COVID-19 – what exactly is it?
There are a lot of unknowns at the moment – COVID-19 is a virus that appears to spread via respiratory droplets and seems to be spreading fast around the world. Since it’s a new virus (emerging in China in late 2019), there is not a lot of research that has been done, but there is a worldwide goal of preventing the spread of the virus – which is super important, but not a reason to freak out and stress about it (because stress and worry can also make you sick – more on that shortly).
My personal (and professional) view is that rather than focusing on “the unknown” and increasing fears around this virus, it’s important to take measures to help boost your immune system and stay as healthy as you can.
Naturopathic medicine has a multi-tiered approach for both treating colds and other respiratory viruses as well as keeping the immune system strong so as to reduce the likelihood of contracting a virus in the first place. This is especially important for those who are already immunocompromised.
Today, I’d love to share some tips that can help protect against viruses in general.
As mentioned, there is no specific research with any of these against COVID-19, because it’s so new, there’s a lot we don’t know. However, with the change in seasons, it’s important to support and strengthen your immune system and do the best that you can, so that you are creating a strong barrier to protect against viruses and other infections.
To start, the general messages you might have already heard are:
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,
Don’t touch your face,
Sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow
Stay at home if you’re feeling sick so that you can rest and don’t get anyone else sick.
These are all things that everyone should be practicing daily anyway!
Now, here are some of my tips to help you keep your immune system strong so that it can do the best job it needs to.
5 ways to boost your immune system:
Exercise! Now is not the time to be avoiding the gym if you’re feeling well – just make sure you wash your hands and wipe down all equipment you’re using. If you’re avoiding going out, exercising at home is a great alternative. Exercise is an excellent immune booster as it improves blood flow throughout the body (and a whole range of other benefits you can read about here in a previous post).
Consume a healthy diet and a good amount of water throughout the day. A diet high in lots of different coloured vegetables and fruit, good quality protein (meat, fish, eggs, legumes etc), good quality grains (such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, rye, barley etc), good quality fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds etc) and a diet low in processed foods has been linked to a strong immune system and a lower incidence of disease.
Get good quality sleep, aiming for around 7-8 hours a night. Not enough sleep has been shown to decrease immune function – and you’re trying to keep your immune system strong right now, so focus on your sleep!
Minimize your stress levels – high amounts of stress have also been shown to decrease immune function and impact the body negatively. Rather than stressing about the virus, I encourage you to do something positive to try and protect yourself from getting sick.
Take some immune boosting herbs and supplements. Again, I’ll emphasise here that there is no specific research that has been done with COVID-19 and any of these remedies, however they have been researched and used to treat other colds and flus effectively, as well as to keep the immune system strong. Herbs include echinacea, elder, andrographis, cat’s claw, garlic, licorice amongst others. Supplements include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium (eat Brazil nuts!), and possibly the most studied nutrient for the immune system, zinc. Zinc has been shown to help decrease the severity of and infections from viruses in general, cutting the duration of a cold or flu by half. Foods that are high in zinc include pumpkin seeds, oysters, egg yolks, sunflower seeds, herring, liver, lamb, beef and brewers yeast (to name a few).
If you’d like to start exercising to strengthen your immune system, I still have 1 spot left in my 6 week personal training program – please send me an e-mail if you’d like to find out more.
I also offer acute naturopathic consultations, popular for immune boosting remedies. The consults are just 20 minutes in length and I help you come up with a plan to boost your immune system and prescribe individualised herbs and supplements. These consults can either be done in my clinic or via phone/video chat. Click here to book an appointment (if you’d like to book a phone/video consult, please make a note to say so in “appointment notes”), or send me an e-mail with any questions.
To keeping healthy and boosting your immune system,
PS I’ll be sharing a few more tips about boosting your immune system and staying well over on Instagram – please click here & follow along if you’d like more tips 🙂
PSS My e-mail address is dina (at) dinasavitz.com