Since there’s no vaccine for COVID-19 or any medication that will cure the disease, our immune systems become the last defense when hand-washing, mask wearing and social distancing have failed.
And the key to a good immune system is not necessarily boosting it with supplements, but keeping it in balance, says Dr. Sharon Bergquist with Emory Healthcare. She’s an internist who advises her patients on how to support their immune systems.
“There are so many things we do that are driven by our lifestyle that don’t adequately give our immune system what it needs to function its best,” she said.
First and foremost is diet as 70% to 80% of our immune system lies in our gut, which means choosing fruits and vegetables over sugars, saturated fats and processed foods, Bergquist suggests.
“So the keys then, in terms of diet, are high fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, and a lot of antioxidants from fruit, vegetables and spices.”
Bergquist says people underestimate what a little oregano, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg or basil can do, as they all help the immune system.
With shelter-in-place orders, people are cooking more at home and could improve their diets to aid the immune system.
“It’s a great time to establish new habits. And when we emerge from this, hopefully the good will stick,” Bergquist said.
Two other factors that play into a balanced immune system are exercise and sleep.
Get those seven to nine hours of sleep in, experts say, and your immune system will thank you.
And take walks, lots of walks.