Coronavirus pandemic is taking a heavy toll on almost every sector in the world, especially on healthcare workers on the virus front line.
If you are one of them, you have a higher risk of illness due to long hours caring for patients and exposure to the virus. That’s why it’s crucial that you boost your immune system so that you can protect yourself.
A recent study shows that one in three licensed doctors in the USA is older than 60 years, which makes them more vulnerable to the virus.
According to researcher Rohan Khera, MS, MD, cardiologist, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas, the new coronavirus pandemic poses a personal hazard to doctors and other healthcare workers while threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare resources.
Doctors are at a greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 by being exposed to both asymptomatic and symptomatic people. Not only that this exposure can reduce their time spent in clinical care, but it also poses a personal risk from the virus that requires hospitalization.
Doctors older than 60 years have a significantly higher risk. This was the most commonly affected age group in China.
Here are a few suggestions on how healthcare workers can boost their immune system.
Being active can boost your immune system in many ways. According to researchers, exercise improves the metabolic and immune systems. Exercising on a regular basis helps your body produce more T-cells and antibodies and get them to circulate more quickly.
What’s more, it helps energize your metabolism and cells by removing toxins from your body.
Exercising on a regular basis helps you to reduce stress by lowering the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This, in turn, boosts your immune system.
Sweating is also beneficial for your immune system. Your body thinks you have a fever and it kills pathogens.
A study shows that exercising at least five days a week lowers the chances of getting an upper respiratory infection by around 50% in comparison to being physically inactive. This has also alleviated the symptoms by 32-41%.
Go outside for a run or take a walk. Just don’t forget to keep a 6-foot distance. Find an activity you enjoy, such as lifting weights, and you’ll help your body boost its own immune system.
Following a healthy diet is one of the most important things for your immune system. The immune system and the gut are symbiotically and inextricably connected. If you have a healthy gut, you have a healthy immune system as well.
That’s why eating healthy foods contributes to a healthy microbiome, which, in turn, results in a healthy immune system that’s strong enough to protect against infections.
For instance, you can try following the Mediterranean diet. According to one study, following this diet and taking 400 IU vitamin D supplement for one year increases the number of T-cells and other circulating immune cells.
So, make sure you eat healthier foods whenever you can. Including a rainbow of colored foods in your diet can help you get the necessary vitamins and minerals. Consider including more fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut to support and increase the good gut bacteria.
On the other hand, make sure you limit your intake of inflammatory foods such as fried foods, processed foods, and meats.
Getting Enough Sleep
Your immune system and your sleep are closely connected. Sleep reboots your body and mind, thus rebooting your immune system. If you aren’t sleeping enough, your body will start producing more stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. This increase will put stress on your immune system while keeping you awake.
According to a study, sleeping for at least 7 hours per night can lower your risk of catching a cold by 4 times as opposed to sleeping less than 6 hours per night. Researchers analyzed how sleep duration affects twins. They noticed a depressed immune system in the twin who got less sleep.
The optimal sleep duration depends on your age. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults at ages between 18 and 64 should sleep 7 to 9 hours, while adults older than 64 should sleep 7 to 8 hours.
Tips for an Additional Immune Boost
Here are a few more ways how to boost your immune system while actively fighting COVID-19 in the front line or while being under quarantine:
Good hygiene – CDC and other health organizations recommend wearing personal protective equipment and following quarantine protocols, especially if you’re around patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
Keep your mind active – learn a new language, read books, or get yourself more informed about the condition by reading medical journals or research.
Go outside for at least 30 minutes – a study shows that spending two hours outside helps maintain good physical and mental health.
Stay connected while disconnected – even if you can’t visit your friends, colleagues, or family members, stay in touch with them via Skype, email, or phone call. This can help you avoid stress and depression.
Start writing the memoir or book you’ve always wanted to write it – you can write about your daily efforts and struggles when caring for COVID-19 patients to help you process your emotions and thoughts more efficiently and lower your stress levels.
Take all the necessary steps to boost your immune system so that you can be up to challenges to come. Physicians should not push themselves to the brink emotionally or physically as they are our most valuable asset in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.