If you’re looking for ways to boost your immune system right now, you’re not alone. COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is continuing to spread across the country, and the number of cases in Florida alone has skyrocketed over the past month.
Despite a number of false treatments being touted by various bloggers and politicians, there is currently no licensed medication known to cure the virus — there likely won’t be until a vaccine is approved. So, what can you do to protect yourself in the meantime? In addition to taking basic precautions (e.g. wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, etc.), now is a great time to focus on natural ways to boost your immune system.
To reiterate, these are not cures or guaranteed preventions, but rather effective ways to improve your immune system’s functionality and give your body a better chance against contracting the virus. As Dr. Ronald Hoffman wrote before his list of helpful vitamins and supplements:
“By no means do I intend to imply that there are facile answers to these contemporary scourges; it would be unethical to exploit these catastrophes to promote ‘natural’ cures when we know so little about these diseases. But amid the total absence of effective ‘magic bullet’ drugs, it makes sense to pay attention to our bodies’ ‘terrain,’ which determines whether we will catch or how we will survive an infection.” (though Dr. Hoffman was writing in response to past viruses such as Ebola, the same ethos applies.)
With that in mind, here are three easy steps you can take to boost your immune system.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your immune system. The nutrients you get from the food you eat — especially from plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices — are essential to keeping your immune system functioning properly.
In addition to incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, you can increase your intake of helpful nutrients through vitamins and supplements. A quick Google search will yield an overwhelming amount of articles listing immune-boosting supplements, but here are a few major ones ones to keep in mind and in-store recommendations for each:
- New Chapter Elderberry Syrup Advanced Immune Defense (BOGO @ Tunie’s)
- Vitamin C
- New Chapter Fermented Activated C Complex (BOGO @ Tunie’s)
- Vitamin A & D
- Carlson Vitamin A&D 15000 IU
- Vitamins B6 and B12
- Solgar B6 100 mg (BOGO @ Tunie’s)
- Solgar B12 2500 mcg (BOGO @Tunie’s)
- Vitamin E
- Solgar Liquid Vitamin E 2000 IU (BOGO @ Tunie’s)
- Garden of Life Raw Zinc 30 mg (BOGO @ Tunie’s)
- Country Life Selenium Yeast Free 100 mcg
- Beta Glucans
- Jarrow Formulas Beta Glucan 250 mg
- Manuka Honey
- Wedderspoon Manuka Immunity Gummies Berry Flavored w/ Probiotic
- Beekeepers Naturals B.Powered Superfood Honey
A 2015 medical review found that long-term stress can lead to chronically elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone used when your body initiates a fight-or-flight response. While this is helpful in the short-term, consistently high levels of cortisol essentially blocks your immune system from protecting your body from germs and viruses. So, any actions you can take to decrease your stress levels (which, we know, is a bit of a tall order in 2020) will help you improve your immune function. Here are a few ideas:
- Exercise — As many studies have shown, frequent exercise enhances immune function and lowers incidence of communicable and non-communicable diseases, especially in older populations. So, try to set aside some time each day to get your body moving. Whatever your preferred workout — going for a socially distanced run on the beach, following at-home yoga or pilates videos on Youtube, visiting a local gym such as LA Fitness or Orange Theory — you’ll find yourself happier and healthier once you get your heart rate up.
- Meditation — Meditation is one of the oldest and easiest ways to reduce stress. All you need to do is set aside ten minutes a day to sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. If you’re having trouble quieting your mind, you can choose from a variety of helpful apps such as Headspace or Calm to get your started. You can also sign up for classes at our local mindfulness center, the West Broward Insight Meditation Community, which is currently hosting guided meditation sessions over Zoom. Ohhhmmmmm…
- Floatation Therapy — If you’ve never heard of float therapy, it’s a practice that achieves sensory deprivation, giving your mind and body a break from the constant external stimuli it experiences on a daily basis. You float effortlessly atop an Epsom salt solution inside an isolation tank, essentially simulating a zero-gravity environment that, in addition to relieving stress and boosting your immune system, has been shown to enhance focus and creativity, accelerate muscle recovery, ease chronic pain, and decrease blood pressure. Our friends at Float8 Wellness Center would be happy to introduce you to this wondrous practice. Use the promo code Tunie’s when you call to schedule your first float and get an exclusive discount.
Develop healthy lifestyle habits
In general, a healthy body and healthy mind = a healthy immune system. So, now more than ever it’s important to try to incorporate healthier habits into your daily routine. Here are a few ideas:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule — When you’re asleep, your body heals, relaxes, and regenerates, so regularly getting a full night’s sleep is absolutely essential to proper immune function. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night. The best way to ensure you’re achieving that is to establish a regular bedtime routine and schedule; try to go to bed and get up at the same times each day. You can also try taking melatonin, a useful supplement that helps to regulate your sleep cycles. If you’re still struggling, check out these handy tips for getting a good night’s rest.
- Cut back on the booze — This probably isn’t what anybody wants to hear right now, but the medical community has consistently observed a correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and poor immune function. Does this mean you have to quit drinking completely? Of course not. But limiting your intake and refraining from intense binge-drinking will help your body keep its immune system up and running. If the thought of an empty liquor cabinet is bumming you out, the extensive selection of kombucha and probiotic drinks Tunie’s offers everything you need to stay cool and healthy on a hot summer day.
- Quit smoking — It’s tempting to reach for go-to vices during times like these, but just like alcohol, smoking is very clearly linked to immune suppression. If you decide that now is the time to quit, the CDC has a landing page with tons of helpful tips and resources to guide you along that journey.
These are tough times, no doubt. But the cliché is true — we’re all in this together. From plant-based foods, to nutrition-focused blood tests, to healthy substitutes for immune-suppressing vices, your favorite neighborhood grocery store is here to get you through this.New C