There’s a lot of information circulating right now about things we can do to protect ourselves and others from the circulation of COVID-19. If you’re not washing your hands regularly, practicing social distancing, and limiting your contact with others unless it’s essential, among other things, you’re missing the boat. (And you should read this…)
Taking care of ourselves and doing what we can to keep our immune systems healthy is another super important avenue to staying well during this time.
The Natural Medicine Journal recently spoke with Heather Zwickey Ph.D., about some of the things we can do to support our immune system. Dr. Zwickey is an immunologist, with specific training in infectious diseases. She’s also executive program chair and a professor at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR.
We strongly recommend that you invest twenty-or-so minutes of your time to listen to the interview. It’s highly informative about some of the science behind COVID-19, how it works in our bodies, and what makes it different from other flu/coronaviruses.
One of the things Dr. Zwickey spoke about was some of the things we can do to help protect our immune systems. It’s important to note that none of these have been proven as a treatment or remedy for the COVID-19 strain, specifically. They have, however, been shown in clinical studies to help protect the body from other similar viruses.
Here are a few of her recommendations:
- Get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
Studies suggest that Vitamin D is not only essential for bone and calcium homeostasis, it also helps support the optimal functioning of the immune system. Although vitamin D needs vary from individual to individual, the US Institute of Medicine suggests an average daily intake of 10-20 micrograms (or 400-800 IU). Also, get outside when you can. We need that sunshine for Vitamin D, melatonin, and our mental health!
- Get plenty of Vitamin A.
Studies about the benefits of Vitamin A are plentiful. It’s well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its essential role in supporting immune function. The RDA of Vitamin A for the average person is 900 micrograms.
- Show your gut some love.
Most of us know how vital gut health and a healthy microbiome is for a robust immune system. Here are some things we can do to show our gut some support.
- Get some sleep!
This pandemic may have some people up at night pacing the floor, understandably, but try to get as much quality sleep as you can. Avoid blue light generated by phone and tablet screens by putting them away at least an hour, or better yet, and hour and a half before hitting the rack- keeping our faces in the screen before bed makes it more difficult get to sleep. We’ve covered a little more about how to get quality sleep here.
- Try to chill.
In addition to getting some decent sleep, for your health’s sake, try not to stress too much. Anxiety and stress can work against your immune system in a myriad of ways.
- Avoid Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.
These negatively impact the ability of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (or RAAS) to fight viruses. If you’re looking for a pain reducer, reach for acetaminophen instead.
There is no cure or remedies for COVID-19 as of yet, and the severity of the virus has medical professionals working overtime to try to find a way to neutralize and/or treat it. In the meantime, we must continue to do our part to look out for each other’s health and honor our own.
While we hope this article has been informative, it is absolutely not a substitution for solid advice from a healthcare provider or physician.
Especially with the severity and unpredictability of this particular disease, it’s so important to seek out trustworthy, unbiased, informed sources for quality information. No one is more qualified to provide this information than our doctors and all the medical experts on the front lines fighting for our health.