Medically reviewed by Dr. Shunmukha Priya, Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition
The novel Coronavirus that broke out in China has made its way to India too and the number of infected according to the latest reports are are 6,744 as per the latest figures from Union Health Ministry.
The death toll from Covid-19 rose to 233 while 483 patients have been cured of the virus or discharged. (latest update on April 10th 2020)
While there is no cure for Coronavirus and vaccinations are still under development, isolation and self-care will enable recovery. The best way to control the spread of infection is to take preventative measures. Apart from that, building immunity can prevent the catching of infections. A strong immunity can fight off infections efficiently.
People, in general, lack immunity these days owing to factors like poor food choices, unhealthy lifestyle and little to no physical activities.
Here we bring you certain tips and snippets of information on how to improve immunity.
Natural ways to improve immunity
Upping the defence of your immune system will help you fight against viruses, bacteria and pathogens that cause flu and cold. This is in a way applicable to the latest novel Coronavirus since it actually causes cold and other flu-like symptoms in a healthy person.
People above 60 yrs of age, children and people with other health conditions like diabetes will only develop other complications due to Coronavirus. By improving certain lifestyle habits, which are listed below, your body’s immunity can be naturally improved.
1. Making dietary changes
Diet plays the most important role when it comes to improving body immunity. Your diet should be rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and certain vitamins and minerals. These foods are the key to a healthy immune system.
Therefore, a diet that supports a healthy immune system should contain foods providing high-quality and complete protein, such as that found in eggs, fish, beans, peas, legumes, dals, nuts, seeds.
Micronutrients like Vitamin C are proven to support the immune system. It has antioxidant activity. Some of the good sources of vitamin C are amla, citrus fruits like lemon, orange and guava. Several vegetables are also good sources of vitamin C.
Similarly, B-vitamins are also important in supporting a healthy immune system. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the above-mentioned vitamins.
It is important to note that the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K are also important to overall health.
Vitamin A can be found in cod liver oil, yellow, orange coloured fruits and vegetables, green leafy vegetables, dairy and eggs. All nuts, seeds and their oils are rich in vitamin E. Dark green vegetables like broccoli are rich in vitamin K.
To improve your body’s immunity, eat;
- Citrus fruits
- Bell peppers
- Green tea
- Sunflower seeds
- Poultry (chicken)
These foods are rich in antioxidants, vitamin c, unsaturated fats, probiotics and all the aforementioned vitamins and minerals.
2. Improving gut health
Gut microbial communities (microbiota) provide health benefits to us in many ways, such as, digestion, production of nutrients, detoxification, protection against pathogens and regulation of the immune system.
To improve gut health, include in the diet,
- Whole grains based products
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Studies have revealed people who do not get enough sleep have higher chances of developing cold and flu. 
4. Exercise every now and then
Exercising not only helps you with weight loss, but it also strengthens your immune system. People who exercise regularly rarely develop cold or flu.
It is noteworthy that exercising too much can leave the body weak momentarily. This will affect the immune system making the body more susceptible to infections. Therefore, exercises should be done in moderation.
5. Distance yourself from stress
Too much stress will release an excessive amount of cortisol – a stress hormone. This will affect the immune system and can meddle with its flight or fight response.
To manage stress better, you can practice meditation or indulge in other engaging activities like joining a kickboxing class or art class. This will do good to your both mind and body.
5. Taking supplements
As mentioned, certain vitamins like A, K, C, B6 etc are very vital for a healthy immune system and any vitamin deficiency can adversely affect your immunity. Therefore, if you fall sick often check if you have adequate levels of vitamins in your body.
Any deficiency, your doctor might suggest supplements and make dietary changes. This will improve immunity.
6. Maintain hygiene
With Coronavirus turning pandemic, practising hygienic is indeed extremely important given the current scenario. In fact, health organisations like WHO and CDC have issued public notices on hygienic practices and recommend certain guidelines in order to prevent infections.
Cultivating simple practices like washing your hands often for 20 seconds thoroughly, disinfecting frequently used surfaces and covering your face while sneezing or coughing will prevent the spread of infections. These hygienic practices will also improve your immunity.
As much as you are eager about learning how to improve immunity, you should also be committed towards working for it. Remember, immunity cannot be strengthened overnight and a strong immunity is need of the hour to keep infections at bay.
Taking few precautions will also help you greatly in keeping yourself and your family safe from Coronavirus. For instance, avoid travelling of any sorts unless and until it is absolutely necessary. Similarly, if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick, get yourself tested and self-quarantine for your own wellness and safety of others.
Apart from this, be hygienic always and communicate the same with your family, friends and peers. Awareness has helped people put an end to various epidemics in the past and it is the same with this novel Coronavirus too.
Stay healthy, stay safe!