Coronavirus/COVID-19: What Can You Do?
There has been a tremendous amount of coverage concerning the coronavirus, whether on the news or the internet. Although some of this information is honest there is a far larger portion that is riddled with misinformation and is only aimed at creating panic. First we will get into the facts about the coronavirus, what those facts mean to us, and then we will discuss some of the ways that you can best protect yourself and the people around you.
- According to the WHO coronaviruses are actually a classification of viruses that include the common cold
- According to the CDC the main symptoms of this coronavirus are: cough, fever, and shortness of breath
- According to the CDC as of March 16th there have been 3,487 cases in the U.S. and 68 deaths
- According to the WHO as of March 17th there have been 173,344 cases worldwide and 7,019 deaths
- According to the CDC the groups that are most likely to have serious complications from the virus are those who are elderly and those suffering from life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease
- If you are not elderly and/or do not have serious chronic health conditions then COVID-19 is just a flu that is more easily transmitted than the standard flu
- Those that are advanced in age and/or have serious chronic health conditions need to do everything they can to avoid leaving their homes as they are at a far greater risk of having complications from the virus
Now that we have a better understanding of what COVID-19 is let’s take a look at some of the things that we can all do to keep our immune systems functioning their best. This will give your body the best possible chance to come out triumphant in the fight with the coronavirus and may even prevent you from coming down with it in the first place. Let’s dive into the 3 biggest things that you should be doing to keep your immune system at full strength.
1. Eating a Healthy Diet
If you are someone that either doesn’t pay attention to what they eat or simply doesn’t care then you are putting your body in severe risk for contracting any and all bugs, not just the coronavirus. If you take a moment and Google “diet effect on immune system” you will be bombarded by tons of articles from very reputable sources such as: Harvard Health, NCBI, Cleveland Clinic and many more. Our diet has a tremendous effect on our overall health and our immune function is no exception. A diet that covers a wide variety of nutritional requirements such as: essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins A, B6, B9, B12, C, and E are all extremely important. Minerals are also very important. Copper, iron, selenium, and zinc are just a few of the many minerals that keep our body firing on all cylinders. The amazing thing is that if you are deficient in any of these vitamins or minerals you are not stuck that way. Numerous studies have shown that either through supplementation or eating foods high in those vitamins and minerals you can raise those levels back to normal.
2. Getting Adequate Amounts of Sleep
Sleep is another incredibly important component to maintaining a well functioning immune system and is often underappreciated. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.” Getting enough sleep allows your body to have its defenses in place and ready to deal with incoming viruses or bacterial infections. You’re probably asking yourself, how much sleep do I need for this to take full effect? Most research supports that getting 8 hours is optimal for adults and 10+ hours is optimal for children and teens.
3. Exercising Regularly
Exercise’s contribution to proper immune system function is often overlooked. There are a few ways that researchers have determined that exercise aids immune system function. The first is that exercising promotes good cardiovascular health, healthy body weight, and lowers blood pressure. Promoting good health overall and preventing any chronic conditions goes a long way to reducing your vulnerability. The second way is that it improves circulation. When we exercise our heart rate increases and in turn pushes the blood around our body at a faster rate. Our blood contains many useful immune system tools including white blood cells and antibodies. The third and final way that exercise supports a healthy immune system is through stress relief. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress and this in turn takes the body’s focus away from the sympathetic nervous system and focuses it on the parasympathetic nervous system. Unlike the sympathetic nervous system, which focuses the body’s resources only on things needed for short-term survival, the parasympathetic nervous system focuses on our body’s overall health and longevity. The parasympathetic nervous system revolves around allowing the body to heal and repair, allowing our blood supply to go to our important immune system organs such as the spleen and thymus, to name a few.
I hope that after reading to this point that you feel a little calmer about the coronavirus and a little more confident knowing that there are things that you can be doing to boost your immune system. Whether you actually contract COVID-19 or not it is crucial to take the steps necessary to keep your body prepared. The coronavirus, although easily spread, has not shown to be extremely deadly. However, this will not be last pandemic that we as human-beings have to endure. Do yourself a favor and take a proactive approach to your health and your immunity. In closing I want to wish all of you the best of health and for those who have already contracted the virus, a speedy recovery.