7 Tips to Boost Your Immune System Naturally in Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
It’s fair to say the world feels a little different at the moment thanks to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Its impact on social events, schools, sports leagues, and even entire countries is very real, and for good reason.
With the number of deaths and those fighting the virus steadily increasing, our feelings of unrest and the volatile state of our society and economy are unfortunately justified.
However, at its core, the issue we face is ultimately about our health and the health of those around us.
How can we keep ourselves from getting sick? And how can we keep our family, friends, co-workers, and communities safe as well? After all, it might be a while until we have an easily accessible vaccination.
There is a lot of readily available information from the Centers For Disease Prevention (CDC) about ways to decrease the likelihood of spreading the Coronavirus. And I’ll certainly touch on those, but I’m not necessarily seeing a lot of advice regarding how to better bulletproof your body against it.
So with this in mind, I’d like to focus on some simple strategies to boost your immune system and hopefully increase its ability to protect you against the Coronavirus or help you recover from it.
What is Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus is a respiratory illness much like the flu than can spread from person to person. It is believed to have originated from Wuhan, China at the end of 2019.
It is seen as a highly contagious illness now spreading throughout the world as more and more information comes to light.
What Are the Symptoms of Coronavirus
Common symptoms of Coronavirus include:
- Shortness of Breath
How to Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus?
Experts organizations like the CDC suggest the best course of action here is to limit the spread of Coronavirus.
They recommend the following:
- Avoid contact with those who are affected by the Coronavirus
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- Wash hands for 20 seconds
- If you do become sick, quarantine yourself and readily disinfect touched objects and surfaces
There’s nothing overly counter-intuitive here but it’s important to reaffirm good hygiene.
We need to be diligent until told otherwise if we are to limit the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
Having said this, we have a clear picture as to what we can do to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus, but not a lot of information on how we can strengthen our immune system as well.
Related: This recent study suggests a particular medication used for pancreatic inflammation may be effective in stopping the Coronavirus.
How to Boost Your Immune System
Not only should we be diligent in our attempts to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, but we need to make sure our body is at the top of its game when it counts.
Here are some simple ways to boost your immune system to potentially decrease the impact of Coronavirus on your life and those around you.
Get Enough Sleep
This one hopefully speaks for itself, but make an effort to get enough sleep each night.
Sleep deprivation makes your body function sub-optimally in so many ways, but suppressing your immune system is a huge one.
How often have you fallen sick after a few poor nights sleep in a row?
It’s hard to recommend the required amount of sleep you’ll need because, despite recommended hours ranging from 6-12 depending on your age, it’s really a personal thing.
So to keep things simple I’d like to set you a challenge. Aim for enough sleep so that you wake up feeling refreshed. Similarly, if you can’t function each morning without your treasured coffee, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your relationship and approach to sleep.
Furthermore, it often feels like it’s harder to squeeze more sleep into your day if you feel like you have a lot to do.
So not only should you focus on rearranging your day to allow for earlier nights where possible, but it may also help to optimize the sleep you are getting.
10 Tips For a Better Nights Sleep
- Blackout your room
- Keep the bedroom cool (degrees)
- Eye mask and earplugs
- Exercise during the day
- Blue-light filter on phone, computer
- Limit technology in the bedroom
- Foam roll, tennis ball your tissue
- Box Breathe
- Gut smash
- Place a higher priority on sleep
Enjoy a Cold Shower
A cold shower can be an unappealing thought. But it shouldn’t be. Its benefits for our immune system and overall health are significant.
Modern living often sees us shying away from changes in temperature. When it gets hot we turn on the airconditioning, and when it gets too cold we crank up the heater.
As a result, our body lacks important exposure to these extreme changes in temperature. The body has a number of physiological processes that just don’t get exercised by modern temperature-controlled living. And as it turns out a number of these support a healthy immune system and vascular system.
So in essence, a cold shower for a cold shower’s sake is not the goal. Instead, we want to gradually expose our body to the edges of its current capacity by using the convenience of a colder shower. That is, we want to expand its ability to naturally regulate against changes in temperature and simultaneously boost our immune system.
Related: This study found cold showers beneficial for reducing sick days.
How to Comfortably Tolerate a Cold Shower
The idea with a cold shower is not to leap straight in and hold on for dear life. Instead, have your regular shower and then turn down the temperature at the end.
You don’t have to go full cold in the beginning as the idea is to gradually challenge your limits.
Turn the water down to a temperature you can tolerate and calmly deep breathe. Once you feel ready, turn it down a little more and try to maintain a slow, deep breathing pattern. In no time you’ll be fully cold and feeling fine. The key is to keep your breathing in check and it’s ok for it to take a few days to get there.
With all the talk of event cancellations and quarantines, it important to remember that we still need to be moving around.
By all means, be smart about where you go and who is there, but this shouldn’t stop you from breaking a sweat.
Like sleep, exercise is magical for what it can do for your body and immune system.
The fitter you can be, the more robust your body and immune system will be. Get out in the fresh air and go for a walk, a job, a swim a bike ride, etc. Don’t stop doing what you love, perhaps just do it solo for a little while.
Related: Resistance training may be an effective treatment for depression.
Manage Your Stress
This can be easier said than done considering the increasing levels of stress associated with the Coronavirus. But its important we don’t let things get out of control.
Increased and prolonged exposure to stress can reduce your immune system’s ability to do its job. Couple this with poor sleep and lack of exercise and we have a potential recipe for disaster going forward.
The unfortunate reality is that many cant just click their fingers and remove the major stressors from their lives. Clearly there is stress from the unknown of the Coronavirus, but its also adding a layer of financial stress, relationship stress, work stress, social stress, etc on top.
As a result, we can be left living in a constant state of heightened stress, with a reduced ability to do anything about it.
Clearly we want to manage our stressors where possible, however, like our total hours of sleep, things can sometimes be beyond our immediate control.
Failing this, we need to focus on improving how your body copes with stress. We may not be able to control the cause of your stress, but we can absolutely optimize how you react to it.
3 Ways to Improve Your Ability to Cope With Stress:
- Optimize your sleep. Not only will better sleep boost your immune system, but it’ll also allow your body to better buffer any stress. A must-do if you’re struggling.
- Exercise. It’s no surprise how useful exercise is here too. Move more and you’ll feel better able to cope.
- Deep Breathe. This often sounds a little tacky, but conscious deep breathing can swiftly bring a heightened, stressed nervous system back down to normal. Use this in real-time to not only de-stress but pre-empt any upcoming stressful situations.
Practice the Wim Hof Method
One of the most novel ways I’ve seen to supercharge your immune system is the Wim Hof Breathing Method.
For those unaware, Wim is a very important person. He has developed a breathing method that uses cold exposure and focus to take conscious control of your nervous system and physiology.
It often sounds a bit farfetched to hear that for the first time, but it works. And it’s backed by science.
The idea here is to take 30-40 deep breaths until you feel yourself getting a little tingly or light-headed. Once hyper-oxygenated we fully exhale and stay in this state for as long as possible. Most should be able to last over a minute before needing to breathe in again.
The hyper-oxygenation helps rebalance an acidic system but also presents an opportunity to focus on improving the working order of things.
If you feel a slightly sore throat, use the exhaled state to focus in on that area and will your body to take action.
Feeling stressed? Focus on your body relaxing. Can’t sleep? Will your body to wind down and drift off. It’s insanely useful.
Related: 16 Everyday Uses for the Wim Hof Method
Practice Nasal Breathing
Continuing on with the breathing theme, many don’t realize that nasal breathing has ties to our immune system.
Thanks to stress, poor posture, and bad habits, many of us default to mouth breathing without realizing it.
As a result, we inadvertently bypass one of the body’s immune defense systems, the nose.
We often forget the mouth is actually part of the digestive system, whereas the nose directly syncs up with our respiratory system. More importantly, the nose has the distinct capacity to clean and filter the air we breathe – if we give it a chance.
So with this in mind, it’s important to begin to consciously assess how you breathe. Begin to keep your mouth shut and work those nostrils to give your immune system a little leg up.
Why not try and incorporate more nasal breathing into your next workout to help your body acclimate faster?
Focus on a Healthy Diet
This goes a little beyond my scope of expertise, but any conversation surrounding immune system health is incomplete without mentioning diet.
The foods and fluids we ingest matter. The healthier they are the better.
WebMD suggests a number of immune system-boosting foods of which are all fruits, vegetables and other healthy options. Fast food, refined sugar and alcohol, unfortunately, do not make the list.
If you can make small adjustments here or there to what you put into your body, you can continue to boost your immune system and better protect yourself from the Coronavirus.
In this stressful and challenging period of our lives it’s important to be educated and prepared.
Much of our focus needs to be on preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, however we should also take steps to bulletproof ourselves that little bit more.
The positive thing is that each of these suggestions will help give your immune system a boost, but also improve your general quality of life, which I think we could all use regardless.
So with the coronavirus bringing an edge of uncertainty to our lives, let’s wrest back a little more control and turn up the dial on our immune system’s ability to do its job if or when called upon.
Please stay safe, be diligent and we’ll see this through together.
What other tips do you have to boost your immune system?
Let me know in the comments below!
If you are concerned about the Coronavirus or would just like more information, you can keep abreast of things via the CDC here.