With a novel pandemic raging—targeting the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as well as some young, healthy people—many people want to know what they can do to prepare their bodies for potential battle with the pathogen. Harvard epidemiologists predict that the coronavirus could infect half of all Americans by the time this pandemic winds down. What defense strategies can we use?
These strategies can generally boost your ability to fight off colds and flus:
- Get enough sleep. It can be hard to rest well, especially if you’re anxious, financially strapped, or quarantined in tough circumstances. But prioritize sleep. Take naps during the day if needed. Establish a calming routine before bed—a nice book, a cup of warm ginger tea, a short yoga routine, etc. Stay away from screens and caffeine in the few hours before bed, and keep your room dark.
- Minimize junk food. Don’t stress eat cookies, pizza, and fried processed foods. Spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels with bad food can weaken your immunity to viruses.
- Stop smoking. Coronaviruses make use of ACE receptors in our lungs and digestive systems. Some research suggests that smoking can create conditions that allow the virus to cause more harm by way of these receptors. Smoking can also weaken the lungs and immune system.
- Avoid consuming alcohol in excess. Moderate alcohol consumption may not be harmful for some people. However, excessive drinking can overtax the liver and make it harder for the body to shake off illnesses.
- Get enough (safe) sunlight. Compelling research suggests that people with vitamin D deficiency may be at higher risk of developing respiratory infections. This hypothesis says that one of the reasons flus and colds are worse in the winter is that people get less sun in the winter—and, hence, make less vitamin D.
Discuss any underlying health conditions or diet and exercise routine with your doctor. Make a personal plan. Develop habits to keep you safe and prepared for coronavirus.
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