As of today (5/11), there are more than 280,000 reported deaths and 4,100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide. With the numbers rapidly increasing every day, interest in personal health care is extensively growing as well. Wearing masks and washing hands often is undeniably crucial, but it is also essential to strengthen the body’s immune system to prepare for any possible infections. The new virus has no vaccine or cure yet, and the symptoms remarkably vary depending on the patient’s health, so reinforcing one’s immunity has become more crucial than ever. In times like this when outdoor activities are restricted, what are some ways that can be easily be attempted indoors for enhancing our immune system?
1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep
During sleep, the ability of white blood cells (T cells) to remove virally-infected cells increases. It also reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that reduces the effectiveness of immune responses. Experts say you should get enough sleep a day, which is around seven to eight hours. A lack of even two to three hours of sleep a week can be extremely critical to the body’s immune system. For a good night’s sleep, you should not consume any food from at least three hours before you lie in bed. And of course, refrain from drinking coffee and alcohol! Individuals who suffer from chronic fatigue and lack of sleep resulted from excessive drinking are more likely to have a weakened immune system. Taking a warm shower two hours before going to bed would also help to induce sleep.
2. Get enough exercise
Regularly do your stretching, cardio, and muscle exercises! Exercise promotes blood circulation, which enhances overall cell capabilities in the body while strengthening the functions of immune cells as well. A decrease in muscle mass leads to the weakening of the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to bacterial infections. It is recommended to carry out light stretching exercises every day and do cardio for 40 to 50 minutes at least three times a week. However, keep note that if you overwork the body, you may rather end up losing your immunity. There isn’t a set standard for “excessive exercise”, but if your body is tired the day after you work out and you are unable to maintain your everyday condition, you may have exercised too much. Remember not to overdo yourself! Some workout channels I recommend are “XHIT Daily” and “FitnessBlender”
3. LOL (Laugh out loud!)
As silly as it may sound, it in fact works! Laughing out loud, even if forced, increases the amount of white blood cells and reduces the secretion of cortisol, strengthening the immune system. A research team at Memorial Hospital in Indiana has discovered simply laughing out loud for just 15 seconds activates endorphins and immune cells, which can possibly expand one’s lifespan by two days. It also improves the body’s resistance to viruses and enhances its ability to multiply cell tissues. The brain perceives false laughter as similar to real laughter, meaning that even with forced laughter, one can benefit from 90% of the health effects that are followed by real laughter. However, just smiling isn’t enough; it is more effective to loudly laugh out loud, utilizing your entire face muscles.
4. Eat eggs
Eggs are packed with five major nutrients that are beneficial for enhancing the immune system: protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and zinc. Protein is the main substance that fights external pathogens such as bacteria that cause pneumonia, and viruses like COVID-19. A single egg contains about 6 grams of high-quality protein, and eggs are the most bioavailable source of protein, meaning that they have the highest rate of protein absorption in the body. The lack of animal protein in the body reduces the defense functions of the respiratory system. In addition, the lack of vitamin A intake causes the body to be more vulnerable to catching infectious diseases. An egg can supplement about 5% of the recommended daily vitamin A intake. Zinc is also the best mineral when it comes to immunity enhancement. It is involved in the production of white blood cells, and even a slight zinc deficiency can increase the risk of infections.
It may be frustrating to keep ourselves locked in our homes not knowing when this worldwide tragedy would come to an end, and I completely agree and empathize with that. If we hold on a little longer, as we have all done so far, I believe the end of this seemingly endless virus will soon eventually come. If there is one thing I earned from quarantine season, it would be that although I did not at that time, I now acknowledge how having been able to carry out our ordinary lives every day before COVID-19 was a blessing. I look forward to the day when we can all take our masks off and freely head outside, go to school, take classes, and thus return to our normal lives.