6 tips to build immunity during pandemic

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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The new Covid-19 variant has ensured that the pandemic scare continues. But by improving your immunity, you can keep yourself and your loved ones guarded.

Our immune system is the body’s first line of defence against any infection. Most of the time, this immune system performs an exceptional job, protecting our body from bacteria and viruses that can cause harm. However, it can slip sometimes, causing infection and ill-health. In times of a global pandemic like Covid-19 where we must protect our body from the spread of a viral infection, this immune system is cardinal.

For good health, we must strengthen our immune system. The challenge lies in how to accomplish it. To achieve this goal, we have to remember that it’s a system, which implies that it is part of the whole. In other words, we cannot fortify it in isolation. To strengthen our immune system, we must work on our overall health. Changes in our diets and lifestyle can be critical in achieving this goal.

Here are 6 tips that can help improve your immunity in times like Covid-19:

1. Maintain a balanced diet

Your body needs a balanced diet to maintain good health. That means including all food groups in the appropriate quantity. A typical meal should include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Each of these essential nutrients play an important role in maintaining our health and neglecting any particular food can cause its deficiency which weakens the body. For instance, fats are necessary for absorption of essential nutrients and protecting our organs.

A balanced diet should provide around 50-60 percent of total calories from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates, about 10-15 percent from proteins and 20-30 percent from both visible and invisible fat.  In addition, a balanced diet should provide other non-nutrients such as dietary fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals which bestow positive health benefits.

2. Check your multivitamin supplements

Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in our immune system. Vitamin A, C, E, and D are some of the most critical vitamins that our immune system needs. These vitamins contain powerful antioxidants that both protect the body against free radicals that cause cell damage, while building the immune system. One study showed that vitamin C can help in preventing viral infections like  cold, shorten the disease course, and prevent complications.

Covid-19 and immunity
Multivitamins should not be skipped ever. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Folic acid, iron, selenium, and zinc are other essential nutrients that we need to strengthen our immune system with. However, these vitamins and minerals are not produced by the body and hence, must be taken ingested in food regularly. Multivitamin supplements are one of the most handy ways to supplement your diet.

3. Get enough sleep

The human body needs seven to eight hours of sound sleep to function properly. In your pursuit to strengthen your immune system, do not undermine the importance of a consistent and sufficient sleep schedule. . This helps in boosting the body’s immune response, fighting infection and curbing inflammation. Further, it is when we are sleeping, the body creates and releases white blood cells, which are imperative tools to reduce the chances of contracting diseases.

4. Keep stress at bay

Over the past few years, great emphasis has been given to understand the connection between mind and body. Conditions like stress not only tarnish your spirits but also have a detrimental impact on your well-being. Irrespective of its cause, stress instigates the production of cortisol, an element that suppresses the immune system. It reduces the body’s capacity to protect itself. In addition, it hampers the lymphocytes present in the blood as well as hinders communication between white blood cells. Yoga and meditation are some promising ways to channelise your thoughts and avoid stress. You can even go for a walk and listen to some music, as all these activities relax both the mind and body.

Covid-19 and immunity
Stress is not worth it! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

 

5. Stay hydrated

It is a well known fact that one must drink at least 2 liters or 8 glasses of water daily.  A wonder liquid, water has a plethora of benefits. A robust immune system is one of the primary advantages of consuming ample amounts of water.  Water helps in flushing out toxins and other harmful substances from the body as well. Even if you are suffering from any ailment, it is advisable to drink as much water as possible.  You can add some mint leaves or squeeze a lemon for a change.

6. Say no to smoking

A very harmful habit, smoking has disastrous effects on your body. Smoking even damages our lungs.  It disturbs the equilibrium of your immune system, leaving it in a fragile state, unable to fight any disease or infection.  As per several research reports, it even triggers autoimmune disorders, wherein the immune system malfunctions and starts harming the body’s healthy cells and tissues. Though quitting this habit requires sincere determination, you can even take help of various products like anti-smoking gums, nicotine patches, lozenges and others.

By making a few lifestyle changes, you can have a healthy immune system. Make choices that promote your well-being and do not harm your immunity.

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