3 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Against COVID-19 (Part I)

Posted in: COVID-19, Employee Benefits

With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are asking the question, “How can I boost my immune system to lessen my chances of contracting the COVID-19 virus?” On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against illness. But sometimes, it fails — a germ or virus breaks through and makes you sick.

Healthy Lifestyle to Boost Your Immune System

The idea of boosting your immune system is interesting, but the ability to do so is difficult for several reasons. For one, the immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity.

To function well, it requires balance and harmony, which can be hard to accomplish in our busy and often stressful lives, especially with the current Coronavirus pandemic.

However, you can start slow and introduce one health strategy into your lifestyle at a time. The more healthy habits you implement, the stronger your immune system will become. Here are some strategies you should consider:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you are drinking alcohol, drink only in moderation
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Take steps to avoid infection such as washing your hands frequently and not touching your face
  • Try to minimize stress through meditation, hobbies, or sport

While some of these points might be obvious, others warrant a more in-depth discussion. In this first installment of my two-part blog series, I discuss how adopting a healthy diet and taking appropriate supplements can help boost your immune system to fight off COVID-19.

Diet and Supplements*

There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — may alter the immune system. So, what can you do? If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs — maybe, for instance, you don’t like vegetables — taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may have beneficial effects on your immune system.

The following supplements have shown some promise.

  1. Zinc: The benefits of zinc for the common cold were first documented many years ago. Many studies since have supported the efficacy of zinc in boosting the immune system.
  2. Garlic: Garlic has long been shown to have benefits for heart health. It has also been found to stimulate the immune system. The active ingredient in garlic is a compound called allicin, which has been shown to promote the activity of various components of the immune system.
  3. Vitamin C: This vitamin has been traditionally recommended as an immune system booster. Vitamin C is purported to support the immune system through its function as an antioxidant.
  4. Echinacea: This herb has been shown to boost the immune system and provide significant therapeutic value. One of its most significant benefits is when used with recurrent infections.
  5. Elderberry: The berries and flowers have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” said this plant was the key for how to boost your immune system.
  6. Ginseng: This plant has been found to give your immune system the upper hand against infections.

Mayo Clinic developed a “super foods” list. The foods on this list are among our best options for improving our diet, because they meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Good or excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
  • High in phytonutrients and antioxidant compounds, such as vitamin A and E and beta carotene
  • May help reduce the risk of heart disease and other health conditions
  • Readily available

Here are the super foods:

  1. Almonds — fiber, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, calcium, and monounsaturated fats
  2. Apples — soluble fiber and antioxidant vitamin C
  3. Blueberries — fiber, vitamin C, and phytonutrients that may help fight off disease
  4. Broccoli — vitamins A and C, plus phytonutrients
  5. Red Beans — iron, phosphorus, and potassium, plus dietary fiber
  6. Salmon — omega-3 fatty acids
  7. Spinach — vitamins A and C, folate, magnesium, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin
  8. Sweet Potatoes — beta carotene, vitamins A and C, B06, and potassium
  9. Vegetable Juice — all sorts of vitamins (go for the low sodium varieties)
  10. Wheat Germ — thiamin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, protein, and fiber

Stay tuned for my second post in this two-blog series, in which I’ll be discussing two more healthy lifestyle strategies — managing stress and exercising — to boost your immune system against bacteria and viruses, such as the Coronavirus. In the meantime, should you have any questions, contact me at dherndon@psafinancial.com.

*Before starting any supplement, be sure to check with your physician.