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How To Keep Your Immune System Stronger During Your COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Orders

The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. Most of the time, the immune system protects the body from infection. However, some people have a weak immune system that may make them prone to frequent infections.

White blood cells, antibodies, and other components, including organs and lymph nodes, make up the body’s immune system. Many disorders can weaken the immune system and cause a person to become immunocompromised. These immunodeficiency disorders, which range from mild to severe, can be present from birth or may occur as a result of environmental factors. 

Sometimes, an immunodeficiency disorder can be so mild that a person may not be aware of it for years. Other times, the disorder is more severe and causes a person to experience frequent infections throughout their life.

The primary symptom of a weak immune system is susceptibility to infection. A person with a weak immune system is likely to get infections more frequently than most other people, and these illnesses might be more severe or harder to treat. These individuals may also find themselves dealing with an infection that a person with a stronger immune system would not get.

People who have a weak immune system can take several steps to maximize their chances of staying healthy and avoiding infections, especially during this current epidemic.

Manage Stress

Amongst things like practicing good hygiene (washing hands for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap), avoiding people who are sick, disinfecting household objects, following a doctor’s advice on vaccines, you should also take care to manage stress. Because stress can weaken the immune system further and make a person more susceptible to illness.  Research shows that a person who is under excessive stress is more likely to get sick. https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune

Practices that may reduce and manage stress include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massages
  • Spending time pursuing hobbies
  • Getting enough sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation has a similar effect on the body’s immune system as stress. Lack of sleep disrupts the normal production of white blood cells, a crucial component of the body’s immune system. According to the CDC, adults should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per day, while infants and children need between 8 and 17 hours of sleep depending on their age.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise keeps the body healthy. In addition to strengthening the body, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that reduce stress levels. However, those with weak immune systems should be careful not to push themselves too hard as this can weaken the immune system further.

Eat A Healthful Diet

A person with a weak immune system should really focus on a healthy diet.  Eating a healthy, balanced diet can improve a person’s overall well-being. For people with a weak immune system, doctors generally recommend a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruit, which will provide plenty of nutrients. I also highly recommend this diet for practically everyone.  Some vitamins and minerals have an effect on the immune system. For example, a person who has a vitamin C deficiency can have weakened immunity.

Other vitamins and minerals that can affect immune function include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Folic acid
  • Zinc

It is best to get these nutrients from dietary sources where possible, but if this proves challenging, supplements may help with immunity.

Foods That Boost Your Immune System

Vitamin C:Guava, papaya, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, orange, and grapefruit
Vitamin E:Seeds, healthy vegetable oils, and grains
Carotenoids:Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, and tomatoes
Bioflavonoids:Berries, cherries, grapes, and true fruit juices, true teas (not herbal teas), grains, celery, parsley, grapefruit, oranges, apple skin, onions, endive, radishes, tomatoes, leeks, broccoli, and red wine
Zinc:Oysters, crab, beef, turkey (dark meat), and beans
Garlic:In most recipes
Selenium:Tuna, red snapper, lobster, shrimp, whole grains, brown rice, egg yolks, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, Brazil nuts, and lamb. 
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:Flax oil and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and sardines)

What Are Bioflavonoids?

You can find bioflavonoids in the pulp and white core that runs through the center of citrus fruits, green peppers, lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, and grapes. Quercetin is a highly concentrated form of bioflavonoids found in broccoli, citrus fruits, and red and yellow onions. Foods high in bioflavonoids may help you stay healthy. Hosts of experiments on bioflavonoids have suggested that these key nutrients help increase immune system activation. These biochemically active substances accompany vitamin C in plants and act as an antioxidant.

The Takeaway

Taking steps to protect yourself from getting ill, involves many factors.  Most importantly is your diet, stress relief, sleep, overall good hygiene and avoiding others who are sick.  Acting on some of these may be helpful, but considering all of these factors will be most beneficial. Stay healthy and strong my friends.

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