Immunity and COVID: How to Stay Prepared
It’s safe to say that most of us had high expectations for 2020. No one could’ve predicted the sheer carnage COVID-19 brought to the world. Well, actually most infectious disease experts and researchers could, but that’s a different story for a different day. Today, the modern world as we know it has been brought to its knees by what we know as the coronavirus, a deadly pathogen causing highly infectious symptoms, often preying on the elderly and immuno-compromised.
It is commonly believed that poor immunity is reserved for cancer patients, AIDS patients, autoimmune disease patients, asthmatics, and those suffering from lifestyle diseases like diabetes. This isn’t entirely true. While the above examples do definitely appear on the coronavirus hit list, having a poor immunity isn’t necessarily reserved for those already sick. If you have recurring colds, high stress levels, slow-healing cuts and wounds, persistent tiredness, frequent infections, and commonly-occurring tummy troubles, you are experiencing tell-tale low immunity symptoms. There are also several studies to show that the typical American diet results in obesity and a high BMI, increasing the risk of infection. The evidence is overwhelming; Americans need to take better care of their immunity. Here are the best supplements to help you do just that
1. Vitamin D: A fat-soluble vitamin essential for immune function, this nutrient enhances the activity of pathogen-fighting white blood cells, reduces inflammation, and protects against upper respiratory tract infections. Unfortunately, most people across the globe, especially in temperate climates, are deficient in this vitamin, which makes it all the more important to take a supplement.
Suggested Use: Take one supplement a day or as recommended by a registered dietician.
2. Vitamin C: You probably already know about this one; vitamin C is the most popularly consumed supplement. Besides being immunity’s biggest supporter, it also helps in cell regeneration by getting rid of old, dead cells, and creating new ones. There are studies to show that vitamin C also reduces the severity and duration of respiratory tract infections, and thus helps manage coronavirus early symptoms.
Suggested Use: Take 1-2 a day with a meal, or as recommended by a registered dietician.
3. Medicinal mushrooms: Ancient Asian medicine has long practiced and promoted the benefits of mushrooms like cordyceps, reishi, maitake, lion’s mane, shitake, and turkey tail in boosting immunity. Research shows that certain mushrooms are incredibly helpful in reducing lung infections and improving the body’s immune response to bacteria. They can be consumed in the form of teas, tinctures, and capsules.
Suggested Use: The potency of mushrooms varies from species to species, so it is recommended to follow the instructions given on the package. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
4. Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral in the proper functioning of the immune system. It helps with the body’s response to inflammation, thereby decreasing the risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia. It also helps reduce the duration for which people experience the common cold.
Suggested Use: The maximum dosage of zinc per day is 40mg, and is most commonly taken as a tablet. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
5. Elderberry: This berry (Sambucus nigra) native to the mountainous regions of northern America is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. An analysis of 4 studies showed that elderberry significantly reduced the effects of viral respiratory infections in 180 test subjects. Similarly, there are many research studies either underway or already proving the immense benefits of this herb. It is available in capsule or syrup form.
Suggested Use: The potency of elderberry varies depending on what form it is being consumed in, so it is recommended to follow the instructions given on the package. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.
While taking supplements isn’t the cure for improving your COVID immunity, it definitely helps prevent infections by enhancing a low immune system. Besides various herbs and vitamins, there are easy lifestyle changes that can be made to improve immune function and keep from adding to the coronavirus death rate. These include the following:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
- Make sure to get 7-8 hours of continuous sleep every night.
- Exercise regularly, and stick to your exercise routine.
- Reduce alcohol consumption and take steps to try and quit smoking.
- Manage stress through yoga, meditation, tai chi, or massage therapy.
- Keep up to date with your vaccinations