By: Mir Nelofar Nazir
COVID- 19 or coronavirus was declared as a global pandemic by the world Health Organization.The disease is caused by the SARS -CoV -2 virus,and while the countries are grappling with imminent dangers that this virus poses to humanity ,there are few golden measures that individuals can take to fight this pandemic.
While many guidelines have been issued by WHO to prevent from getting infection like washing your hands frequently with alcohol based hand rub or soap and water, wearing a properly fitted mask when physical distancing is not possible and in poorly ventilated settings,keeping physical distance of atleast one metre from others ,even if they don’t appear to be sick .Avoid crowds and close contact,there are also certain methods to boost your immunity.Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect your body from infections and diseases but as you grow older your immunity reduces making you more prone to infection also individuals in certain pre-existing illness like diabetes, hypertension, cardio vascular disease and respiratory issues are at a higher risk of having COVID -19 complications.In the younger generation with no underlying illness ,COVID -19 can result in a minor infection,provided you have a robust immunity and do not engage in activities like smoking, alcohol consumption.Here is a list of measures you can undertake to improve your immunity.
1.Improve your diet:The food you eat plays a key aspect in determining your overall health and immunity.Make sure to consume low carbohydrate diet ,as this will help control high blood pressure and high blood sugar.Eat fruits and vegetables rich in Beta carotene, Ascorbic acid and other essential vitamins.Certain foods like mushrooms, tomato,bell pepper and green vegetables like broccoli ,spinach are good options to boost your immunity.Onion ,garlic,ginger and vegetables like carrot and pumpkin are rich in antioxidants essential for building up the immune system.Fermented food items such as miso, yogurt,curd, buttermilk,and home made pickles encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut.With high levels of good bacteria comes stronger immunity.Garlic,basal leaves,black cumin ,sunflower seeds,flax seeds,pumpkin seeds and melon seeds are excellent sources of protein and Vitamin E thus help in boosting immunity.
- Stay hydrated:Drink up to 8-10 glasses of water every day to stay hydrated.Hydration will help flush out the toxins from the body and lower the chances of flu.
3.Exercising regularly: Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week .There are many YouTube channels like The Fitness Marshall,Popsugar Fitness ,Yoga with Adriene to help you exercise at home .
4.Adequate sleep:We heal when we sleep .A healthy immune system can fight off infections more than a sleep deprived immune system.Good snooze time for 7-8 hours is the best way to help your body build immunity.
5.Lower stress levels: Although you should practice lowering your stress levels year round, practicing amid this virus outbreak is particularly important as stress directly impacts your immune system.Find way to lower stress levels by meditating,exercising and controlled breathing techniques.
6.Avoid Smoking, alcohol and other addictive substances:
Certain habits like smoking, vaping, alcohol consumption and substance abuse have a direct correlation between weakened body defences and respiratory illnesses. Engaging in smoking and vaping is proven to weaken your lung capacity and destroy the cells lining your respiratory tracts, these cells are crucial to fight viruses that enter through your nasal orifices. There is new research claiming that individuals who engage in heavy alcohol consumption tend to suffer from ARDS (Acute Respiratory distress syndrome) which is one of the conditions caused by Covid 19 infection. Practice moderation, if you are dependent on any of these, as sudden withdrawal can also prove to be risky.
- Supplements and immunity boosting foods:
While all the above-mentioned tips will definitely help, the need of the hour is a quick boost to your immune system to keep it fighting fit. If you’re concerned whether you are getting the right amount of nutrients from your diet, consult with your doctor about a supplementation regimen to boost your immune system. Here are a few common supplements and superfoods that can help.
This particular vitamin is a crucial participant in the army of immunity. It helps prevent the common cold. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and protects against damage induced by oxidative stress. For severe infections, including sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), high dose intravenous vitamin C treatment has been shown to significantly improve symptoms in patients.
Vitamin D supplements have a mild protective effect against respiratory tract infections. Most people are deficient in Vitamin-D, so it’s best to consult with a doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement to boost immune response.
Zinc is a vital component to WBC (white blood corpuscles) which fights infections. Zinc deficiency often makes one more susceptible to flu, cold and other viral infections. It is advisable to take a zinc supplement, especially for older people.
Elderberries are full of nutrients including minerals like phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper and vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, and C, proteins and dietary fibre. Elderberries have antibacterial and antiviral qualities which help fight cold and influenza.
Turmeric and Garlic
The bright yellow spice, Turmeric, contains a compound called curcumin, which boosts the immune function. Garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which enhances body immunity.
While the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic is fought by our health care workers, we can do our bit by limiting our exposure to the virus by staying indoors, social distancing, eating healthy, hydrating and following basic hygiene protocol.
(Author is PG scholar Dietics, Tutor/Sr.technologist at kidney hospital Srinagar. Can be reached at [email protected])