Did you know that adding a few healthy habits to your daily routine can help boost your immune system?
Now more than ever, there's nothing more important than building up a line of defense against disease-causing viruses and germs. Fortunately, adopting basic healthy-living habits can help.
“People know that eating more fruits and vegetables helps your heart, but they may not realize it’s also good for your immune system,” said Gates E. Hoover, M.D., with Carilion Clinic Allergy & Immunology. “The same is true for exercise. Being physically active for a half hour at least three times a week can support your immune system and relieve stress.”
Vitamin D may help too. It has been shown to reduce the intensity of allergic eczema and flare-ups of asthma linked to infection.
“I see a lot of vitamin D deficiency among my patients, even in those who are very active,” Dr. Hoover said.
The good news is that eating well, exercising and getting your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin can all be done at home!
Taking Care of Ourselves
To strengthen your immunity, Dr. Hoover has the following suggestions:
- Eat broccoli and other green, leafy and brightly colored vegetables as part of a good diet
- Consider adding spices like turmeric, which helps fight inflammation
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep at least 7 hours a night
- Adopt healthy ways to manage stress, such as mindful breathing or meditation
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you smoke, quit now, when we are sheltering in place to avoid contact with carriers of the coronavirus
Extra Steps for Underlying Conditions
Dr. Hoover offered additional guidance for people who are already living with health conditions.
"Obviously, with COVID-19, good handwashing and social distancing," he said, adding that it's important to keep underlying health conditions under control.
"An overactive immune response can be detrimental as well. Thus, individuals with asthma and nasal allergies should keep their symptoms under control with regular daily controller therapy directed by their physician."
He advises people with chronic underlying conditions such as asthma to get an annual influenza vaccine and a single dose of Pneumovax 23, and those who are on immune-suppressive drugs may need additional preventative vaccinations.
In his practice, Dr. Hoover sees first-hand how stress affects the immune system. And this is a stressful time for everyone.
“Stress makes you more susceptible to infection and worsens conditions like asthma," explained Dr. Hoover.
This video shows Carilion Clinic patient representative David Fox demonstrating how the use of Tibetan singing bowls can help to reduce stress.
Visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more,
COVID-19 Community Hotline
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.
Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider.