JULY 2021
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Health & Wellness

CoronaVirus Pandemic – XIV

Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan

By M. P. Ravindra Nathan,

How to Boost your Immune System

The pandemic seems to be subsiding in the U.S. and the precautions are being lifted slowly. However, we are still not over with this virus and the new Delta variant, currently spreading in the U.S., is of great concern because it is particularly dangerous to young people. Thankfully, our vaccination rate is going up and already 62 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and the infection rate is steadily declining.

We have had many pandemics before, including the 1919 Spanish Flu, AIDS-HIV, SARS, Ebola, H1N1, H2N2 and such. Epidemiologists warn there will be more in the future; and we still don’t know when we will be rid of this virus. So, what are we supposed to do in the meanwhile? Now is the time to think about boosting your immunity and build resistance to all infections be it a virus or bacteria. Here are a few helpful suggestions.

  1. Nutrition plays a key role in developing and maintaining a healthy immune system. A well- balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, proteins, especially fish and egg whites, would be a strong immune booster. Keep your breakfast, lunch and dinner menus simple but make sure each meal has a protein, a fat (low in saturated fat) and a carbohydrate to fuel your immune system. One caution. Because of the recent lockdown and house confinement, obesity has been on the rise and it is a major risk for any infection!

  1. Drink enough fluids: Water is the best drink and it helps to eliminate toxins from the body. Unsweetened beverages, skim milk, non-dairy products like soy milk, etc., are okay too. Avoid sugar sweetened food and drinks since they help the bacteria and viruses thrive in our body.

  1. Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can weaken the immune system, so avoid it altogether, if you can; otherwise, limit your intake. A glass of wine daily is acceptable but if you don’t drink now, don’t start.

  1. Exercise: Exercise increases blood flow to every cell in the body, reduces stress and inflammation, and can strengthen the production of antibodies that fight the invading organism. Regular exercise can definitely boost your immune system and may be the single most potent elixir for healthy aging. It improves the muscle strength, cardiovascular and respiratory function, and limits the risk of getting diabetes – all important in our fight against infections. So, keep moving.

  1. Don’t smoke! Tobacco use in any form and cigarette smoking, in particular, is associated with numerous diseases, especially that of heart and lungs. It certainly affects the body’s immune functions too. Cigarette smoke is a double-edged sword in that it either exacerbates abnormal immune reaction as happens in the initial phase of Covid-19 infection or attenuates the normal defensive function of the immune system.”

  1. Reduce Stress: Studies clearly show that “Stress and anxiety impair the immune system and make us more susceptible to illnesses.” So, practice stress reducing techniques like yoga, meditation, spirituality and regular exercise.

  1. Use supplements as needed: Theoretically, a healthy diet can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals you need but older people and those with preexisting diseases may end up not getting enough of these from the food, especially vitamins B and D, calcium and magnesium. A standard multivitamin tablet may do the trick but sometimes you have to take additional Vitamin D and calcium.

  1. Get enough sleep. Adults should try to get 7-8 hours sleep at night. Practice good sleep hygiene like going to bed and getting up at the same time every day; don’t take any stimulant drinks like tea or coffee late in the day and, spend some time outdoor every day if you can.

  1. Consider preventive medicine: Low dose aspirin is known to decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Since coronavirus is notorious to produce blood clots in the body, low dose aspirin, being a mild blood thinner, may be especially beneficial. Discuss with your doctor as to what supplements and other drugs you should be on, especially if you are an older person.

  1. Keep current with all recommended vaccines, including Covid-19 vaccine and flu vaccine. Vaccines prime your immune system to fight off infections before they take hold in your body.

A strong immune system will help avoid getting sick by reducing your susceptibility to infections, so you can enjoy a long healthy life. And don’t forget the drill to prevent exposure to whatever may be the epidemic or pandemic that’s affecting the community at a given time. And always observe strict personal hygiene.

M.P. Ravindra Nathan, M.D., is a cardiologist and Emeritus Editor of AAPI Journal. For further reading, “Second Chance - A Sister’s Act of Love” by Dr. Nathan from Outskirts Press, can be found at www.amazon.com

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