The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in plenty of change, but one thing remains tried and true: boosting your health and immunity is powerful medicine—and within your reach.
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you is a great first step. While there are still unknowns related to this disease, as well as with respect to the vaccine, we do know that COVID-19 has caused serious illness and even death for a lot of people. If you get the virus, you also risk spreading it to loved ones and others who may be at risk for severe complications from the illness.
Remember, wearing masks, practicing social distancing and following other health guidelines as recommended by the CDC will continue to be important for the foreseeable future, too.
In addition to vaccination, you can protect yourself from contracting COVID-19, as well as cope better should you become ill by eating right, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and lowering stress. These lifestyle choices also go a long way in preventing or managing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions that can make recovering from COVID-19 more difficult.
“Some risk factors and outcomes are beyond our control, but the behaviors that cause most serious health conditions can be modified,” said Wellness Coach Tina Vande Guchte, Holland Hospital Lifestyle Medicine program, “and the good news is, Holland Hospital offers Lifestyle Medicine and Healthy Life programs to help people adjust these behaviors and habits for improved immunity and lifelong health.”
COVID-19: 3 Self-Care Strategies
While it’s best to avoid getting COVID in the first place, if you do get sick, you’ll want your immune system to be ready to fight. Between the first onset of symptoms (around day five through day 12), it’s a golden opportunity to bolster immune system functioning to ward off potential hospital admission. “A simple self-care formula for activating your body’s natural ability to fight the virus is seven to nine hours of sleep, ample levels of vitamin D, C and zinc, and hydrotherapy,” Vande Guchte said.
- Quality zzzs matter: Sleep deprivation increases our susceptibility to viruses by inhibiting the immune system. Research shows that duration and efficiency of sleep are the strongest predictors of an exposed person coming down with the common cold. Turn off that electronic device and sleep well, and you’ll awake to a stronger immune system.
- Value your vitamins: Vitamin D is found in fish, cheese, mushrooms and fortified foods. Levels drop lowest in winter, as our skin can’t synthesize enough vitamin D from the sun. Data shows “Vitamin D deficiency markedly increases the chance of having severe disease after infection with SARS Cov-2. The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D-deficient COVID-19 patients.” Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about your vitamin D levels, and if supplementation may be beneficial for you.
> While research is ongoing, vitamin C may also be a key immune player in fighting Covid-19. Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, as well as red pepper and broccoli.
> Zinc inhibits replication of the virus and keeps it from entering the cell. It’s found in beans, nuts, whole grains, red meat, eggs, kale and dairy products. Vegetarians may need to consider zinc supplementation.
- Water works: Hydrotherapy can pack an invigorating punch. Exposure to hot followed by cold water fortifies white blood cells that fight infection. Watch here and see how hydrotherapy can make a difference, including preventing and soothing respiratory illness.
Whether you’re trying to avoid COVID-19 or simply want to live healthier, the dividends of practicing wellness are priceless.