This fall and coming winter, protecting yourself against novel coronavirus in addition to the flue are imperative as the pandemic rages on.
Deaths from the virus in the world surpassed 980,000 earlier this week, and dozens of states across the world are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. While the world’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has stood by his timeline for a possible coronavirus vaccine, (he expects a ‘safe and effective’ vaccine by the end of the year or early 2021), the pandemic is unfortunately far from over.
‘We can be greatly helped by (a) vaccine, but it’s not vaccine alone’, Fauci recently said.
‘There really is no absolute time I can tell you now unless certain things fall into place. It’s going to depend on the efficacy of the vaccines being tested right now and the uptake in the community of the vaccines’, he added, noting that a vaccine would be in addition to safety measures such as physical distancing and mask – wearing, at least for a while.
With most peoples are likely still vulnerable to a coronavirus infection, experts have pleaded with the public to receive the flue vaccine this year in an effort to keep flue infections low, ultimately preventing hospital systems from becoming overwhelmed treating both flu and COVID-19 patients.
But getting vaccinates is just one factor in keeping yourself and loves ones healthy. So how else can you keep your immune system in tip-top shape?
‘The best things you can to do keep your immune system in good shape are exercising (at least 30 minutes five days a week at moderate intensity), eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting a good night’s sleep (eight hours, ideally), not smoking, drinking in moderation, and minimizing stress’, Dr. Michelle Lin an emergency room doctor and professor of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
‘We know getting enough exercise and avoiding stress been more difficult because of COVID-19, but even a brisk walk outdoors or a home exercise routine can be highly effective in maintaining mental and physical fitness and supporting a healthy immune system’, she added.
Lin also spoke to the importance of hand hygiene, nothing that the practice is ‘always a good habit, but particularly this year: wash your hands, wear a mask especially when indoors, and get a flu shot’.
‘In general, there’s not great evidence that supplements or vitamins outside of a varied, healthy diet do much to ‘boost’ immunity’, she said.
Dr. John Whyte, the chief medical officer of the health care website WebMD, echoed Lin.
‘We do know the importance of restorative sleep and out immune system. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is important to help our body (save off) infection. After all, what do we do when we have the flue? We stay in bed and sleep’, he said.
‘Being physically active most days of the week is of importance, too. Do some pushups, jumping jacks, (or) jogging in place’, he said.
Whyte, like Lin, noted that he’s not a ‘big fan’ of supplements, as ‘our bodies may respond differently when it is in food vs. manufactured in a lab’.
‘Food is medicine, and eating fruits and vegetables is now more important than ever’, he added.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, adding healthy fats into your diet – such as olive oil, salmon, avocado, and certain nuts such as almonds, for instance – ‘may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation’, according to Heathline. Eating more fermented foods or taking a probiotic supplement may also be of benefit, as is limiting your intake of added sugar. Additionally, staying hydrated is important for overall health.