Boosting our immune system has never been so important as it is now during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. You can follow certain lifestyle and behavioral practices that may help strengthen your immune system and make it function most efficiently to fight off infections.

1) Exercising regularly – Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

2) Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables.

3) Maintaining a healthy weight – Aim for a BMI of 25 or lower. The best way to lose weight is with exercise and a healthy, balanced diet.

4) Getting quality sleep – Set a schedule and routine for sleep and practice good sleep hygiene.

5) Reducing stress and developing good coping mechanisms – Include activities in your daily life that help you handle stress, like virtually connecting with loved ones, going outside, practicing meditation, exercising, gardening or other hobbies.

6) Quitting smoking – If you smoke, you can get support to help you quit.

7) Drinking alcohol only in moderation, if at all.

In addition to the above listed lifestyle and behavior practices, some supplements in moderation keep the immune system functioning at its best:

1) Vitamin C may help prevent viral, bacterial and other infections by shortening the duration of colds and acting as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.

2) Vitamin D is one of the most important immune system-strengthening nutrients that can reduce the risk of colds and flu; this should be taken on a regular basis.

3) Vitamin A, when used on a short-term basis, can help support the body’s ability to fight infections, especially with respiratory infections.

4) Zinc can help reduce the number of infections and the duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.

5) Selenium is a key nutrient for immune function and is easily obtained from foods like the Brazil nut. Selenium is also an antioxidant, which strengthens the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells.

6) Raw honey is good at relieving minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes, like nose and mouth, and has antioxidant properties and some microbial effects; it is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to tea or hot water with lemon.

7) Garlic, fresh, aged extract and garlic supplements, may reduce the severity of upper viral respiratory infections and function in preventing viral infections of the common cold.

8) Probiotics contain “good bacteria” that both support gut health and influence the function and regulation of the immune system.

If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all the vitamins and minerals you need — maybe, for instance, you don’t like vegetables — consider taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Disclaimer: The information is intended to provide general education for patients and their families. The information provided does not constitute medical or health care advice for any individual and is not a substitute for medical and other professional advice and service.

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