It’s human nature to want a quick fix. Not surprisingly, the coronavirus has caused internet searches for ways to improve the immune system to surge.
Unfortunately—and despite what you may have heard—there’s no simple solution.
“The bottom line is that there is no magic pill or a specific food guaranteed to bolster your immune system and protect you from the new coronavirus,” Tara Parker-Pope wrote for The New York Times earlier this week.
But, in addition to frequent hand-washing, there are ways to give your immune system a better chance at fighting COVID-19.
First, it’s essential to limit stress. (Easier said than done, right?) Numerous studies have shown that the human body does a better job fighting off respiratory illness when it’s not under stress. Meditation, controlled breathing, knitting, and other stress reduction techniques can help your immune system stay strong. Good sleep habits are also important. When it comes to warding off illness, the sleeping sweet spot, Parker-Pope writes, is six to seven hours a night.
You also want to eat a balanced diet. As registered dietician Stefani Sassos explained in a recent article for Good Housekeeping, probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, and sauerkraut are always a good idea. From their outpost in your gut, these beneficial live microorganisms protect all other organs from anything circulating through your bloodstream. And, as tempting as it might be to eat nothing but carbs until this all blows over, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough protein. According to Sassos, protein from lean animal sources and plant-based versions (like chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas) can “boost immunity by regulating existing cells and generating new ones.”
Keep in mind that no single food or remedy has been scientifically proven to bolster a person’s immune system or ward off disease. But, if you enjoy foods with supposed immune boosting properties (ginger, citrus fruits, turmeric, oregano oil, and bone broth), experts say there is no harm in working them into your diet.
Remember to drink plenty of water. As Sassos explained to Good Housekeeping, the body’s fluid needs increase when it’s fighting infection. “Drinking an extra two cups of water plus your daily minimum can fuel regeneration of immune-fighting lymphatic cells to get your body feeling stronger,” she notes.
As for the vitamins, vitamins C, A, E, and D are all associated with improved immunity, as is Zinc. Try to work oranges, grapefruit, red bell peppers, strawberries, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, almonds, and fatty fish into your diet if you can.
And most importantly, please, please, PLEASE wash your hands.