types of white blood cell essential to a strong immune system). Going for a walk or run, doing simple cardio or bodyweight exercises in the house will all benefit your immune system. Find out more about why exercise is so important and check out some at-home workout tips here.
This is a stressful time. But stress—especially chronic stress—can have a profound effect on your immune system. When you’re under stress, your body dumps the stress hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. Chronic elevated cortisol levels reduce your body’s production of white blood cells that fight infection, leaving you more susceptible to dangerous microbes such as viruses. That’s why meditating, taking breaks from the news, and otherwise keeping stress in check can help your immunity.
Getting enough quality sleep is essential to a healthy immune system. Lack of or poor-quality sleep lead to elevated stress hormone levels and lowered immunity. While it’s an unusual period, do what you can to stay on a regular schedule of sufficient sleep.