A lot of fear is being spread around the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its implications for you and your family's health. While it is not a joke, the reality is that the global mortality rate is still quite low and there are things that you can do to strengthen your immune system in case you are exposed. A strong and healthy immune system has the ability to fight off immune challenges like bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. Here are some major ways that you can improve immune system function:
Acupuncture - Acupuncture has been found to improve immune system functioning by "enhancing the level of immune cytokines and splenic CD4+ T cells. It also enhances serum interferon-y levels and interleukin 2 and 17" (White, 2017) Helper T cells fight off microbes, including viruses. All of these things are important in immune system health. In addition to this, acupuncture helps to relieve stress from the nervous system which if unmanaged can lead to a weakened immune system. Acupuncture can also help to reduce the duration of an infection.
Nutrition - Did you know that malnutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide? By packing your body full of micronutrients like zinc; selenium; iron; copper; vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; and folic acid you can stimulate immune factors like "phagocyte function, the complement system, secretory immunoglobulin A antibody concentrations, and cytokine production" (Chandra, 1997). Adding more foods to your diets, like blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, ginger, garlic, green tea, sunflower seeds, almonds, kiwi and red peppers can fill your body with many of these nutrients.
Sleep - Lack of adequate sleep can not only increase your chances of becoming sick but also affects how fast you recover if you do get sick. Your body needs not only adequate sleep but good quality sleep in order to fight infection. While you sleep your body releases cytokines that can help ward off infection (Can lack of sleep, 2018). Not only does lack of sleep weaken your immune system but over time it can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It is generally recommended that adults get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. In order to improve the quality of your sleep consider removing electronics from your bedroom, making sure the room is dark, and putting the room at a cooler temperature. All of these things can help you to develop better sleep habits. The biggest thing is to begin prioritizing and planning your sleep schedule.
Movement - Did you know that consistent exercise can do a lot to improve your immune system function? Moderate exercise seems to benefit immune function which can help to ward off respiratory infections. Exercise improves good circulation which can allow immune cells and substances to travel through the body more efficiently. A lot of research has been done showing that regular moderate exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, controls body weight and helps to protect against a variety of diseases (Harvard Health Publishing, n.d.). More research needs to be done measuring how exercise works to increase immune function but for now, many institutions such as Harvard recommend adding regular exercise to your health practices.
Meditation - Numerous studies have shown the benefit of regular meditation on the immune system. The simple practice of meditation has the ability to positively impact your immune system by increasing Natural Killer Cells (NK) and b-lymphocytes. Both of these cells serve as an early defense in viral infections (Thibodeaux & Rossano, 2018). Not only does meditation increase immune cell activation but it also helps to reduce stress built up in the system which can actually lower immune function. Meditation does not have to include hours of sitting on a cushion. Start out slowly with just 5 minutes a day and work your way up to 20 minutes. The most important part is consistency, so set reasonable goals and go slow. As you make more space in your awareness you will begin to experience the reconnection of your mind and body which can bring about a sense of peace and well-being.
Don't wait, start empowering yourself and take control of your own health by implementing these strategies into your health plan. If your immune system is strong you can keep yourself and your family healthy even in these uncertain times. If you would like to learn more or schedule an appointment for acupuncture please reach out! 978-701-5125, firstname.lastname@example.org
Can lack of sleep make you sick? (2018, November 28). Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
Chandra, R. K. (1997). Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(2). doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.2.460s
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). How to boost your immune system. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
Thibodeaux, N., & Rossano, M. J. (2018). Meditation and Immune Function: The Impact of Stress Management on the Immune System. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 3(4), 1–1. doi: 10.21926/obm.icm.1804032
White, A. L. (2017, November 17). Acupuncture Immune System Discovery. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1803-acupuncture-immune-system-discovery