The world has been swept up in a health crisis caused by a highly transmissible infectious disease, COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet, though we are hopeful that scientists will develop one for use in 2021. In the meantime, what can you do to improve your immune system and stay as healthy as possible during the pandemic?
Avoid Infection by Applying the Basics:
We are not going to belabor the point, but staying home and keeping your hands clean are critical. Data show that frequent hand-washing really can stop or dramatically slow the spread of infections. By now, we’ve all figured out a hand-washing song that takes at least 20 seconds while we scrub the palms and backs of the hands and in between all the fingers. The more frequently people wash, the less likely they are to spread germs around.
In addition, if you must go out in public, wear a mask. An ingenious study of hamsters in Hong Kong shows that it really does make a difference. Here, too, widespread adoption matters. The more people wear face masks, the better they work to prevent viral spread.
Don’t spend time indoors with anyone who might be sick. In fact, don’t spend much time near anyone who might be carrying the coronavirus. The likelihood of catching COVID-19 rises sharply with time and proximity.
Improve Your Immunity:
What can you do to help keep your immune system in tiptop shape?
Vitamins & Minerals:
You want to make sure to get enough vitamin C (100 to 200 mg/day) and vitamin D (800 to 3,000 IU/day) (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Aug. 21, 2019). Adequate amounts of zinc (30 to 40 mg/day) are also useful for supporting the immune response (Nutrients, Nov. 25, 2017).
There are a few supplements you may not have heard of that can be helpful. Consider quercetin, for example, at a dose of 500 mg twice daily. In addition, N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) can help boost your immune response to viruses.
Follow Your Grandmother’s Advice to Stay Healthy During the Pandemic:
It’s hard to go wrong, even in a pandemic, if you follow the solid advice your grandmother probably gave you when you were growing up
- Eat your vegetables (and stay away from junk food).
- Get a good night’s sleep (7 to 8 hours, if possible)
- Go out and play. Getting enough physical activity every day makes a big difference for physical and mental health. One way to do that safely even during the pandemic is to be outside, away from other people. If you can expose some of your skin to the sun, you may also boost your vitamin D levels.
- Take your cod liver oil. That’s for when you can’t get any sunshine because you are stuck inside for days on end!
- Stay connected to friends and family. Practicing safe physical distancing doesn’t mean you should be isolated. Your friends and family appreciate hearing from you by phone or electronic connection. (Some of the older ones might even like to get a letter delivered by the United States Postal Service.)
To learn more about all of this, you may want to watch a video we did for the local chapters of the AAUW when the pandemic made it impossible for us to speak at their planned meeting. Here is the link to the video on our YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1lrtIleaT8&feature=youtu.be Feel free to subscribe so you can be notified of future videos.