Research is ongoing to help us better understand how the body’s immune system responds to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. However, early reports are indicating that the virus may cause what is known as a cytokine storm, a dangerous immune system overreaction, in some cases. This reaction occurs when excessive levels of cytokines (the activating compounds of immune cells) are released into the bloodstream to attack the virus. This immune response can lead to severe inflammation, which can cause critical illness or even death. Boosting your immune system may help suppress such a dangerous inflammatory response. Ultimately, enhancing immunity naturally could reduce your risk of developing COVID-19 and may reduce the severity of the symptoms you may experience. Holistic remedies and positive lifestyle changes can have a major impact on a person’s immune system.
4 Holistic Methods to Boost Immunity and Reduce Inflammation
1. Eat a Varied Diet Rich in Nutrients
Many people are baking more while self-isolating at home. However, eating a diet full of varied nutrients (and keeping an eye on your calorie intake) is important for healthy immunity. An overconsumption of sugar and refined flour can lead to weight gain and increased susceptibility to infection. In particular, abdominal fat is known to increase inflammation, so it’s important to keep it under control.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to weight loss, and even small amounts of weight loss may counter inflammation. These whole foods are also packed with protective nutrients, including vitamin C, which is a natural immunity booster.
Foods rich in vitamin C include spinach, red bell pepper, citrus fruits, broccoli, and papaya.
Zinc is also great for immunity, so eating a diet filled with seeds, beans, nuts, and lentils can help protect you from COVID-19.
Being overweight, having low muscle mass, and being sedentary can increase your risk of illness should you come into contact with COVID-19.
Regular exercise can make your body stronger and help maintain immune health in the face of COVID-19. For example, exercising skeletal muscle produces small proteins known as myokines, which are known to keep out infections and keep inflammation from getting out of control.
Exercise can also diminish body fat. Fat tissue is known to increase inflammation, making overweight people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
You don’t need special equipment to get exercise. Simply go outside for a walk every day, go up and down the stairs, or use cans of beans to do strengthening exercises. Every little bit helps. However, people who do 10,000 steps or more a day have the least inflammation.
3. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Having more than the recommended alcohol intake a day (two for men and one for women) can reduce immunity-boosting nutrients in your body. Alcohol can also impair your white blood cells’ ability to fight off invaders. If you do want to have a drink after a hard day, reach for a glass of red wine, which is a great addition to an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet.
4. Reduce Stress
The stress-immune reaction shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Psychological stress has been linked with the dysregulation of facets of the immune system. The immune system responds to challenging circumstances known as stressors. Both acute and chronic stress leads to inflammation. In the case of acute stress, however, inflammation is a necessary short-term response. In chronic stress situations, the inflammation is chronic and systemic.
Finding ways to reduce your stress levels can reduce inflammation while also diminishing your risk of chronic diseases that can make you more susceptible to viruses.
Ways to reduce stress include:
Finding a hobby like reading or writing
Getting better sleep
Getting professional help
Doing breathing exercises
Fight COVID-19 with Cannabis
The cannabis plant contains a wide range of cannabinoids and other compounds that are well-known to reduce inflammation, including cannabidiol (CBD) and terpenoids. Research shows these compounds exert prolonged immunosuppression and could be used to relieve both chronic and acute inflammation. Cannabis is also an excellent stress reliever that can help you get better sleep and reduce anxiety.
Depending on your state, you may be able to get a medical marijuana card to consume cannabis. If you have an existing qualifying medical condition, it’s even more important to enhance your immunity and gain additional protection from COVID-19.
Interested in using cannabis as an alternative treatment? Get your cannabis card with a licensed physician.