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COVID-19 - How to Boost Your Immunity?

Published on Jul 16, 2020 and last reviewed on Jul 22, 2020   -  4 min read

Abstract

Abstract

COVID-19 has finally made us realize the value of immunity. In individuals with a strong immune system, this fatal virus cannot result in severe infection. This is why COVID-19-related deaths are common in older adults and people with comorbidities. Read the article to know how to boost your immunity.

COVID-19 - How to Boost Your Immunity?
Contents

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the COVID-19 outbreak on January 30th, 2020, and described it as a pandemic on March 11th, 2020. Currently, behavioral, non-pharmacological interventions (NPIs), such as the use of masks, self-isolation, quarantine, and even lockdown of entire territories and communities, are the strategies hired to stop or, at least, to curb person to person transmission.

COVID-19 is a novel respiratory disease that can affect the air sacs in the lungs. COVID-19 influences respiration in serious cases, and patients may even need ventilator support. Lung infection sufferers are increasingly defenseless. As there is no vaccine available until now for the virus and also the people whose immunity is weak due to some other underlying disease are more vulnerable to get afflicted. It seems suitable to enhance once immunity by whatever systems available to fight this virus. There are various ways by which individuals can increase their immunity.

Role of Nutrition

Nutrients are important for the immune response to pathogens so that body cells can divide and produce and release cytokines and antibodies. The presence of micronutrients is required for many enzymes in immune cells. An important role was determined for zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and vitamin A, B6, C, and E in maintaining maximum immune function. Therefore, to enhance once immunity, a healthy diet that includes all the essential nutrients should be taken during quarantine and lockdown.

Fasting and Calorie Restriction

It has been seen that fasting or intermittent fasting (IG) has beneficial effects in patients suffering from underlying morbidity, not limited to multiple chronic diseases, and disease prevention in healthy individuals, oxidative stress reduction, and inflammation. C-reactive protein (CRP) and inflammatory biomarkers like IL-6 are shown to be significantly reduced by short and long IF.

Conversely, it is recognized that caloric restriction (CR) also decreases markers of oxidative stress and inflammation and metabolic disease risk markers among patients with moderate asthma and other respiratory diseases. To improve the human immune system, several experts suggest a diet with CR, fasting, or IF.

Importance of Sleep

Few studies have mentioned that sleep is very important for the immune system. Although according to The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), too much sleep could adversely affect the immune system. But, sleep loss and sleep deprivation also affect the immune system negatively as the release of cytokines, which is the protein that targets infection and inflammation, will decrease. It is also found that infection-fighting antibodies and cells decrease during periods when humans do not get enough sleep.

Sleep impacts the immune system via the action of centrally generated cytokines, which are controlled during sleep. Therefore, it is recommended to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night to counter infectious diseases. Optimal recommended sleep duration is usually between 7 to 9 hours per night in adults, but it also depends on an individual's gender, age, and physical activity. The positive impact of napping for physical performance and oxidative stress in individuals has been mentioned in the literature recently. So individuals are encouraged to prioritize their sleep habits and patterns and, if required, complement night sleep with naps whenever necessary.

Physical Exercise and Immunity

The body of scholarly evidence currently available suggests that daily exercise strengthens the immune system and decreases the risk of contracting certain forms of infection, such as upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). A few studies disclosed that several positive changes in the immune system occur during moderate or vigorous exercise.

Klentrou et al. stated that concentration and resting secretion levels of IgA (Immunoglobulin A), which is the predominant antibody contained in the secretions of the mucosal immune system, in subjects undergoing routine moderate exercise were significantly increased. Most research has revealed more advantageous features of natural killer cells, which shows another necessary participation of innate immunology activity in athletes versus non-athletes.

Recently, Simpson et al. cited that it is essential to preserve recommended workout levels all through this COVID-19 pandemic to lessen the negative effects of the state of no activity and social isolation stress on our immune system. All the athletes who are in quarantine or self-isolation should follow the recommended daily routine. For Training regimens, instructors and fitness educators could advise when, whether, and which type of exercises can be performed. Although it is difficult to work out in self-isolation, it is possible to perform aerobic exercises such as calisthenics.

As far as strength training is concerned in the absence of gym equipment, many exercises focus on strengthening the core and limb muscles with the use of body weight. Hammani et al. have proposed the intensity categories of home-based aerobic exercise training for various target groups.

Stress and Mental Health

This coronavirus pandemic may be stressful for humans. Fear and anxiety over a new disease, and what could happen in adults and children can be daunting and trigger intense emotions. Action in public health, such as social distancing, can make people feel lonely and disconnected, leading to stress and anxiety. These actions, however, are necessary to reduce COVID-19 spread. Healthily coping with stress will improve an individual and the community.

During an infectious disease outbreak, stress can cause issues, such as fear about own health and the health of loved ones, financial situation or job, or loss of supports one depends on, alterations in sleep or eating patterns, problems in sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health conditions, worsening of mental health conditions and increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances. Coping with stress, if somebody gets sick and has concerns about COVID-19, then it is always better to contact a health professional before he /she may start any self-treatment for COVID-19. Individuals should know from where and how to get treatment and alternative support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).

One should take care of his/her emotional health, which will help him/her to think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect oneself and their family. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting, so one should avoid watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media related to COVID-19. One should take care of the body and mind by taking deep breaths, stretching, meditation, eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, sleeping, and avoiding excessive alcohol usage. One should consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone, or mail to maintain social touch.

Mental health is a critical part of an individual's overall health, immunity, and well-being, impacting how we think, feel, and act. It can also affect how we deal with stress, how we relate to others, and how we make decisions during emergencies. In an emergency, people with pre-existing mental health conditions or substance use disorders can be particularly vulnerable. Conditions of mental health such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia affect the thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior of a person in a way that influences their ability to relate to others and function each day. Individuals with pre-existing mental health problems should be aware of new or deteriorating symptoms and should continue their care. If a person thinks that the signs are fresh or getting worse, he or she should contact a healthcare provider.

There has never been such a time in history where concern for increasing one's immunity is holding so much of importance. Individuals should try to utilize whatever strategies he/she can use, to enhance his/her immunity, in whatever way possible to survive this COVID-19 pandemic phase.

 

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Last reviewed at:
22 Jul 2020  -  4 min read

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Dr. Ranjeet Singha, Pt

Dr. Ranjeet Singha, Pt

Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master in Physiotherapy(Neurology), HAAD Licence, Life Member(IAP)

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