3 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Against COVID-19 (Part II)
As countries around the world are working to find a vaccine and cure for COVID-19, many of us are resorting to prevention, and you may be wondering how you can boost your immune system to lessen your chances of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
In my first installment of this blog series, I discussed the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, including how a healthy diet and appropriate supplements can make a difference to fight off COVID-19. In this second part, I elaborate on two more factors — stress management and exercise — that can help protect your health.
For most of us, stress is just a part of life, and it is very hard to manage or eliminate completely.
It is important to understand how stress affects your body and implement best practices to minimize it to help keep your body strong against the Coronavirus.
Stress causes your body to produce greater levels of the stress hormone called cortisol. In short doses (stress that only lasts for few hours), cortisol can boost your immune system by limiting inflammation. But over time, if you live in constant stress, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in the blood. This opens you up to more inflammation.
In addition, stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes — the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for any illness.
High stress levels can also cause depression and anxiety, again leading to higher levels of inflammation. In the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect you.
Stress reduction strategies not only give your mind a break, but they can also relieve the pressure on your immune system. These are two of the most effective tactics in strengthening your immunity:
- Meditation (also called mindfulness): Meditate for 10 minutes to 15 minutes three or four times a week to lower your stress. Mindfulness reduces your cortisol levels and reduces inflammation.
- Yoga: Practicing yoga also lowers stress hormone levels and calms your nervous system to reduce inflammation. Deep breathing helps boost your resistance to infection. Inverted poses in yoga help circulate fluid through your lymphatic system, filtering out toxins.
Remember: it’s chronic stress that we seek to control. Stress in acute situations can be healthy and protective.
Regular exercise is one of the most important parts of healthy living, but does it naturally boost your immune system and keep it healthy? Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly than eating well to boosting your immune system by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. Just remember, oxygen is the enemy of disease and the friend of healthy cells.
There are many other ways to improve your immune system and reduce your risk for being sick. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any new treatment or if you make significant lifestyle changes.
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