The second wave of COVID19 has wreaked havoc in our lives, once again. The number of cases is increasing tremendously with each passing day, which makes taking care of our immunity of utmost importance. Staying at home, not stepping out until urgent and keeping our immunity up and tight is our best bet to save ourselves from the deadly COVID19. Though the vaccination drive is going on in full swing, it will take time for everyone to be vaccinated. Even people who have been vaccinated need to follow COVID safety precautions to stay safe.
How can we boost our immune system?
1. Get suitable sleeping hours: If you are not sleeping enough, it can take a toll on your immunity. When you sleep at night, the body turns on some pretty serious activation that helps kill the pathogens. Sleep is when our body repairs the cells, especially the brain cells. Say NO to the screen at least 2 hours before you sleep and avoid having any caffeinated drinks to get uninterrupted sleep.
2. Spend some time in doing exercise: Exercising regularly plays an important role in keeping your immunity strong. Exercising puts our body under short term stress called estrus, which makes us stronger and more resilient in the long term. Even in the short term, exercise can make your immune cells better at killing pathogens. Aerobic activities like running or swimming, high-intensity exercise and weight lifting have benefits for the immune system.
3. Add antioxidants to your diet: One of the easiest things you can do to boost your immunity is to fill your plate with colourful foods. Colourful foods are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, D, E and A along with zinc and selenium. Antioxidants neutralize free radical damage in our body and cool down inflammation along with repairing the damaged cells and DNA. The more bright and diverse your diet is, the better it is.
4. Add fiber to your diet : The headquarters of our immune system is in our gut and our gut bacteria love fiber. When we eat fiber, it encourages more diversity in our gut flora, which has been linked to a stronger and more balanced immune system. When we don’t get enough fiber, our body’s ability to fend off infections decreases.
5. Stay Hydrated : Drink up to 8-10 glasses of water every day, to stay hydrated. Hydration will help flush out the toxins from the body and lower the chances of flu. Other alternatives include juices made of citrus fruits and coconut water, to beat the heat.
6. Destress Yourself: These are testing times, and a prolonged period of staying indoors has its implications on your mental wellbeing. The growing anxiety around the pandemic is another concern that is affecting millions across the globe. While the uncertainty might be overwhelming, there are few steps we can follow regularly to help relieve our stress, stress is known to have an adverse effect on immunity.
7. Avoid Smoking, alcohol and other addictive substances: Certain habits like smoking, vaping, alcohol consumption and substance abuse have a direct correlation between weakened body defences and respiratory illnesses. Engaging in smoking and vaping is proven to weaken your lung capacity and destroy the cells lining your respiratory tracts, these cells are crucial to fight viruses that enter through your nasal orifices. There is new research claiming that individuals who engage in heavy alcohol consumption tend to suffer from ARDS (Acute Respiratory distress syndrome) which is one of the conditions caused by Covid 19 infection. Practice moderation, if you are dependent on any of these, as sudden withdrawal can also prove to be risky.
8. Avoid unnecessary Travelling: Avoid all kinds of non-essential travels. Most Covid 19 positive cases are imported cases, which later spread to the communities. Avoid being exposed to the public transport system and public places to avoid any likelihood of exposure. In case you have to travel, make sure to cover your nose and mouth with a mask and carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, at all times. Remember to sanitize each time you touch a surface, as Covid 19 strain can stay on surfaces for a few hours to days. Use your non-dominant hand while accessing the doorknobs and handles, as these are frequently touched by many people.
Apart from maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking supplements, the Indian health ministry is also suggesting few organic and natural ways to practice as preventive measures to fight COVID-19. The Ministry of AYUSH has recommended the following self-care guidelines as preventive measures and to boost immunity with special reference to respiratory health.
Drink warm water throughout the day.
Increase the intake of Turmeric, Cumin, Coriander and garlic.
Drink herbal tea or decoction of Holy basil, Cinnamon, Black pepper, Dry Ginger and Raisin.
Avoid sugar and replace it with jaggery if needed.
Apply Ghee (clarified butter), Sesame oil, or Coconut oil in both the nostrils to keep the nostrils clean.
Inhale steam with Mint leaves and Caraway seeds.
(The author is a teacher at Govt High School Brakpora Anantnag. Views are his own)