Healthy choices such as eating a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising and getting enough sleep are beneficial to our bodies year round. These things can help to boost our immune system which is key to preventing infection and disease as well as possibly shortening the duration and severity of illnesses.
One may wonder, are there natural remedies to help combat the coronavirus (COVID-19)? What other healthy ideas could I consider incorporating into my new “homebound” lifestyle on account of COVID-19?
The following supplements may help to improve immune health and have been researched for their immune-enhancing potentials. Speak with your healthcare provider if you want to try a new supplement as some may interact with certain medications or may be inappropriate for some people.
Zinc contains anti-viral properties, and zinc has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds. Some studies suggest increasing intracellular zinc concentration can impair the replication of a number of viruses, including influenza and SARS-CoV. Zinc can also help to prevent infection.
In a 2019 study in 64 hospitalized children with acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRIs), taking 30 mg of zinc per day decreased the total duration of infection and the duration of the hospital stay.
Natural sources of zinc come from whole grains. Other foods high in zinc are meat, legumes, seeds such as hemp, squash, pumpkin, and sesame.
- Vitamin D:
For people who are deficient in vitamin D, taking a moderate dose of vitamin D daily may reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Your best source of vitamin D is sunshine. Vitamin D is also found in wild-caught fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, grass-fed meats, whole milk, and fortified foods and juices. Depending on blood levels, anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D per day is sufficient for most people
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC):
NAC replenishes the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione. This can help with chronic respiratory conditions and brain health. Some other health benefits may include: stabilizing blood sugar by decreasing inflammation in fat cells; boosting glutathione levels, which may improve immune function; relieving symptoms of respiratory conditions; improving psychiatric disorders and addictive behavior; boosting brain health by regulating glutamate and replenishing glutathione. NAC is found in chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, legumes, sunflower seeds and eggs.
Elderberry has long been used to treat infections. In test-tube studies, elderberry extract displays strong antibacterial and antiviral activity against pathogens responsible for upper respiratory tract infections and strains of influenza virus. It has been shown to enhance immune system response as well as reduce symptoms related to viral infections. One study found that the elderberry supplement significantly reduced upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections.
- Vitamin C:
Vitamin C supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which is linked to numerous diseases.Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold.The upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 mg. Supplemental daily doses typically range between 250 and 1,000 mg.
It is important to remember that supplements and healthy foods cannot provide perfect health, but rather seeking to make wise choices is always to one’s benefit.
Four Ideas to Help Relieve Stress While Staying at Home:
- Faith and Focus: Faith can lead to concrete results in mental health improvement and stress reduction. It can help create optimism, enriches interpersonal relationships, enhances quality of life, and creates support systems. Focus on gratitude. Eileen Bailey (award-winning author of 6 books and freelance writer specializing in health topics) states that studies have shown that practicing gratitude on a daily basis can make you happier, lower stress, protect you from depression, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and improve your relationships. I highly recommend visiting the article “Practicing Gratitude to Relieve Stress”at https://www.healthcentral.com/article/practicing-gratitude-to-relieve-stress
to learn 10 ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily life.
- Create balanced meals: “Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” says Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D, senior research scientist at Abbott. Start by including a generous portion of produce (fresh, dried, frozen or canned), some protein, healthy fats and quality carbs in the form of starchy veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, butternut squash).
For a list of what to stock in your fridge and pantry, , visit “Staying home due to the coronavirus? Here’s what to stock in your fridge and pantry,” by Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian.
- Make time to work out every day: Planet Fitness is now offering daily free fitness classes that are being streamed live on its Facebook page. Each class will be a maximum of 20 minutes. The Aaptiv app claims to be “personal training for everybody and every goal.” Aaptiv is an on-demand audio fitness app that you can use anytime and anywhere, directly through your cell phone. You listen to the audio-based instruction from the personal trainer as well as some inspirational music playing in the background.
- Work a puzzle or color: serves as an alternative to food and a fun family activity. Some benefits of working puzzles are improved memory, better problem-solving skills, increased IQ, improved mood, and lower stress levels. Studies suggest that redirecting your attention to a soothing activity like coloring may help lessen anxiety as well. Print for free or color online. https://www.creativelycrafting.com/free-online-coloring-pages-for-adults or https://www.lifewire.com/best-online-coloring-sites-for-adults-4174217.
In closing, as we each seek to be diligent in making wise, healthy choices these days, may our hearts find ultimate wisdom and comfort from the following words from Tehillim:
“G-d is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2.