Did the COVID-19 force you to reconsider the study on how to improve the function of the immune system and your overall health?
I bet the answer is yes.
Like never before, problems with hygiene, immune function and natural remedies are among the biggest questions in people’s minds, and there are good reasons for this.
Prevention of coronavirus capture cannot yet be guaranteed by any strategy or medication, but it is becoming apparent that people with a strong and reactive immune system can prevent (sometimes) its capture or minimize the health risks involved. are associated.
I am not a doctor. I don’t play it on the Internet either. Therefore, I will leave public health advice to public health professionals on the overall situation.
However, being a trainer with 10 years of experience and a few initials after my name, I know one thing that has been proven by science and supported by my own experience:
It is always helpful to do everything you can to keep the immune system working at full capacity.
People always ask me what they can do to boost their immune systems, and as far as I like and believe in supplements, herbs and (if necessary) drugs, I always tell these people that the most important thing important is to increase their immunity. must first master the basics.
These are things you can do today that are worthless. I recommend that you prioritize these basic steps to protect and improve your health – and possibly your immune system.
While these actions are still important aspects of maintaining good health, they can be critical in times of heightened risk, as they are today.
1. Hand washing practice
Coronaviruses, like most other viruses, die by washing their hands for 20 seconds with soap or by using a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content above 60%.
Smokers have an increased risk of contracting infections and suffer from serious complications caused by these infections. We don’t need more reasons for not smoking, but this time emphasizes the importance even more.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep is important for overall health and, as a bonus, it can also help our immune function. For example, one study found that people with insomnia had, on average, a weaker immune response to the flu vaccine, while another study found that people with poor sleep changed their expression. genes associated with immune function.
Again, the science in this area may not be reliable, but when it comes to general health, good sleep helps. At such times, you need to prioritize sleep hygiene.
Because it is difficult to quantify the quality of sleep, I like to use sleep tracking tools that measure your variability in night heart rate (HRV). High HRV has been associated in several studies with lower overall stress levels.
Companies selling HRV tracking devices like Apple or Oura say that by tracking the average human HRV combined with resting heart rate and body temperature, they can accurately predict whether you will catch a cold or catch a cold if you come into contact with a source of bacteria or viruses.
We still need more scientific evidence to confirm these claims, but in my experience, monitoring the above variables is the best way to test our immune system without a blood test.
Also, if you are isolated at home, it likely means that you will be spending more time on electronic devices such as tablets, phones, and TVs. It may be a good time to invest in glasses blocking blue glasses and look for non-tech activities that can take place in the evening, such as puzzles, crosswords, or reading a real book ( not a book!). Studies show that filtering blue lights at night improves sleep and combats insomnia.
4. Get the right amount of exercise
Observational studies show that athletes practice fewer infections than those who do not. Although these studies have mixed variables, the general consensus is that exercises in general are likely to be useful, with some caveats.
Some studies show that physical attacks (> 1.5 hours with an average heart rate> 75% maximum) can temporarily decrease immune function. In addition, elite athletes who are “overtrained” are more likely to suffer from infections.
My advice Stay active, but remember that now is not the time to start new high intensity exercise. If you already like to exercise, consider reducing the frequency or intensity by 10 to 20% (this is not scientifically justified, but recommended by some experts). Also, try to focus on the exercises at home or outside. General sports equipment, such as weights and cardiovascular equipment, can have surfaces that transmit the virus.
5. Manage your stress
While acute stressors can temporarily improve immune function, chronic stressors can decrease immune function. Concerns about the stock market, focusing on enough toilet paper and focusing on the uncertainties of the future can increase cortisol levels, which could affect our immune function. Although data is difficult to interpret in this area, a study found that medical students whose stress level increased before their final exams reduced the function of natural killer cells, the cells that are the “first responders” of our immune system.
We cannot make stressful situations go away, but we can all take steps to control our reaction to stress. Meditation, mindfulness exercises, outings and walking are all examples of free and relatively simple activities.
Try to start with a simple morning meditation every day. This guide will help you get started.
6. Drink alcohol in moderation
In times of stress, some people turn to alcohol as a survival mechanism. While meditation, nature walks, and mindfulness exercises are probably healthier ways to deal with the situation, for some, they are not enough, and alcohol adds a little more. They don’t judge here. We all must do our best to survive the difficult times.
However, studies show a link between chronic heavy drinking and increased susceptibility to infections. The trick is knowing where to draw the line. Although there is little scientific research, most experts believe that a reasonable daily limit is two glasses for men and one glass for women.
Once the above mentioned basics are part of your daily life, you may want to consider improving yourself with supplements.
7. Take supplements
Can taking vitamins, minerals or other supplements protect you from COVID-19? Contrary to what you can read on the Internet, this is a question that cannot be unequivocally answered. Here is what we know about certain supplements that are said to have immune properties.
For decades, vitamin C has been used to prevent colds. Among other functions, this vitamin can help maintain healthy skin, which is a barrier against germs and other harmful invaders. In addition, some, but not all, studies suggest that it may improve the function of certain white blood cells that fight infection.
Although it is not clear whether supplementing with vitamin C is beneficial for COVID-19, for most people there is no harm in taking it up to 2000 mg per day (the limit superior set by the National Academy of Medicine).
Like the hormone and the vitamin, vitamin D plays an important role in our health.
In recent years, people have taken very high doses of vitamin D in order to increase immunity. But is it an effective tactic? A systematic review of 25 randomized trials conducted in 2017 showed that vitamin D supplementation appears to have a moderate protective effect against respiratory infections in most people, but offers much greater protection for those who are vitamin D deficient.
If you have low levels of vitamin D, you are more likely to feel good if you take 2,000 IU per day (or more, under the supervision of a doctor). Many people – maybe even most – are deficient in vitamin D, so it would probably be advisable to take vitamin D supplements now, especially if you have an increased risk of developing COVID-19.
Of course, your body can produce vitamin D on its own when your skin is exposed to the sun, so try to get some sun when you can. The amount of sun you need depends on the time of year and your location. A good starting point is a 15-minute exposure to a large part of the body (such as the trunk or back). Remember to avoid sunburn, as excessive exposure to the sun comes with its own risks.
Zinc is a mineral involved in the response of white blood cells to infection. For this reason, people with zinc deficiency are more prone to colds, flu, and other viruses. A meta-analysis of seven studies found that zinc supplementation reduced the duration of the common cold by 33% on average. It is not yet known if this could have a similar effect on COVID-19.
Taking extra zinc can be a good strategy for the elderly and others at high risk. If you decide to take zinc, make sure you do not exceed the upper limit of 40 mg per day.
In recent years, magnesium (Mg) has been researched because of its functionality in the body. It is one of the most important trace elements and its role in biological systems has therefore been carefully studied. In particular, Mg is closely associated with the immune system in a non-specific and specific immune response, also known as the innate and acquired immune response.
Studies have shown that most people lack magnesium and, from my personal experience with clients, adding magnesium is always good for your health. There is no direct correlation between magnesium supplementation and the fight against COVID-19, but many studies show the importance of an adequate intake of magnesium for energy and health in general.
My advice is to supplement 400 to 800 mg of magnesium, divided into two or three daily doses.
Obviously, proper nutrition and hydration play an important role in strengthening the immune system, but they deserve a separate article. I suggest that you do your own research on the type of food that can improve the immune system and which foods increase inflammation in the body.
In the meantime, following the tips above can only increase your chances of spending the next critical months, while staying as healthy and safe as possible.