COVID-19 has increased people’s desire to learn how they can stay healthy. And although there are certain measures that can reduce risk—like handwashing, good hygiene, masks, etc.—people want more.
There is currently no treatment or cure for this virus. But there is evidence that immunocompromised people bear the highest risk. This is not just the case for the coronavirus, but also other viral and bacterial infections.
Plenty of evidence suggests that a stronger immune system can result in a lower risk for illness and less severe symptoms if and when illness does hit. There is also evidence showing lifestyle measures like nutrition, activity levels, and sleep also influence immunity.
A diet that’s high in plant-based foods is one way to start boosting immune strength. There is some evidence that shows vegetarians have stronger white blood cells than non-vegetarians, which is likely tied to the nutrient and antioxidant density of this diet.
Diets high in plant-based foods may also help boost immunity by limiting inflammation in the body and improving gut health. Both of these factors can play a major role in your susceptibility to illness.
Nutrients and food compounds that may play some of the strongest roles in immune health include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, zinc, fiber, beta-carotene, and polyphenols like anthocyanin and flavonoids.
Additionally, there is evidence that regular activity can help bolster immune health. Exercise may charge up antibodies and white blood cells to help with illness, while it also may help flush out illness through the lungs and airways.
Combined with a healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, exercise could do you some real good.
One of the last pillars of a strong immune system is adequate quality sleep. Making sure your body has enough time to recover and recharge each day can go a long way in influencing your ability to stay healthy.
Almost inseparable from sleep is stress management. Of course, this is also the most difficult component of a healthy immune system. Some practices like mindfulness, yoga, and tai-chi can be effective in reducing stress.
Outlook can also help. Focusing on the things you can control in your life can help, but it really depends on what those things are. Sometimes the things we can’t control are the biggest stressors.
A healthy immune system is within the reach of many. But it is not a guarantee that you’ll stay healthy. At best, it can offer reduced risk and severity of illness.