The key to fighting any foreign invasion of virus or bacteria in the body is a healthy and robust immune system. Our immune system does an incredible job of defending us against illness and infection. Living a generally healthy lifestyle on a regular basis is important in maintaining a strong immune system, but it’s never too late to start adding components to our lifestyle that help boost immunity against COVID-19.
Sleep: The immune system is regulated by protein molecules called growth factors and cytokines. It is essential for these proteins to remain in a state of balance for the immune system to function normally. Restful and interrupted sleep is critical for this to happen.
Taking a one hour break from TV, computers and personal devices before bed is one simple technique that can make it easier to fall asleep. Avoid stimulating exercise before bed and limit caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Use blue light glasses to reduce blue light exposure while in front of a digital screen and increase exposure to real sunlight during the daytime. These simple tools can help to maintain a normal circadian rhythm and result in more effective sleep.
Stress reduction: The immune system intimately involves the white blood cells that respond to and produce cytokines. Over the past 30 years, there have been more than 300 studies evaluating stress and immune function. Stress often results in the production of excess cortisol, which has a negative effect on white blood cell function. It also results in the activation of the “flight -or-fight” mechanism. While this natural response mechanism is helpful for situations when danger arises, it is detrimental to immune function.
Both yoga and meditation practices place a great deal of emphasis on structured breathing patterns that can be very effective for stress reduction. Supplements such as valerian root, kava kava and green tea may help in reducing stress, as well.
Diet: The gut microbiome (bacteria) are directly involved in immune system health. A healthy diet is important, and so is a good-quality probiotic. Some foods that are helpful in either increasing bacteria presence or the nutrients that bacteria need include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, almonds, olive oil and Brussel sprouts.
Dr. Jon East is the owner of Addison Pain and Regenerative Medicine. For more information, call 972-380-0000 or visit AddisonPain.com.
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