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Ways to Boost Your Immune System During the Pandemic

Yourgutt

March 3, 2021

Your body’s immune system is incredibly important in fighting off illnesses especially during a covid-19 pandemic outbreak. It is so important that improving one’s immune system is considered one of the effective treatments for covid patients along with medications given. 

The nature of viruses is that there are no/limited medications that can be used to “kill” viral infection, unlike bacterial infection which antibiotics could be used. Hence, in Malaysia, treatments for covid-19 patients are often targeted in covid-19 symptoms such as pneumonia, fever, and flu. In order to aid in speed up recovery of covid-19 patients, supplements and other dietary and lifestyle therapy were given to improve the patient’s immune system which allow self-recovery from covid-19.

People who have chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and comorbidities may have higher risk of getting complications with covid-19. Sign and symptoms of individuals with comorbidities could experience more severe complications compared to healthy individuals.

However, having a good immune system means you’re allowed to forego basic hygiene standards such as hand washing, sanitizing, and wearing face masks.

Here are 6 ways to boost your immune system even during a pandemic outbreak. 

One important tip is that being consistent and determined in incorporating these ways into your lifestyle is important in boosting your immune system. Doing it for a short term will not be effective.

Adequate sleep

Ever felt like dying when you were sleep deprived? Not sleeping enough could not only impact your energy level, it could also lower your immune system. When you lack sleep for consecutive days, you’ll notice you start to have aches, pain, and fall sick after. Why is that and how are they related?

With the lack of sleep, our bodies are unable to properly heal, restore, repair cells and tissues to remain its optimum function. Furthermore, it causes production of cytokines which would lead to inflammation in our bodies. Prolonged inflammation would reduce our immune system function hence, leaving us vulnerable.

The general rule of thumb is to obtain 8-10 hours of sleep for adults and 9-12 hours for adolescents. However, these recommended sleeping hours may not apply for everyone, so don’t go around calling out those who sleep more or less than the recommended hours because some underlying issues may affect sleep.

People with sleep difficulty or insomnia may have imbalance circadian rhythms, which is the hormones released before, during, and after sleep which regulates sleepiness, wakeness, and sleeping hour. Tips on sleep difficulty is to:

  • Reduce blue light (from TV, smartphones, lights) as they could increase production of stress hormones which leads to difficulty to sleep.
  • Reduce food intake before bed as having a full stomach may cause discomfort.
  • Get routine to sleep eg: prepare and sleep in consistent timing, even if you can fall asleep at first. This is to condition your body that it is bedtime.
  • Consider melatonin supplements if required. Talk to your general practitioner for melatonin/sedative medication. 

 

Healthy/Balanced diet

Eating healthier food would always be one of the options in treatments, management, and prevention of diseases, do you ever wonder why? Eating healthier food could provide your body enough vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and health fats so that your organs could function, repair, and maintain itself in optimal condition. Of course, eating healthier food does not mean shoving salads and drinking celery juice every meal or eating “clean”. 

For a healthier individual, consuming normal food or home cooked food that are not excessively seasoned, processed, burnt, and contains less amount of added sugar, trans fat and moderate amount of fat is  considered a healthy food. Because it’s not only about the type of food consumed, it’s also about the portion size. Eg: eating a half a kg of carrot is just as unhealthy as eating a pack of fries, and you might even turn orange afterwards. 

An easy tip for portion size for each meal is protein should be a palm size, rice is a fist size, and vegetables are two palm size. 

Reduce stress

When you are under stress, your body produces a chemical called cytokines which could cause inflammation in your body and this will affect your body to unable to function to its full potential. If there is a virus, bacteria, fungal invasion, you have a higher chance of falling ill. In other words, your immune system is compromised due to stress. 

Of course there are many different types of stress, the stress referred here is bad stress, such as environmental, emotional and psychological stress. Some of the activities that could help in relieving stress can be summarise in the TikTok below:

@amoderntherapist

#boostyourmood #metime #tiktoktherapist #destress #itstartsontiktok

♬ You Got It - Vedo

Probiotic supplements

Having a healthy gut microbiome could really boost your immune system because our gut health is linked with many parts of our bodies and the immune system is one of them. Having an unhealthy gut would lead to having high risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), constipation, GERD, and other health complications which can be found in our health info section. 

How does having good bacteria be helpful in our immune system? Because it helps the existing bacteria in our gut to thrive and produce chemicals and hormones better. It can also prevents bad bacteria from invading our body through our intestine 

From a study where 158 participants supplemented with probiotics were found to have better immune response and lower virus found in their nasal mucus compared to the control group after 28 days (Turner et al., 2017).

You can get sources of probiotics from fermented foods such as:

  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Yoghurt

Probiotics supplements are great alternatives as well as they serve convenience and provide specified amounts of probiotic strains and cfu. You could check out our probiotic which contains complete biotics, prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic which is great in improving gut health.

Regular exercise

Performing moderate to vigorous exercise is able to boost the immune system tremendously. From heart pumping, muscle contracting and relaxing, and elevated heart rate and pressure, the act of exercising is able to stimulate our body to produce hormones that could strengthen our immune system. Because exercising can reduce inflammation in our body and help cells and tissues to regenerate better during sleep. 

A study has found that a single session of moderate exercise could improve efficacy of vaccines and also reduce inflammation among immunocompromised individuals (Simpson, Kunz, Agha & Graff, 2015)

Here is an easy 30 minutes moderate workout you could try and maybe incorporate into your daily routine.

Supplement with care

Supplements as the name suggests, are to supplement your daily food intake, medications, and lifestyle. They are not a magic capsule that could cure or treat diseases or infections. However, supplements can aid in improving our immune system as well as giving a boost to our body’s performance. For those who do not have balanced meals are recommended to consume multivitamins in order to obtain all of the required daily micronutrients. 

Furthermore, in recent treatment of COVID-19, Vitamin C was supplemented to aid in boosting the immune system on top of antiviral medications. Research groups with vitamin c supplementation were found to have better immune responses compared to control groups (Cheng, 2020). This does not mean you should start swallowing pills of Vitamin C, but to state that supplements such as Vitamin C are able to improve immune function.

Regardless of supplementation, getting micronutrients from food sources are still highly encouraged. You could check.

Recommended Reads:

  1. Probiotic for the pandemic : How gut microbiomes influence immunity and covid’s severity?

  2. About Prebiotic, Probiotic, and Postbiotic

  3. Bacterial overgrowth in your intestine (SIBO)

Reference

Cheng, R. (2020). Can early and high intravenous dose of vitamin C prevent and treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?. Medicine In Drug Discovery, 5, 100028. doi: 10.1016/j.medidd.2020.100028

Simpson, R., Kunz, H., Agha, N., & Graff, R. (2015). Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions. Progress In Molecular Biology And Translational Science, 355-380. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.08.001

Turner, R., Woodfolk, J., Borish, L., Steinke, J., Patrie, J., & Muehling, L. et al. (2017). Effect of probiotic on innate inflammatory response and viral shedding in experimental rhinovirus infection – a randomised controlled trial. Beneficial Microbes, 8(2), 207-215. doi: 10.3920/bm2016.0160

Melvin T

Melvin T

Graduated from UCSI University with BSc (Hons) in Nutrition with Wellness, Melvin decided to venture into research & development with past experiences in clinical setting, food service, and retail pharmacy. His goal is to formulate health products that are scientifically driven and culturally acceptable.

Furthermore, he is passionate in the science and art of preventing diseases and health education. Hence, he took the role as community nutritionist to advocate primary health care to the community.

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