The COVID-19 outbreak and the events that have followed in the past few weeks have shaken the world and affected our lives in unprecedented ways. To make your body naturally strong enough to protect, resist, and fight COVID-19, it is imperative to understand the relation of healthy nutrition, sleep, and exercise routine with your immune system. In this article, we will share with you some handful of recommendations backed by physicians, scientists, and nutritionists on how to boost immune system simply by adopting these food and lifestyle choices in your daily lives.
1. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Tea
Following centuries of use as a flavorful cooking ingredient, cleaning agent, disinfectant and natural preservative, apple cider vinegar has built its repute as the ‘amber liquid gold’. Cave paintings and scriptures dating back to the 5,0000 B.C show that this versatile liquid was especially lauded by the ancient civilizations for its medicinal properties and numerous health benefits.
Apple cider has numerous cholesterol control, blood sugar-stabilizing and hunger pang management benefits on your body. However, one of the most prolific uses of apple cider vinegar to boost immune system of the user.
As the liquid from pressed apples undergoes fermentation it produces prebiotics, found in the apple cider fibers, and other micro-organisms to help the immune system in maintaining a healthy colony of natural bacteria.
The stringy strands in the raw, undistilled apple cider vinegar also contain probiotic micro-organisms, which promote the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut. When combined, the prebiotic and probiotic can help you achieve a good balance of gut flora, which is essential for maintain an overall healthy immune system.
Apple cider vinegar also possesses antibacterial properties which assist in defending the body against invading antigens. It amps up your immune system to fight off various Gastrointestinal illnesses.
Organic apple cider is often used in healthy-diet routines to break-up mucus in the body and cleanse lymph nodes for better lymph circulation. It is usually used in detoxification tea recipes since it detoxifies the liver and the lymphatic drainage properties aid in toxin removal from the bloodstream for enhanced immune system response.
A cup of green tea infused with apple cider vinegar is a great way to detoxify your body and start your early mornings with a fresh mindset. Just follow the recipe below to get the most benefit of apple cider vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar Tea
• 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
• 1 Cup of Green Tea
• A good squeeze of lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder
• 1/2 teaspoon of raw honey
• Heat 1 cup of water and steep green tea for a few minutes.
• Add the rest of the ingredients into a cup of green tea, stir and enjoy
2. Integrate Workout Routine at Home
Adding a small workout routine in your self-quarantine lifestyle shouldn’t be much of a thing nowadays, given that most of us are working from home and have plenty of time to ourselves. According to Mark Moyad, director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, working out is a highly effective method of strengthening your immune system.
Working out in routine promotes the circulation of antibodies and white blood cells, enhancing their response time in identifying foreign bodies and attacking them with effect. Moyad also added that being physically active also lowers the production of stress hormones in the body, further reducing the chances of getting sick.
Research has also found that exercising regularly also aids in the body’s fight against viruses. According to a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who exercised regularly were significantly at lower risk of contracting cold. In the study, over 1000 people were surveyed and those who worked out at least 5 days a week were found at 50% lesser risk of coming down with a flu. When the body temperature increases during strenuous movements, the heat produced from it helps in killing certain viruses in their tracks that may have entered your body.
According to Moyad, getting a session of at least 30 – 60 minutes a day is sufficient to elevate your antibody levels and increase body temperature to combat foreign pathogens.
3. Add Daily Dose of Kalonji in Your Diet
While the immune system booster properties of Kalonji were first scientifically noted by Ibn-e-Sina 1025 A.D in his book Conon of Medicine, the first recorded uses date back to ancient Egyptian civilizations.
Kalonji, also known as Black Cumin Seeds, was also commonly used in the early Islamic era and recommended by the Holy Prophet S.A.W for fighting illnesses, speeding recovery from fatigue and stimulating the body’s energy for activity.
Black Cumin is rich with over 100 different components that are highly valuable to the body’s aid in producing anti-bodies and fighting illnesses. The seeds are abundant in essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Today, it is used for a plethora of purposes, from culinary and medicinal, to cosmetic and decoration.The seeds are also an excellent source of antioxidants for helping detoxification of the body and rejuvenation of cells.
The first research to find Black Seeds’ anti-inflammatory properties were officially conducted in 1960 by a group of scientists from the Department of Pharmacy at Kings College in London. The goal was to study how black cumin seeds worked as immune system booster, complementing the body’s natural defense against cough and colds.
The seed’s anti-inflammatory properties were also studied which were known to treat conditions such as rheumatism and different inflammatory disease. The studies found that its derivative thymoquinone was a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent and possessed high antioxidant activity which helped inhibit certain harmful hormones that caused inflammation in the body tissues.
These antioxidants were also found to slow down the cartilage degeneration, which helped users strengthen their bone joints. The findings concluded that all recorded properties in past researches and studies were positive as black cumin did possess pharmacological properties that stimulated enhanced anti-inflammatory reactions in cells.
Most importantly, adding black cumin in your daily routine is quite easy. With the socio-economic status quo, you can easily consume black cumin while working from home and maintaining self-quarantine. There are some very interesting recipes that are simple and quite effective.
For starters, you can learn to prepare a tea mix of black cumin and pure honey. Just crush the black cumin seeds, and mix it in black honey and warm water. The overall holistic approach is to consume it daily to enable its healing properties that help strengthen the body’s immune system, providing optimum resources needed for fighting illness.
4. Take At least Seven Hours of Sleep
Sleep is something that rarely gets its due attention. The hours that you sleep directly affect the efficacy of your immune system. According to Dr. Yufang Lin MD, a healthy immune response requires a sufficient amount of sleep, and ample time for the body to heal, regenerate and recover.
When your body does not get an adequate amount of sleep, it is unable to effectively support its internal components that are fighting off invading antigens and microbes, making you more susceptible to illnesses.
A study placed in the issue of Behavioral Sleep Medicine in July-August 2017 demonstrates that young, otherwise healthy adults who were insomniacs were more prone to acquiring the flu even after getting vaccinated than young healthy adults who did not suffer from this sleep disorder.
A review published in PflugersArchiv European Journal of Physiology describes the grievous consequences of sleep deprivation on the immune system. According to the journal, during the time that you sleep, the body is busy in producing and distributing vital immune cells such as T cell (a type of lymphocyte which regulates immune response), cytokines (proteins secreted by certain cells that mediate and regulate inflammation and immunity) and interleukin 12 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine). When the balance of these immune cells gets disturbed, the body struggles to defend itself against invading harmful agents.
Lack of sleep also affects cortisol levels by increasing them, which is highly detrimental to the immune system. As a result, the immune system wears and the body renders fewer reserves to fight off or recover from infections and illnesses.
At least seven hours of sleep per night is recommended by The National Sleep Foundation for adults in order to stay healthy and keep the immune system strong. The best method of self-stimulating a healthy sleep is turning off all your electronic devices at least two to three hours before bed and avoiding aggressive or violent conversations.
5. Consume Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Talking of how to boost immune system, Vitamin C rich foods are perhaps the most popular diet choices nowadays. Rich food sources of vitamin C include vegetables and fruits such as cantaloupe, broccoli, kiwi, cauliflower, kale, oranges, red, green or yellow pepper, papaya, sweet potato, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Vitamin C functions as an immune system booster, providing resources to antibodies that are on the frontline fighting infections.
Vitamin C is an essential component of the cellular cycle, keeping the immune system supplied and healthy. Once the old cells die, Vitamin C helps in clearing the old dead cells and replacing them with new ones.
Vitamin C is also a very strong antioxidant that serves the function of protecting cells from damage induced by oxidative stress. This is caused by free radicals as they accumulate in cells. If oxidative stress is not controlled, it can weaken the body’s immune system, putting it at high risk of contracting diseases.
Vitamin not only supports the function of different immune cells but also enhances their ability to protect against new types of virus strains, such as COVID-19. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, tests have shown that Vitamin C reduces the severity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections, making it a highly effective treatment source for patients suffering from coronavirus.
Research published by Hemilä H and Chalker E in 2007 showed results from a batch of 11,306 people who were regularly given foods in rich in Vitamin C. Just by adding a dose of 1-2 grams of Vitamin C a day, the batch experienced reduced reaction and duration to colds by 14% in children and 8% in adults.
Another study showed how common cold occurrences were reduced from a batch of marathon runners and soldiers by 50% using Vitamin C supplements. These professionals were at higher risk due to consistent physical stress. Moreover, Vitamin C foods have shown to induce positive symptoms on people suffering from severe viral infections such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
As of yet, there is no miracle herb or drug that can make you completely impervious to deadly virus strains such as the COVID-19. However, following proper personal hygiene, an effective diet plan and healthy lifestyle practices can help you build a stronger immune system that can resist fight the virus if needed. Using this opportunity, you can easily add these proven tips in your lifestyle get maximum natural protection till this pandemic is contained and beaten.