Building up your immune system can help prevent infections and diseases. Aside from social distancing and maintaining good hygiene habits, there are a few changes you can make to your schedule to help boost your immune system during COVID-19. These lifestyle changes include getting plenty of sleep, maintaining a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep plays a vital role for your immune system. As the Sleep Foundation explains, less hours of sleep means the body makes fewer cytokines. Cytokines are produced and released while a person sleeps to combat infections and inflammations. Another study published in the Journal of Neuroscience also found that the brain’s somatosensory cortex, which is responsible for pain sensitivity, was hyperactive in sleep-deprived participants. This means sleep-deprived people are more sensitive to pain as opposed to well-rested ones.
The Sleep Foundation recommends the following hours of sleep per age group:
Maintain a well-balanced diet
According to the USDA, a healthy diet includes eating:
- Vegetables from all subgroups
- Grains, with 50 percent being whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products
- Protein food including seafood, nuts, seeds and soy products
A healthy diet also avoids saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium. The Cleveland Clinic suggests increasing intakes of vitamin C, E, A, D as well as folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc. As always, stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Water helps infection and experts recommend drinking 6 to 8, 8oz glasses of water a day.
Moderate, regular exercise is good for your immune system. In fact, just 20 minutes a day helps. Researchers at UC-San Diego found that 20 minutes of exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects that boosts your immune system. With social distancing guidelines in place and several states with shelter in place orders due to COVID-19, it is very important to avoid crowded gyms and sports that require physical contact.
If you do not have any workout machines available at home, a jog outdoors (following social distancing guidelines) or a workout video can help get those 20 minutes of exercise in. For a list of free online workout resources, click here. After a workout, be sure to wipe down and disinfect any equipment and avoid exercising if you become ill.