Until recently, infectious diseases had disappeared from the list of today’s major health threats, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus has demonstrated a troubling fact: Harmful new viruses, for which we have never built up immunity, can emerge and quickly spread.
Social distancing, quarantines, frequent hand washing, and disinfectants are all essential to help stop such a spread. But there’s another equally vital component to staying well: a healthy immune system.
A stronger immune system means an infection is less likely—and if you do get sick, symptoms should be milder, and recovery easier. While there’s no magic herbal cure or nutritional magic bullet for COVID-19, here are some things you can do to bolster your immune system in the face of a viral outbreak.
Did You Know ... A study of twins at the University of Washington in Seattle found that a chronic lack of sleep can shut down the immune system.
Go easy on sugar. A study of more than 73,000 Americans, published in the Annals of Epidemiology, found that low consumption of sugar seems to protect against respiratory infections. Instead of sugary foods and drinks, eat plenty of whole foods, especially a variety of in-season vegetables and fruits, and take a multivitamin for insurance.
See also: Sneaky Forms of Sugar
Take vitamin D. More than a dozen studies have found that low levels of vitamin D correlate with higher odds of both viral and bacterial infections of the respiratory tract, according to a review of research published in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal). Getting vitamin D levels tested, and supplementing accordingly, is your best bet.
See also: 7 Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Take supplements that enhance resistance. Studies have found that EpiCor and Wellmune, two different patented derivatives of baker’s yeast, enhance resistance to viral infections. Each works differently, so they can be taken together for a synergistic effect. Other resistance-enhancing supplements include andrographis, larch, medicinal mushrooms such as reishi and turkey tail, and olive leaf extract.