Six immunity tips from Anthony Fauci: How America’s top doc keeps from getting sick

Chelsea Ritschel
·7 mins read
How Anthony Fauci stays healthy (Getty Images)
How Anthony Fauci stays healthy (Getty Images)

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Anthony Fauci has provided the country with scientifically backed guidance for minimising the risk of spreading and getting the virus.

In addition to advocating for precautions such as wearing masks and washing your hands, Dr Fauci, one of the country’s top infectious disease experts, also maintains the importance of following a healthy lifestyle to keep safe from the virus, and other illnesses.

From daily power-walking, supplements and getting a good night’s sleep, when he has the time, this is everything the 79-year-old does to stay healthy.

Vitamins

Last week, Dr Fauci appeared on an Instagram Live interview with Jennifer Garner where he encouraged people to take vitamin C and D supplements for immune health, while revealing he takes them himself.

“If you're deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself, taking vitamin D supplements," he said. "The other vitamin that people take is vitamin C because it's a good antioxidant, so if people want to take a gram or so of vitamin C, that would be fine."

According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (NIH), vitamin D can strengthen your bones, reduce inflammation, and help with immune function.

A deficiency in the vitamin has also recently been linked to a likelihood of getting coronavirus, with David Meltzer, chief of hospital medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of a recent study revealing: “Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections.”

Additionally, vitamin C “contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions” of the body’s immune systems, according to 2017 study published by NIH.

The 79-year-old did advise against any other product or supplement marketed as improving your immune response, however, telling Garner: “Any of the other concoctions and herbs I would not do."

The “other concoctions and herbs” comment came in response to Garner’s inquiry about whether things like spinach, elderberry, or other supplements can be beneficial to improving your immune system.

Dr Fauci’s advice follows similar information he shared during an interview earlier this month with Tiffany Haddish, during which he said that immune-boosting supplements “either do nothing, or, if you take too much of them, they harm you”.

Exercise

For the most part, the infectious disease expert keeps healthy the old-fashioned way - by exercising multiple times a week.

“I make exercise a significant part of my regimen,” he told InStyle for its July issue, explaining that he power-walks at least 3.5 miles a day to relieve stress and stay healthy.

The habit isn’t new either, as Dr Fauci used to run around seven miles a day, but has since slowed down to power-walking because “at the end of the run, various parts of my body hurt so much.”

“Power-walking is very enjoyable and relaxing, and we look forward to it,” he said of his and wife Christine Grady’s daily exercise.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity) a week.

Sleep

Despite working nearly 20-hour days amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Fauci knows the importance of prioritising sleep for his health - thanks to occasional reminders from Grady, a nurse bioethicist.

“I try to get him to rest, to drink water, to eat well, to sleep, and to be selective about what he agrees to and say no to some things,” she told CNBC in April.

Dr Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has publicly credited his wife’s advice with helping him avoid burnout.

“Thank goodness I have a very intelligent and clinically skilled wife who turned things around and said: ‘You got to remember to eat, and you’ve got to remember to sleep,’” he told National Geographic in May.

Wearing a mask

According to Dr Fauci, wearing a mask is “essential” to combating the spread of Covid-19 - which is why it’s not surprising that the health expert said wearing a face covering “dominates everything" he does.

“It dominates everything I do,” he told The Washington Post in July. “The only time I don’t wear one is when I am alone, when I am home with my wife, or when I am speaking in public - provided there is six feet between me and the people to whom I am speaking, as was the case when I answered questions at the recent Congressional hearings.”

Staying outdoors

With coronavirus believed to spread the most in indoor environments, Dr Fauci previously revealed that he and Grady “always stay outside” when it comes to social gatherings or dining.

“We don’t do anything inside. I don’t eat in restaurants. We do get takeout,” he told The Post, later adding that the couple’s safety precautions also apply to gatherings.

“On the rare occasion when we have people over, we have them out on the deck, six feet apart, and we never have more than two people, and they are people who themselves are locked in,” he said. “ We wear masks, unless we are eating. We don’t share anything. There are no common bowls. Each person has his or her own receptacle. Some people even bring their own glasses.

“We always do takeout and I tell the takeout people that I want the food in four separate plastic containers, so no one has to touch anyone else’s food. Everyone’s food is self-contained. Also, we always stay outside. We don’t do anything inside."

"If it’s too hot, or rainy, we cancel it.”

Minimal travel

Dr Fauci is also aware of the risks associated with his age and coronavirus, which is why he told The Post he won’t be getting on a plane anytime soon.

“I’m 79 years old. I am not getting on a plane. I have been on flights where I’ve been seated near people who were sneezing and coughing, and then three days later, I’ve got it,” he said. “So, no chance."

The White House advisor said he avoids public transportation as well.

“I’m in a high-risk group, and I don’t want to play around,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight out of 10 deaths in the US from coronavirus have been in people 65 and older.

Read more

Dr Fauci dismisses idea of herd immunity for US, says infections must be prevented

‘I have to disagree’: Dr Fauci contradicts Trump’s claim that US has rounded a corner on coronavirus

New York City to resume indoor dining from 30 September with tough restrictions