Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses a serious global threat. It has claimed the lives of thousands and was found in more than 20 countries.
Surprisingly, there are very few children who have been severely affected by this disease. This finding provides a clue on how powerful the immune system can be to protect us from this threat.
The human body’s immune system is capable of fighting the dreaded COVID-19. There have been cases when individuals are only mildly affected by COVID-19. Since there is no known vaccine or effective medicine against COVID-19 yet, boosting our immune system can be one of our best weapons against the dreaded disease. We can do this by making healthier changes in our lifestyle and daily food intake:
Handling stress positively
Getting enough sleep and rest
Maintaining your ideal body weight
Staying properly hydrated
Eating more fruits and vegetables
This article provides an overview of COVID-19, why it poses such a threat, and how we can help our immune system to better fight against it.
What is COVID-19, and why is it feared worldwide?
The coronavirus is a large family of viruses commonly found among humans and animals. It can be as mild as a common cold or as worse as the previously discovered MERS-COV and SARS-COV.
What is different about COVID-19 is that health experts say the situation is very ‘fluid’. It means that a lot of things about COVID-19 are unpredictable and can change within a short period. Even now, the virus’s exact incubation period is still unknown.
Is there a known vaccine or effective medicine against COVID-19?
Currently, there is no known vaccine or any effective medicine against COVID-19. So far, the best protection from the disease is prevention. By wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding densely populated areas as much as possible for the meantime, we can reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
Why are children not severely affected by COVID-19 Disease?
As with any viral outbreak, children are usually the most susceptible to contracting the virus. In the case of COVID-19, among the infected are at least two newborns, according to Chinese health officials. But according to an article published Feb. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, few children are among those sick enough to be diagnosed with the coronavirus.
One theory is that the innate immune system is more active in children than in adults.
What does this say about how our immune system works?
There are two main parts of the immune system:
The innate immune system
The innate immune system functions like the walls and doors of a house, and even a gate, to keep germs at bay. Our skin, cough reflex, the mucous membranes in our nose, and the stomach acid in our digestive system all act as shields to protect us viruses, bacteria, and other types of invaders.
The adaptive immune system
The adaptive Immune system is more complicated because it is made up of many different organs. Our lymphatic system plays a significant role in our immunity. Lymph is primarily made up of a mixture of infection-fighting white blood cells and a white or clear liquid that originates in your small intestine. When you have strep throat, you get swollen glands on your neck. These swollen glands are part of your lymphatic system.
These two components of the immune system work together to help you fight various diseases, including flu and COVID-19. In children, the innate immune system is very active, which is why, even if they are exposed to the virus, they are not severely affected.
In adults, however, the innate immune system is no longer as active, that is why we need to find more ways to boost our immune system.
How can we boost our immune system to fight COVID-19 and other viruses?
We can boost our immune system by making healthier changes in our lifestyle and daily food intake. It may mean breaking unhealthy habits such as smoking and getting minimal sleep. It can also mean forming new practices such as exercising regularly.
What activities can we do to boost our immune system?
Listed below are seven simple ways we can do consistently to strengthen our immune system:
1. Breaking away from vices such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Quitting smoking lowers inflammation, improves circulation, and increases oxygen levels — factors that contribute to boosting your immune system, so it’s easier to fight off colds and other illnesses.
2. Finding ways to deal with stress constructively.
Stressors — things that cause us to be stressed — can be anything: dealing with traffic, being with toxic people, or meeting an impossible deadline. While we cannot altogether avoid them, we can deal with them more constructively so that it will not affect our health.
3. Getting adequate sleep.
Do you notice that when you’re down with the flu, you feel lethargic? That’s because sleep is our body’s way of repairing itself. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body is unable to rejuvenate, making it prone to illness.
Studies confirm that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more at risk of contracting a disease after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Mayo clinic state that:
The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to ten hours of sleep. School-aged children may need ten or more hours of sleep.
4. Maintaining our ideal body weight.
Several studies show that overweight or obese people’s immune cells don’t respond adequately to invaders of all types, making them prone to more infections and illnesses.
The first step to lose weight is to keep track of it. The Inevifit Premium Bathroom Scale is the perfect tool to monitor your weight.
5. Exercising regularly.
Studies have shown that moderate exercise has a positive effect on our immune system response, and a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria. It is believed that regular, consistent exercise can lead to long term benefits in our immune system.
6. Being properly hydrated.
Drinking water helps our body to flush out toxins, keeps your eyes and mouth clean, and aids in proper digestion.
7. Having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Limiting the consumption of processed foods and having a diet composed of fruits and vegetables can strengthen our immune system. However, there are some kinds of food that are more beneficial to our immune system than others.
What kinds of food can naturally boost our immune system?
These seven kinds of food are considered natural immune system boosters:
1. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as grapefruits, tangerines, and oranges are rich in Vitamin C, which is known to boost the immune system naturally.
2. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers not only contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits, but they’re also a rich source of beta carotene.
Broccoli is highly packed with vitamins and minerals. Rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health confirms that garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down the hardening of the arteries.
Ginger is another ingredient that is known for its healing properties. Ginger may help decrease nausea. It may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses.
Spinach contains many antioxidants and essential nutrients, including flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Yogurts that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label, such as Greek yogurt, may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases.
The final word: Flu season in the US can begin as early as October and peaks between December and February. Even without the threat of the COVID-19, we still greatly benefit when we strengthen our immune system.