Covid-19 rocked the world to the core. This got a lot of people interested in nutrition, exercise and supplements. There are no supplements or nutrition and even any vaccine that can prevent you from getting this infection, BUT a strong immune system is the best defense you have against any virus. There are particular foods that are packed full of nutrients that have been shown to impede viral replication.
The weird thing for me about this whole pandemic is the WHO and every government in the planet advised us to get off the streets, limit contact with others, wear masks, go into lockdown and keep sanitizing. Nothing about resisting or prevention.
If that wasn't enough news channels would send us the daily death tolls and overload our senses with infection stats, and put our stress levels through the roof. (Ironically, being in a heightened sense of anxiety plays havoc with your immune system). It was rare if ever to hear a government official advising anybody to boost their immune systems, lose weight, eat healthily or heaven forbid - take some exercise.
The vaccine was touted as the messiah to end all problems, although it wouldn't stop infections or even prevent transmission, let alone mention the side effects or ethics of the jab. Side note -The world already has a messiah who was rejected -Jesus - though how many governments turned the nation to prayer during this time?
No one is going to live forever (another reason to fix your eternity before it's too late), but no one wants to succumb to this or any other infection. Your immune system is designed to protect your body from viral infections, but if it's supressed it cannot do its job properly. Lack of quality sleep and stress reeks havoc on your immune system by raising cortisol levels so it's a good idea to keep it operating on full power by providing it the rest and fuel it needs to function correctly.
Who Is More Vulnerable To Covid-19?
Why do some people get very mild symptoms of Covid-19 and others can die from it? The answer seems to be in the immune system response and pre-existing medical conditions. As it predominantly targets the lungs, anyone with COPD and chronic obstructive lung diseases like emphysema can face serious consequences.
Anyone also over the age of 60 is more likely to have these conditions and a weakened immune system. Anyone with diabetes is also considered at a higher risk of developing complications from Covid-19.
Those who are younger tend to have a healthier immune system and may get very little to no symptoms if they contract the virus. As you need your immune system throughout your entire life its best to keep it firing on all cylinders.
If you are undergoing a period of high stress in your life, your otherwise healthy immune system can be under performing in its response to coping with sickness and viral invaders.
The Role of Exercise in Fighting Covid-19
Before getting into nutrition don't overlook the benefits of exercise. Regular exercise is essential to not only boost the immune system to combat covid-19, but also to keep you healthy and to prevent general ill health, obesity and to control general diseases like diabetes and keep them at bay.
In response to covid, here are the benefits of keeping strong and fit. Whether that be in a gym or at home with resistance bands and light weights.
- increases immune response which can reduce symptoms - a healthy immune system can recognize an invading virus and deal with it more quickly.
- exercise regulates the opposing forces of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Almost 30% of severe covid-19 cases result in a cytokine storm which can result in lung failure.
- exercise along with nutrition lowers obesity. Excessive body fat levels can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation.
- exercise improves your cardiovascular system and improves blood flow due to an increase in nitric oxide synthesis which improves the elasticity of blood and capillary vessels. Nutrients and oxygen can flow more freely due to the relaxation of blood vessels and improved blood flow after exercise.
- exercise stimulates killer T-cells, which protect the body from viruses.
- moderate exercise reduces the chances of contracting an upper respiratory tract infection.
A word of caution when exercising - don't over do it, over training lowers the immune system, and produces excess cortisol (stress hormone) - it's the same as being severely over stressed. Know your limits, as your limit will be completely different than someone elses. Age, experience, life factors, stress and many other elements all impact your ability to train and recuperate adequately.
Using Vitamin D As A Covid-19 Preventative Measure
As your immune system is your last line of defense when it comes to preventing serious illness from taking hold, adequate sleep and nutrition will keep it working optimally. If your immune system is weakened and Covid-19 takes hold you will have a harder time coping with the virus.
One essential vitamin for the immune system (and also a pro hormone to boot) Vitamin D, is alarmingly deficient in almost 80% of US citizens. Vitamin D plays a huge role in the body, but concerning the pandemic, one of its key functions is to stimulate killer T-cell activity, which attack invading viruses and harmful bacterias.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, as it it produced naturally in the body by exposure to the suns ultraviolet light. So why don't you just go out in the sun more? Well depending on where you live you may not have any sun during the winter. You may also work indoors or the sun can be just too hot to go out in most of the time. Sunblock also limits the effect.
If you're trying to top up this vitamin with sunlight It also depends if the sun is in the ideal position to beam enough UV rays to bring up your natural levels. Not everyone can metabolize this vitamin from the sun effectively. The color of your skin also has a role to play and those with darker skin won't produce as much vitamin d as those with lighter skin when exposed to the sun. The same is true if you are overweight and into your senior years - exposure to the sun won't produce adequate amounts of D.
The best solution is to take this fat soluble vitamin in the form of a supplement. It can be a tablet or liquid. Some evidence suggests that liquid vitamin d is easier to absorb, but if you prefer tablets it will have the same effect.
Vitamin D is not just limited to helping the immune system. It also plays a key role in helping your body absorb phosphorous and calcium which is related to healthy bones. For those who like to train and remain strong as they age it also is important for muscular and strength development. Keeping you fit with strong bones and tendons.