For the last month or so we’ve been taught about all of the activities we need to partake in to help avoid germs like disinfecting high-touch surfaces and washing our hands for at least 20 seconds. We’ve also been taught about the things we need to do if we get sick, but we haven’t learned a ton about how to preventatively lower our chances of getting sick in the first place with actions like boosting our immune systems. Making your immune system stronger and more capable of fighting off illness is easy and you can do so without buying one single product by implementing these 5 actions for both adults and kids.
Avoid unhealthy habits – Smoking has many negative effects on the human body and decreasing immunity is another con associated with the habit. When it comes to the current health crises, if you’re a smoker, it can make it harder for your body to fight off the illness. Smoking can also make you more prone to conditions like lung and heart disease, which will make you more susceptible to experiencing complications is you do contract the disease.
Drinking in moderation is fine but if you find yourself having an extra quarantine drink or two daily to help ease stress, it may have an impact on your immune system. The CDC considers excessive drinking to be more than 8 drinks a week for a woman, and more than 15 for a man. Excessive drinking can also happen if you binge drink in a single setting. This means that if you’re a woman, you have more than 4 drinks in a 2 to 3 hour period and if you’re a man, you have more than 5 drinks in a 2 to 3 hour period. Too much drinking can make it harder for your body to resist the virus in the first place and fight it off if you do end up getting it.
Don’t neglect sleep – As a parent, this is already a difficult task, but with the kids home to homeschool and double the cleaning and cooking, getting a good night of sleep may seem impossible. It is and should be a priority however and should not be neglected. Even if you don’t have work to catch up or cleaning to do after the kids go to sleep, for many parents, the only time they get to themselves is at night after the kid are in bed. This time is valuable and needed for self-care but shouldn’t be prioritized over sleep but rather balanced with it. When you find yourself about to enter a binge and watch that next episode of your favorite show on Netflix, just remember that not only will an extra sleep help your feel better when getting through the day, but it will also help you to fight off illnesses!
Stay fit – Exercise is actually listed as an essential action and even in countries and states with the most strict of stay-at-home orders, people have been able to get outside and exercise. Exercise is not only good for mental health but for physical health as well and does wonders for your immune system. Exercise can help to boost your white blood cell count which helps you fight off infections and it also just helps you to be healthier overall. People who exercise regularly are more likely to be at a healthy weight range and less likely to develop diseases like high blood pressure of diabetes (family history aside). COVID-19 mortality rates have been highest for people with pre-existing conditions and doing your best to avoid getting these pre-existing conditions can be extremely impactful.
Eat healthy – This may seem obvious that fruits and vegetables loaded with vitamins should be a regular part of your diet but what most people don’t know is how much. Eating one or two servings of vegetables or fruits a day is probably not going to give your body much an immunity boost. The minimum recommendation for servings of fruits that you should eat in a day is 2 but that recommendation can be as high as 4 or 5 servings a day depending on which health organization is making the recommendation. The minimum recommendation for vegetable servings is 5 per day but some health experts say we should be eating up to 10 servings of vegetables per day.
Don’t neglect mental health – With so much talk about physical health and so much panic an hysteria, it seems as if mental health is completely neglected now. Being in a good state of mind, primarily when it comes to managing stress can have a huge impact on your immune system. When we're stressed out, our body’s ability to fight off infections is reduced. If stress feels like an everyday part of your life now, you may want to find some great ways to manage it, if not for your mental health than for your immune system.