How to Boost your Immunity During This Pandemic

A review article in the Scientific American looked at the myths and facts around immunity boosting.  They suggested that there were no revolutionary ideas.

However, there are some evidence-based steps in order to maintain a healthy immune system:

  1. Smoking

The simple answer is do not.  Cigarette smokers are a much more vulnerable to respiratory infections although there is consequential evidence that cigarette smokers have had less severe COVID-19 infections.  The evidence of this is lacking. 

  • Maintain Nutrition

Ensure that you are eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other elements of a healthy diet.  Professor Fawzi at Harvard University says “eating an optimal diet reduces the risk of getting an infection and reducing the severity of infections”. 

  • Sleep Hygiene

Practice good sleep hygiene to ensure that you have an adequate nightly rest.

  • Exercise

Get regular exercise, which will also help your sleep.

  • Nutrients

Zinc supplements:  These are related to reduce respiratory infections and shorten the duration of related symptoms.  Deficiencies in zinc are more prevalent in less developed countries.  Zinc is found in meat/shellfish/nuts and whole grains. 

Vitamins: Vitamin C and D have been shown to improve resistance to respiratory infections. 

Vitamin C plays a role in reducing tissue damage by our own immune responses and it is therefore relevant to COVID-19 infection.  Oral doses of the vitamin have been shown to shorten the amount of time spent in an ICU and on a ventilator following heart surgery according to 2019 meta-analysis.

Vitamin D:  A 2017 meta analysis of 25 randomised controlled trials found that vitamin D supplements cut the risk of acute respiratory tract infections especially within people with low levels of the vitamin.

The message here is to take a basic multivitamin which would cover the supplementation.  Also, ensure that you are eating a balanced diet.  

  • Sleep 

This is known to play an essential role in bolstering defences.  Studies have shown that if people are deprived of sleep following administering of a vaccine, they produced a weaker antibody response than those who have slept.  It is thought that sleep enhances the migration of T-cells to the lymph nodes where they are activated against foreign molecules that trigger antibody production. 

An interesting study in 2015 measured average sleep duration for 164 healthy volunteers who had rhinovirus dripped into their nose.  Those who slept six hours or fewer were four times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept more than seven hours. 

In a study of 57,000 women those who slept five or fewer hours nightly were 40% more likely to have developed pneumonia over a four-year period than those who slept for eight hours.

Prolonged sleep loss can create a state of low grade inflammation and this seems to exhaust the immune system over time so it is unable to fight infections.  It is suggested that committing to a regular bedtime nightly routine with a healthy diet and multivitamins may help to prevent whatever health threats are prevalent.

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