Strong immune system is what you need to build to protect yourself from SARS-CoV-2.
You can do it by following 5 lifestyle shift described in this article.
Leading epidemiologists say that Novel Coronavirus will stay will us for longer, perhaps forever. Taking all necessary steps to protect yourself from the infection may not be enough anymore. You should be prepared to fight the virus. Lifestyle is the very factor which affects your health and with it your immune system. And unless you have some pre-existing conditions, you can strengthen your immune system against viruses (including COVID-19) by following 5 easy steps described below.
Step 1 – Eat foods which strengthen your immune system
Compromised immune system is most often caused by malnutrition. Your body needs proper nutrients which it can get from food to metabolize and use for building immune system. A lot of illness could be actually prevented just by correcting what you eat. So now, when you are serious about taking care of your health, here is what you should add to your diet:
- sweet potatoes
- chicken liver
- egg (egg yolk)
- bell pepper
- citrus fruits
- green leafy vegetables
Vitamin C has earned its reputation as a common cold fighter, which is not entirely correct. Vitamin C indeed boosts the immune system, but it does not prevent catching a virus. It does, however, help to reduce the length of the illness and make symptoms milder, but only if you’ve been having it before (not after) falling seek.
Vitamin E is the ultimate immunity booster, but do not hurry to get supplements from the shelf. The deficiency of it is very rare. It mostly affects infants, especially those born prematurely and adults with fat malabsorption or liver disease. If you don’t have these conditions, supplemienting with Vitamin E could actually cause toxicity and trigger some nasty health consequences. Nevertheless, make sure to include foods reach with this essential nutrient to strengthen your immune system against viruses:
Vitamin D is an interesting example, as you don’t need food (technically) to form it. Your skin can synthesize it from cholesterol, but you need exposure to UV rays (direct sunlight). Sunscreens and glass windows block UV rays. In other words, vitamin D is sun-damaged cholesterol, and some scientists like to call it a pro-hormone.
Just get into the sun for 15-30 minutes a day and you are done! But if you live in northern regions or have many days without much sun, then consider supplementation.
Vitamins from B group
Especially B6, B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin)
- lean meat
- nuts and seeds
- whole grains
- green leafy vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- brussels sprouts
Iron deficiency is the most common dietary deficiency worldwide. Which leads people to weaker immune system, anemia, muscle weakness, mood changes and even impaired cognitive functions (concentration).
Good iron sources are meat, fish, and seafood where it forms a part of hemoglobin or myoglobin.
When you cook these foods longer or in high temperature, iron downgrades to non-heme form.
It is a trace element that the body needs in a minimal amount. Among major roles zinc plays are immune system maintenance, proper growth, and sexual maturation, synthesis of protein, wound healing, blood clotting and production of sperm. Zinc is even used in the treatment of malaria!
- lean meats
- oysters are one of the most abundant sources of this element, 2 pieces can supply even week-long recommended intake of this mineral.
- whole grains
Besides keeping your bones healthy, calcium helps to build a strong immune system. You also need it for normal nerve functioning. Here is where to get more of it:
Calcium sources are not only milk and cheese. Good foods that are rich in calcium are: fish eaten with fishbones, mineral water, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, almonds, beans, seeds, and nuts.
Not all bacteria are bad, there are some, that benefit you and make you healthier in many ways. These bacteria are probiotics, and they boost your immune and digestive systems. They also eliminate pathogens and toxins, mitigate inflammation and increase the bioavailability of some essential nutrients.
- Pickled vegetables
- Fermented soy products: miso, tempeh, natto
- Fermented milk products: kefir, yogurt. If you get a commercial yogurt, check that it has its probiotics intact. The sign “contains life and active cultures” indicates probiotic presence.
- Fermented vegetables. Apart from sauerkraut and kimchi, you can ferment virtually any vegetable!
Living through the Coronavirus Pandemic
Step 2 – Sleep it off
If you read the book of a British neuroscientist Matthew Walker – Why We Sleep – you will remember that even one night of sleep deprivation can compromise your immunity for the entire year! Insufficient and low-quality sleep also damages your brain health, affects metabolism and increases the stress hormones in your system (which doesn’t help to strengthen your immune system against viruses).
Aim to sleep at least 7 hours a day and if you are a teenager, you should sleep even more – 9 to 11 hours. Prepare your room for decent restoration by getting it dark (blackout) with as less light as possible. You may want to remove any digital clocks or other devices that emit light.
If you like to have a drink (or few) before going to bed, make sure to have at least 2-3 hours break from drinking before going to bed to improve the quality of your sleep. Nope, you don’t sleep better after alcohol. You just remember it worse. To fully restore, your body needs to have lower cortisol levels, which alcohol increases. Your resting heartbeat is then higher, which compromises your immune system building.
If you need help in building sleep schedule which supports your full recovery and promotes strong immunity, look out for the upcoming mini-courses on Z Game Changers. The courses are pay-what-you-want, making them extremely affordable. Some starting from as low as $1, giving you savings of $200 training or $1000 in consultations.
As a plus – you retain the knowledge, and understand better how to adjust your lifestyle. In other words, it’s a solution once and for all, unlike expert consultations, which you keep coming back to.
Step 3 – Get rid of unnecessary stress
Stress goes hand in hand with nutrition, exercise and sleep. Remember cortisol, the stress hormone? When you stress you have more of it, which translates in worse quality sleep (which intensifies stress levels even more). General Adaptation Syndrome – stress response mechanism – redirects all the resources in your body to support only essential functions. What it means is that in the long run, your immunity becomes exhausted and too weak. Even smallest infection can lead to fatal outcomes, let alone viruses, which you primary defend from with your immune system.
Simple ways to reduce stress levels:
Practice mindfulness (and we have already a Mindfulness mini-course series on Z Game Changers). You don’t need to meditate to do it, simply by improving your focus and finding ways to distance from the emotions can help you to improve your stress management.
Exercise (this is also step 4 in building strong immune function). Enrich your physical activity with different types of exercises – yoga, cardio, resistance training and flexibility.
Learn to manage your emotions – you can’t really control whether the emotions arise or not, but you are in full charge of how you react to them. By simply delaying your response when you get suddenly pissed off with something by a few seconds, you can realize that the issue is not worth the fuss and go on with your day.
Also sleep enough (step 2) and eat well (step 1). Try also adding high-quality Omega-3 source, such as fatty fish into your meals.
Step 4 – Get moving
Regular exercising is not only better to keep your body sexy. It also boost your stress resilience. Why is it important to have different types of exercise routine? Well, firstly, because different exercise provide you with different benefits and trigger release of different chemical in your brain.
Cardio exercise, such as running, cycling, jumping, swimming, rowing and similar improve your cardio-respiratory function. Your body supplies oxygen more efficiently to every cell, which also means that all of your organ benefit from increased oxygenation. Cardio is also excellent for mental health, which could be affected by the events surrounding us in 2020.
Yoga has long being known for its stress-reducing properties. But did you know that it can also improve your digestion, sleep and even longevity? All of this are benefitial factors which boost your immune system and help fight diseases caused by viruses.
Resistance training helps you increase your muscle mass, which imporves metabolism and long-term health. If you didn’t know, muscle mass is actually positively correlated with longevity! So whether you want to boost your immunity or simply live longer healthier life – you should really build some bulk.
Step 5 – Find healthy coping mechanisms
I believe that you really know what damaging effect on health can smoking and excessive drinking cause. Smoking especially is the one that has no positives whatsoever. I am not going to lecture you here on that, you are well aware of what health problems can it lead to.
On the other hand, when it comes to drinking, it could (sometimes) be beneficial. Of course if you don’t down a bottle of wine every night. Sever studies showed that moderate alcohol consumption improves cardio-vascular function for many (but not all) people. What is moderate depends on your age, metabolism, pre-existing conditions, gender and even race! Yup, genes equipped some people to tolerate alcohol better.
Ideally, if you can, resist drinking at least until the time the Coronavirus Pandemic is over. But if you really need to, try not to exceed two drinks on any single day and cumulatively 7 drinks a week for women and 10 for men.
That’s it! Now, its over to you to start building your strong immune system to protect you from the viruses.