COVID-19 is scary. Very scary. It is spreading rapidly and there is no known cure (yet). With that said, we want to share with you six steps that can improve your immune system and help the fight against COVID-19.
Hydrate: Your body, and in particular your lymphatic system, needs fluid in order to function at its best. Most experts recommend drinking half your body weight in pounds in ounces of water per day. For example, a 150 lbs female should drink 75 oz of water daily (just over 2L), and a 200 lbs male should drink 100 oz of water daily (or 3L). I recommend filtering tap water (e.g. Brita filter) and adding a squeeze of lemon. Some studies also show that sipping on warm water (boiled and allowed to cool - not warm from the tap), helps stimulate lymphatic drainage.
Sweat: Quarantine time can make it challenging to find the motivation to workout. However, many studies show that sweating can help your body eliminate toxins. If you need some ideas for at-workouts, check out our Instagram page. The workout doesn’t have to be long. Even a 20-min high-intensity sweat session will do the trick!
Eat fermented foods: Gut health plays a significant role in immune health. In fact, some estimates show that up to 75% of immune function is controlled by your gut! One of the best ways of improving gut health is by eating fermented foods. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and yogurt. I recommend including one serving of the above foods once daily for lunch or dinner. My preference is a heaping tablespoon of sauerkraut added to a lunchtime salad.
Take zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient found in high amounts in foods such as meat, cheese, and seafood (especially oysters). Zinc helps with cell-mediated immunity, is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. There is strong research supporting its ability to improve the common cold; however, timing is key. Zinc must be taken prior to getting sick or upon the first signs of illness, since it interferes with a virus’s replication. If you are already sick, zinc won’t help as much. My recommendation? Take 25-50 mg of zinc daily.
Take echinacea: Echinacea is a powerful supplement that has been shown to decrease the likelihood of catching the common cold by 50% and decrease the duration of the common cold by an average of 1.5 days! Echinacea acts by stimulating phagocytosis, the process by which white blood cells and lymphocytes attack foreign organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Experts recommend taking 1g daily during the cold and flu season.
Take Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and its role in preventing illness has been celebrated for decades. With that said, there is mixed research on this topic. Most studies show that 500 mg of vitamin C supplementation daily has little to no effect on the duration or severity of the common cold. However, a newer meta-analysis shows that many of those studies were on people who did not express vitamin C deficiencies. In the studies that included subjects with vitamin C deficiencies, daily supplementation improved common cold length and severity. Fortunately, vitamin C is water-soluble, which means any excess amount will be excreted from the body in urine. Foods that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), non-citrus fruits (strawberries, raspberries), and leafy greens (Swiss chard and broccoli), also have many other health benefits, so we recommend to load up on all these foods this month!
In summary, while there is no research released yet on the impact these practices have on the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 or the severity/duration of the virus if it is contracted, there are decades of strong evidence that supports the role these practices have on improving the immune system. And, during these difficult times, every effort helps. Stay safe out there my friends!