Multiple countries around the globe are striving to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
As yet there is no antidote to the disease nor any magic pill or miracle broth to boost immunity against the virus overnight.
But there are many a way we can improve our immune system and bring it to its optimum level to strengthen our defence against the COVID-19.
Adopting these science-backed lifestyle tweaks and changes can help strengthen your immunity.
Organic vegetables have a significantly more diverse bacteria population, especially when eaten raw, since cooking would destroy these good bugs.
Anecdotally, there many benefits from consuming fermented foods and drinks like kimchi, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut which contain a natural synergy of many different types of yeasts and bacteria.
Sunshine is good for immunity and bad for viruses.
One reason that flu is a winter problem is because the influenza virus is transmitted best at cooler temperatures and low humidity.
But there are other reasons for seeking sunshine. Research suggests it makes disease-fighting cells in the skin move faster and work more efficiently.
Sunlight also helps our bodies to make Vitamin D.
The vitamin’s crucial role in immunity is not fully understood but ample levels can help protect against a lengthy list of ailments, including multiple sclerosis, asthma, depression, heart disease and cancer.
There’s a growing – albeit still rather small – body of evidence that being cold can benefit our immunity. In the right doses, exposure to cold temperatures can help reduce stress, which can have a detrimental impact on immunity.
It won’t happen straight away but over time, our body can improve its resistance to stress.
Research shows that people who take regular cold showers are almost 30 per cent less likely to call in sick to work than others, due to the improvements in immunity.
At the end of every shower, turn the water to the coldest setting and stand underneath for about 20 seconds. Build up to as long as you can tolerate.
TAKE THE COUNTRY AIR
As well as getting microbes from our mothers and our diets, we get them from our environment. The air we breathe carries bacteria, which together with organisms that come mostly from soil and plants, are deposited in our mouths and airways as we breath and swallow.
These are known to have potentially beneficial immunological effects. That’s great if you live in the countryside, but less so if you live in an urban environment that is low on microbial diversity.
Urbanites are more susceptible to allergies and inflammatory disease, and there is also clear evidence that childhood exposure to outdoor microbes is linked to a more robust immune system.
The official definition of a probiotic is: ‘a live micro-organism that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit’. But few products meet this definition as it’s tricky to keep the organisms alive.
Also, we don’t know if they are useful for everyone or which specific strains should be taken.
In fact, most microbes from probiotics do not take up residence in our guts, but are transient, detectable only for a limited time during frequent consumption.
This is not a reason to dismiss their health benefits though, as they can help improve the availability of nutrients from food and produce compounds that strengthen immunity.
One interesting piece of research suggested that taking probiotic supplements is linked to a reduced likelihood of getting colds, and making them shorter in duration and less severe.
EAT CHICKEN SOUP
In my line of work I’ve heard it all, from chicken soup for the sniffles to copper bracelets for arthritis.
The former was prescribed for colds in ancient Egypt and considered a powerful remedy through the Middle Ages. The 12th Century Jewish doctor Moses Maimonides recommended it for everything from haemorrhoids to leprosy, leading to it becoming known as ‘Jewish penicillin’.