What are the best ways to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic? It is of utmost importance to follow the CDC guidelines for good hygiene and to take steps to boost your immune system. I’m here to provide you with some tips to help you stay safe during the coming weeks and months.
As we know, the best way to prevent transmission of viruses, including the coronavirus, is to follow a good hygiene protocol which includes:
· Washing your hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds.
· Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands.
· Covering any coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If this isn’t possible, then sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow.
· Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
· In addition, current guidelines for COVID-19 prevention strongly encourage wearing masks and social distancing which means maintaining a distance of 6 feet between yourself and other people outside of your family at all times. Avoid public gatherings, and other social gatherings both large and small.
What else can we do? We need to focus on maintaining a strong, healthy immune system.
Over 70% of our immune system lies in the gut, and research indicates that our overall health starts with gut health. The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, all of which have an impact on physical and mental health. Gut health is directly tied to immune system health. It is extremely important that we do everything we can to strengthen our immune systems with diet, lifestyle modifications, and supplements.
Eating probiotic and prebiotic foods is essential for gut health. This, along with eating antioxidant dense foods, helps boost the immune system.
Prebiotic foods are foods that contain a specific type of fiber that feed the good bacteria for the gut. Examples of prebiotic foods include jicama, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), asparagus, unripe bananas, onion, leeks, garlic, flax seed, and seaweed.
Probiotic foods are fermented foods. These foods contain healthy bacteria that help keep the gut in balance. These include foods such as sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, miso, and kombucha.
Antioxidant dense foods include berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers, carrots, almonds, Brazil nuts, seeds, green tea, dark chocolate, turmeric, ginger, dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard greens, Brussel sprouts, Bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower. In addition, mushrooms have special immune boosting components.
Supplements for immune support
Probiotics to support gut health. A good quality, broad species probiotic is very important. Many probiotics on the market are single species and may be low quality. For the best quality, I recommend seeing a health care professional.
Vitamin D3 is an important vitamin that is most well-known for supporting strong bones. However, this vitamin has a host of other benefits including supporting immune system health.
Zinc plays an important role in immune health according to various studies. Taking extra zinc when symptoms first begin may help reduce the length and severity of illness.
Antioxidants play a vital role in immune health and help fight infection. An antioxidant supplement will include vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and Selenium.
Curcumin is the active component of turmeric and is a strong antioxidant which also supports cellular health and a healthy microbial environment.
1. Eat a healthy diet – high in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar, processed food, and refined carbohydrates.
2. Exercise regularly – low and moderate level exercise helps lower cortisol levels and boost the immune system.
3. Don’t smoke or vape.
4. Get adequate sleep – adults should get 7-9 hours per night.
5. Maintain a healthy weight.
6. Stress management – relaxation techniques are important.
7. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation - the standard guideline is no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. However, I would recommend only drinking this amount 2-3 days per week rather than daily.
If you are someone who suffers from digestive issues or other chronic conditions that impact your immune system such as diabetes, heart disease, or autoimmune conditions then supporting your immune health is that much more important.