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Support your immune system against coronavirus (COVID-19)

Your immune system is there to protect against disease. If bacteria or viruses attack the body, the immune system should respond. But there are some simple ways to help strengthen your immune system – and they might not be what you expect.
18 Mar 2020

Your immune system is there to protect against disease. If bacteria or viruses attack the body, the immune system should respond. But there are some simple ways to help strengthen your immune system – and they might not be what you expect.

What is the immune system?

There are many different parts of the body that protect against foreign organisms. The ultimate protection is the skin and the continuous mucous membrane that covers the oral cavity, as well as other internal organs such as your intestinal tract and lungs.

But your body and blood also contain a complex network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection by finding, attacking and breaking down foreign organisms that can otherwise cause disease.

With the current coronavirus outbreak, it’s more important than ever to have a strong immune system. So here are some simple ways to help strengthen it.

5 things you can do to support your immune system

1. Eat well

Try to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All the usual suspects - lean meat, fish, grains, pulses, and of course 5 portions of fruit and vegetable each day. And try to wash it down with water, not alcohol!

2. Stay active

Regular physical activity is important. So try to maintain an exercise routine at home – or some version of it – as long as you feel healthy. Going to the gym isn’t a good idea, but getting some fresh air in the garden or going for a walk/run is okay as long as you are well and don’t have to self-isolate. Stay away from crowded places and avoid social contact.

3. Sleep well

It’s natural not to be able to sleep well at times of stress and anxiety. But that makes it extra important to prioritize your sleep and put in place good sleep habits. The positive effects of sleep on the body are extensive.

4. Try to reduce stress

Again this is not always easy. But don’t neglect activities that aid relaxation such as walking in nature, deep-breathing, listening to or playing music, practicing yoga and meditating. Whatever works for you!

5. Make time to talk

Just because you can’t always see people face-to-face doesn’t mean you can’t connect. Forget texting. Pick up the phone or video call friends and family. Whether it’s a light-hearted chat or a meaningful conversation, speaking to the people you care about reduces stress and its impact on your immune system.

We hope some of these ideas help, but remember this lifestyle advice is not intended to replace any treatment or medical advice from a GP. If you have, or suspect you have a medical problem, always speak to a GP first.

Reviewed by: Dr Hemal Shah, Livi
March 19 2020

Last updated:
18 Mar 2020

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