In the current climate, health is on everyone’s mind.
We are washing our hands incessantly, wiping down surfaces, standing six feet away from each other, and running a mile when someone coughs.
Dr. Kaite Deming, Radiation Oncologist, offers five tips for anyone looking for ways to give your immune system a little boost.
Sleep plays a vital role in immune function. Studies show that a lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can increase your risk of getting sick after exposure to a virus. For most adults, aim for seven to eight hours per night.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, Dr. Deming suggests minimizing blue light from electronics in the evening. Set your phone to ‘dark mode’ at sunset and make sure to turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed.
It’s not surprising that physical activity is a great way to lower stress. Still, it also facilitates the transportation of infection-fighting white blood cells from the blood into the tissues of the body.
That doesn’t mean you need to run out and buy equipment for a home gym. Walking is an excellent form of activity and provides the perfect excuse to get outside. If the weather keeps you from getting your steps in, try free apps like FitOn or Nike Training Club for more structured workouts.
Aim for 30 minutes a day.
There are fundamental principles of nutrition that will help your body fight infections.
Deficiencies in micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can alter the immune response. You are likely to get all the micronutrients and minerals needed if you eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits (1.5 – 2 cups per day) and vegetables (2-3 cups per day). If not, consider adding a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to your diet.
Social Distancing is a proven vital strategy against COVID-19. However, it’s essential to try and stay connected to friends, family, and coworkers. Isolation can cause significant stress and other health problems.
Find some time to digitally connect via FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangout, or other online video conferencing platforms.
If you are sheltering in place with your family, holding hands and hugging can be therapeutic. (of course, after proper handwashing)
It’s crucial to find healthy ways of managing stress in your life. When we are stressed, it reduces our immune system’s ability to fight off antigens, making us more susceptible to infections. Dr. Deming says the stress hormone corticosteroid can lower the number of infection-fighting white blood cells.
Use some of the tips above to help reduce stress; exercise, connection, sleep, and diet. Here’s another resource for more stress management tips.
We hope these tips will help keep you and your family healthy.