While doctors and scientists work on a vaccine for COVID-19, all of us need to work on keeping our bodies as healthy as possible.
After all, increasing our body’s ability to fight disease is the ultimate solution to every virus and disease threat. This includes boosting the immune system, reducing pain and inflammation, and other forms of care that optimize physical, mental and spiritual health.
People who have chronic metabolic disease are the most vulnerable to severe complications from the coronavirus. In Italy, the highest percentage of deaths occurred in the elderly population, but on average those who died had at least 2.7 chronic conditions that included high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and cancer. They also smoked.
In Wuhan, China, more than 60 percent of the people who contracted COVID-19 suffered from major complications such as type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure. They also smoked. Tragically, many of them also died.
We face a similar situation in the United States. Almost 70 percent of the U.S. population (three out of every four Americans) is either overweight or obese (BMI greater than 25), and more than 100 million U.S. adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes.
In fact, only 17.6 percent of Americans are metabolically fit. Lifestyle habits such as overeating refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods and bad fats are major contributors to poor health. Combine this with being sedentary, stressed and not getting enough quality sleep, it is not surprising that 85 percent of Americans age 65 and older battle two or more chronic diseases.
But it is not all gloom and doom. We can make lifestyle changes that can have an impact in only weeks or months. We know type-2 diabetes, for example, can improve and go into remission within weeks with dietary changes.
Given that, here are five steps you can take to help strengthen your immune system and keep your body strong and healthy.
Stress has a profound impact on our body and mind. Studies reveal that stress can lower our immunity, cause chronic pain, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, migraines and high blood pressure. It has a big impact on sleep. When we are stressed, worried or anxious, our bodies release stress hormones that in the long term can have a detrimental effect on our overall health and wellness.
GET ADEQUATE SLEEP
I don’t know if anything is more important for your overall health and immune system than getting optimal sleep of seven to nine hours a night. We all have experienced being stressed and not sleeping well and then coming down with a cold or virus. Feeling run down is the term we often use. Combine this with a poor diet, and it is a recipe for weakening our immune system’s chance to ward off infections.
The coronavirus has led to increased isolation in our homes, which has led to increased inactivity in our daily routine. It is important to take a brisk walk for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day and perform some simple body weight exercises to maintain strength. But be careful. Exercising too strenuously can actually reduce your body’s immunity, so keep it simple.
STAYING ADEQUATELY HYDRATED
It is important to drink at least 32 ounces of water per day. Drinking 64 ounces is even better. A person can go several weeks without food but will last only a few days without water.
Now that you are making meals more often at home, it is a good time to significantly change your eating habits. Try to eliminate processed foods, refined grains, sugar, fried foods and bad fats and replace them with green leafy and multicolored vegetables, fruits, good fats in the form of nuts and seeds, and high quality protein from plants, fish, poultry and beef. It will have a positive impact on your health and immune system.
Each step is important on its own. Working together, they can help foster a lifestyle change that will provide a defense against inflammation, infections and disease.