You’re practicing social distancing. You’ve become a model for good hand hygiene. And you’re keeping those hands away from your face. But you’re probably wondering if there are things you should be doing to boost your immunity as well.
The reality is our immune systems develop when we are young children and there’s not much you can do to change it as an adult.
Can being too clean weaken your immune system? Learn More >>
“You don't get better than normal immunity by taking supplements or eating a special diet,” said Dr. Carl Lauter, Beaumont allergist and immunologist. “If you see an ad for something claiming it will boost your immunity, run the other way. It's a lie. It's fake. And they can't do it.”
Dr. Lauter said keeping your body healthy, however, is a good idea no matter what the circumstances. Exercise, sleep, eating healthy and reducing stress are all important habits we should be practicing daily.
Try not to stress out
Dr. Mateo Valenti, Beaumont internal medicine, believes reducing stress is one of the most important components of overall health health. And in times like these, it is easy to overlook.
“Reducing stress so you can focus on healthy living is most important,” Dr. Valenti says. “More and more patients are having trouble sleeping, which leads to fatigue and poor habits. It’s like a snowball effect. Doing things like exercise, meditation and prayer can help clear the mind so the body can rest.”
Get enough sleep
Speaking of sleep, Dr. Valenti says “Good sleep allows the body to rejuvenate and fight off infection along with a good, well-balanced diet.” Give your body the opportunity to properly recharge every night by getting enough sleep. For most adults, that means seven to eight hours, with children requiring more.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
The idea of “eating the rainbow” that many children learn about in school is a good rule at any age. Consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables should provide enough zinc, vitamin D and other important minerals and vitamins to support a healthy immune system. Supplements may be helpful if your doctor tells you your levels are low.
Maintain a healthy weight
Dr. Wendy Miller of the Beaumont Weight Control Center suggests staying away from foods that are refined or processed, such as crackers, chips, bread and sweets, as well as fried foods. Eating more vegetables and fruits in addition to legumes, nuts, seeds and lean protein like fish or chicken, will help.
According to Dr. Miller, refined foods won’t fill you up as long as something healthier would, which could lead you to eat more.
Extremely low-carbohydrate diets should be avoided as carbs provide the fuel you need to fight disease.
A daily regimen of 30 to 60 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity will help your body function at its best. There’s no need to overdo it as too much exercise can put undue stress on the body and have the opposite effect.
Support the disease-fighters in your gut
Eating foods with probiotics, such as yogurt, can also help your body fight off disease by supporting the good bacteria in your gut. Other foods that accomplish this include garlic, onion, ginger and fermented foods.
Drink lots of water. Similarly, avoid excessive alcohol consumption as it can act as a diuretic and reduce hydration.
Follow these guidelines to optimize your body's ability to keep you healthy.