Use the COVID-19 Crisis as an Opportunity to Optimize Your Immune System

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Jim Rohn

COVID-19 Dictating our Life

COVID-19, has dominated our consciousness for the past several months.  We have been encouraged to comply with physical distancing, staying six feet apart, staying at home as much as possible, covering coughs and sneezes, and considering a mask when out and about.  All these measures are designed to save ourselves and the rest of the planet, because this is the best we can do right now.

No COVID-19 Vaccine or Cure Currently

Unfortunately, there currently is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. This article focuses on optimizing your immune system because the only truly immune ‘boosters’, are vaccines. Of course, anyone that survives a COVID-19 infection will be immune–how long is unknown. Since January, vaccine development has become a global race. Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a White House briefing, “The ultimate game changer will be a vaccine…..”  When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, as many people as possible should get this vaccine! There should be as many people in line for this as there was for toilet paper.

Optimizing the Immune System, What to DO

Immunizations aside, fortunately, there are still quite a few things that can be done to optimize your immune system, the body’s natural defense against infections and other invaders.  The tips provided are not specific to coronavirus disease, but are for a healthy immune system in general. Remember there is no magic bullet. Taking a holistic approach will guarantee the most satisfaction and best results. Though you may see many claims about products that boost your immunity, much of what you need, can be found in your house.

“A lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance, weakens our immune system…”  

Dr. Deepak Chopra

1. The ZZZ’s– Quality sleep is essential to relaxing the mind and body. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep can help your immune function. It keeps the body from kicking out stress hormones like cortisol which can suppress the immune system.  

There is a race gap when it comes to quality sleep.  According to sleepfoundation.org, African Americans are more likely than whites to get less than 6 hours of sleep per night and have more sleep apnea, poor sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness. 

Tips for better sleep:  reduce caffeine, turn off the T.V. minimize activity pre-bedtime, etc.

2. Moving the Body- Try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise/physical activity most days of the week through dancing (show off your moves), walking, functional fitness- vacuuming, taking out the trash, etc. What is your favorite physical activity?  Exercise releases endorphins which are de-stress agents. All in all exercise slows the release of stress related hormones, increases levels of immune cells, and increases circulation (blood flow).

3. Reduce Stress–Everyone has stress and we are all under tremendous stress with COVID-19 concerns. However, chronic or persistent stress can weaken the immune system. Managing stress is vital to survive in this crisis. 

Ways to reduce stress can include meditation, spiritual or bible reading, connecting with friends (virtual these days), listening to music, coloring, etc.

4. Don’t Smoke/quit smoking– Smoking weakens the immune system by decreasing the effectiveness of cells that protect from invaders. It also damages the cilia (hair-like projections) in the lungs that are designed to cleanse the lungs.  Menthol and other flavors can make lung infections worse.  Menthol has been marketed to African Americans since the 1950’s.  Menthol makes it easier to smoke due to the cooling effect and harder to quit. The good news is that the immune system can recover shortly after quitting.

Here is a cultural resource for quitting: http://www.naatpn.org/pathways.

5. Have a Colorful Diet – Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables insures that that you are getting all the important nutrients, including micronutrients like zinc, folic acid, vitamin C, and others.  

The Institute of Functional Medicine notes, “Research indicates that brightly colored vegetables and fruits [enhance] immunity better than most supplements.” Eating sweet potatoes, berries, citrus, spinach, and kale are examples.

This great site gives more ideas: https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/

Besides fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil are components of a healthy diet, as well as probiotics which help to build up the good bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut helps optimize the immune system.

Vitamins C and D can potentially help in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

6. Stay Social-There was a pioneering study reported in 1997 by Dr. Sheldon Cohen.  It showed that subjects who had multiple, diverse contacts (job, family, etc.) over the study period were 4 times less likely to develop cold or flu even though all had been exposed to a virus.  Other research since then has confirmed the benefits of being social. With the physical distancing that is recommended, here are suggestions:  use gaming systems to play with friends anytime, anywhere; virtual happy hours; and virtual dinner parties.

7. Complementary Practices-Tea is the world’s most popular beverage after water.  Teas-black and green have components that may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.  We know these diseases increase the risk of developing COVID- 19 and having bad outcomes. 

Try these complementary beverages:

  • Earl Gray Black Tea
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Ginger ‘Tea’
  • Dark Purple Elderberry (Sambuca Nigra) Syrup. 

Getting Started

These tips are for lifelong healthiness, but why not get in the groove now while you are confined to your home space.  You don’t have to do them all at once.  Which one(s) will you start with?  What others would you add?

TEA CHASER

 The NBA is exploring rapid COVID-19 testing which they feel is needed before considering resumption of league play.  There is no timeline on when the test would be available.

Dr. TeaNT

Published by Dr.TeaNT

Active clinician winding down by writing the truth About health. Spilling the tea on the effects of COVID- 19 and more on the community.

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