As COVID-19 spreads across the United States, we are all looking for ways to protect ourselves. Taking steps that help in boosting the immune system is always beneficial. More robust immune systems have a better chance of fighting this virus.
Continue reading to learn ways to build up your immune system.
How the Immune System Works
When the body detects a dangerous substance in the body, the immune system goes into action. B lymphocytes tell the body to start making antibodies to fight the threat. These antibodies lock onto the antigen (foreign body) and signal the body to destroy it.
Once our body makes specific antibodies, they remain to fight that antigen in the future. Immunity describes this readiness to fight a particular antigen.
Antibodies can’t fight threats alone. T cells, sometimes called “killer cells,” respond to the antibody’s signal. These T cells then activate other cells called phagocytes.
The result is the destruction of the antibody-tagged antigen cells. Antibodies also activate a particular group of proteins called “complements.” These proteins are part of the immune system and help kill bacteria and viruses.
How the COVID-19 Virus Affects the Immune System
When the COVID-19 virus gets into the body, it targets the lungs. Inside the lungs, this virus binds to two types of cells.
One is goblet cells, which make mucus. The other is cilia cells, which keep foreign matter such as dust and pollen out of the lungs.
The virus begins killing these cells, and this causes the lungs to fill with fluid makes it more difficult to breathe.
It’s believed that this phase of the illness lasts about a week. During this time, your immune system starts trying to fight the virus. The fever is part of the immune response that strives to create a hostile environment for the virus.
The cough and runny nose occur as the body tries to get rid of the extra mucus. Older people and those with other health problems often have an abnormal response. Their immune system may become overactive and start killing healthy cells.
The overactive immune response starts a “cytokine storm.” This means that white blood cells stimulate chemicals. These chemicals start leaking into the lungs and increases the damage.
Some individuals may also develop a bacterial infection due to the compromised immune system. Organ failure and death can result from the effects of the virus and the immune system combined.
Approaches for Boosting the Immune System
Since no humans have previous exposure to the COVID-19 virus before, no one has antibodies to fight it. This means that we need to work on optimizing our immune system. The following describes ways to work toward this goal.
Get Quality Sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining your health. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body starts making fewer cytokines. Cytokines are unique proteins that target swelling and infection.
Sleep stimulates the production and release of cytokines. Flu vaccines are less effective in those who don’t have adequate cytokines to create a response. Lack of sleep also impacts heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
It’s recommended that most people get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Napping 30 minutes twice a day helps decrease stress and offset sleep deprivation.
Work on Wellness Strategies
It’s also essential to practice proper handwashing with soap and water throughout the day. Avoid touching any part of your face unless you have washed your hands. Get a flu shot every year to help increase your antibodies.
Try to stay away from people who are sick and practice coughing or sneezing into your elbow. This decreases the number of germs you spread into the air.
Also, drinking plenty of fluids helps rid your body of toxins.
Scientists found that stress decreases your immune system’s ability to function normally. So, stress makes it harder for your body to fight infection. Managing stress and building positive interpersonal relationships enhances our daily health.
There are several ways you can improve your stress management.
Exercise causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins affect your mood and decrease cortisol hormone levels. Stress causes the release of cortisol.
Choose an activity that you enjoy, and that fits your body and lifestyle. You may enjoy running, jogging, or walking. Some people prefer yoga, dance, sports, or meditation.
Take a mental stress break. Find activities that allow you to divert your attention away from stressful thoughts.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Most of our “comfort food” is not helpful or healthful for our bodies. If your body doesn’t get the vitamins and nutrients it needs, it’s not able to function at peak levels. This increases your risk of disease.
Work on putting natural stress-relieving foods into your daily routine. Examples include blueberries, milk, salmon, green tea, yogurt, avocado, and nuts.
Another great addition is dark chocolate. No, this isn’t an “autocorrect” mistake. It contains:
- Soluble fiber
If you eat 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate each day, you will get a moderate amount of sugar and an additional 600 calories. For that reason, eat this in moderation.
Importance of Immunity Supplements
There are several immune-boosting supplements. The following list describes supplements you may wish to consider. Before taking supplements, talk with your doctor, and make sure they won’t interfere with other medications.
Some people are demonstrating mild effects when they contract COVID-19. The belief is that their immune system can fight off the virus. Before we had antibiotics, scientists studied “host” factors that boost the immune system.
Since we don’t have the antibodies or an effective vaccine, it’s time to revisit these host factors. The factors are thought to include Vitamins A and C, and zinc.
The most studied and the one that appears to impact the survival of COVID-19 is vitamin D.
Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin when exposed to ultraviolet B sunlight. People with low levels of vitamin D often include the obese, elderly, and those with dark skin.
These individuals may need 5,000 IU of vitamin D supplement every day. This appears to provide the appropriate level to protect against viral respiratory infections.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of cartilage, bones, and blood vessels. It also supports your immune system, improves healing. Vitamin C’s antioxidant effects protect your cells from the effects of free radicals.
Free radicals are known to contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Vitamin C also increases the absorption and storage of iron in the body.
Your body doesn’t make vitamin C on its own. Thus, you must get it from your diet or supplements. The recommended daily dose is 90 mg for adult men and 75 mg for adult women.
Elderberries contain antioxidants and vitamins. These help to boost your immune system. They also decrease stress and swelling and protect your heart and lungs. Talk to your doctor about how much is safe for you to take each day.
Echinacea Purpurea, Glycyrrhiza glabra, and Astragalus Health Benefits
The three herbs, Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceous, and Glycyrrhiza glabra boost the immune system. They work by stimulating the immune cells. When taken together, the activation begins within 24 hours and lasts for seven days.
A trace element, called zinc, is a vital micronutrient for humans. This means it’s needed in small amounts to maintain optimum health. You must get this nutrient from your diet since the body can’t make it.
Zinc helps the body in the following ways.
- With enzyme function
- With immune function and healing
- Making DNA and reproductive development
- Supports the sense of taste and smell
- Regulates the production, storage, and release of insulin
- Produces the active form of vitamin A
- Aids thyroid function
Zinc is needed for over 100 specific enzymes to function normally.
Are You Concerned About Optimizing Your Health?
With the current threat of contracting COVID-19, boosting the immune system has become vital. This article has covered many different ways to increase your health and wellness. At this point, physical distancing and wellness are our best defenses.
Ageless Nutrition wants to help you stay healthy. We bring science and nature together for the best natural products. Our ingredients come from all parts of the world.
They’re combined into the most innovative, synergistic formulas to keep you healthy and fit. These products not only maintain health but also help athletes reach their goals.
Many of us have an active lifestyle that creates holes in our nutrition. This is where our natural supplements can help you maintain your wellness goals. Contact us today to ask questions and learn more about staying healthy during this time of the pandemic.