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10 ways to boost your immunity against coronavirus

BY PANCHAJANYA PAUL, MD*

Coronavirus infection is spreading across the world and becoming a pandemic. Already there many many reported cases of death from COVID-19 . Let us try to understand what is going on and what we can do about it. Firstly, coronaviruses are nothing new. Coronavirus comes in many strains, and most of them cause the common cold and mild flu-like symptoms in humans. Every few years, some virulent strains emerge, which can become dangerous to people with low immunity.

This year a new strain of Coronavirus has emerged from China called the COVID-19. This new strain has already killed many people in China and is now spreading worldwide. The COVID-19 was first identified in the Wuhan City of China and is believed to be originated from bats. The virus spreads from one human through the air when an infected individual sneezes or coughs nearby. It can also spread when one touches any surface which has the nasal or oral secretion of an infected person. In most cases, the virus causes mild cold or flu-like symptoms. However, in people with low immunity, the virus can cause severe respiratory infection and fatal pneumonia. Elderly, sick, pregnant, and babies are more susceptible and need more protection.

The Center for Disease Control ( CDC ) recommends the following safety measures to prevent the transmission of the corona viruses-Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you feel sick. If you have to go out, use a face mask.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Alcohol-based sanitizer can be used when soap is unavailable.

At present, there is no drug or vaccine available to tame the kill Coronavirus. In general, when a new virus emerges, It will take many months to years before a drug to treat, or vaccine to prevent the infection is discovered. That may be too late for many.

The most reliable way to fight against any viral infection is to keep your immunity levels high. A healthy body can fight against most germs. Here are ten ways to boost immunity against the Coronavirus infection:

  1. Vitamin C: Linus Pauling, a two times Nobel laureate postulated that a high dose of vitamin C could protect against the common cold, the most common viral infection.  All raw fruits, vegetables, and meat are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B. Much of vitamin B & C get destroyed during the cooking process. Good sources of vitamin C are Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, berries, and limes. Also, one can take vitamin C supplements.
  • Probiotics: Our body harbors billions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which exists in a symbiotic relationship with the human genes. These so-called good bacteria live as long as we are alive. These good bacteria called probiotics fight against the harmful virus and bacteria.  Eating food rich in a soluble fiber called pre-biotics supports these friendly bacteria. Any time we take antibiotics, we kill some of the good bacteria which make our body week. Probiotic-rich food is yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and pickles. Probiotics sold in stores are useful too if one is on antibiotics.
  • Soups and Stocks: Soups, stocks, and broths have been a traditional part of cuisine in cold regions. When we simmer the bones and meat for a long time and prepare a stew, many nutrients otherwise not available in the regular diet becomes accessible.  The hyaluronic acid and collagen present in the broth help fight against the germs. Soups containing vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals. For vegetarians, a healthy alternative is a curry made with turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, yogurt, and other herbs.
  • Cod Liver Oil– Cod liver oil has been used as a health superfood in Europe for thousands of years. It contains a high dose of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and omega 3 acids. Similar nourishing sources are shark, krill, and skate liver oil; and desiccated beef liver capsules.  For vegetarians, a suitable substitute will be to take a spoon of butter oil or grass-fed ghee every morning.
  • Saturated Fat– During the cold weather, the body burns fat to keep warm. In the process, the body can become depleted in fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Taking food rich in saturated fat will boost up the levels of fat-soluble vitamins. Besides, cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant and helps fight infection and cancer. High blood cholesterol increases the risk of heart diseases. Similarly, low blood cholesterol increases the risk of cancer and infection. Healthy fat to include are coconut, avocados, palm oil, organic grass-fed meat, egg, and dairy. 
  • Honey: Honey is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, which help in immunity. The bees produce honey from the nectar of the flowers. Germs are always evolving in the wild, and plants are the first to encounter them. Local raw honey is especially crucial as it can boost immunity against the local germs in your area. The world health organization, as well as the British and Canadian health bodies, have recommended the use of honey to treat cold and cough for young children.
  • Onion & Garlic: Every time we feel sick, many go to the doctor to get a prescription of antibiotics. Vegetables like Onion and garlic contain natural antibiotics in them. They boost your immunity and generate heat in the body, especially useful for the winter months. Unfortunately, many Hindu vegetarians avoid onion and garlic for religious beliefs, which may be okay for warm Indian climate, but put them at health risk in the United States,  during the winter months.
  • Exercise: Physical exercise increases the blood flow to the body and the brain. The rapid breathing associated with vigorous training helps clear the airways and detoxifies the body. During exercise, the body makes free radicals. These free radicals kill germs and cancer cells. Exercise also makes our lungs, heart, bones, and muscles stronger, and make the body resilient against all diseases.
  • Outdoor time: Nowadays, everyone spends too much time indoors- be it at home, work, car, malls, gyms, and restaurants. Living indoors under artificial lights is unnatural for the human body. We get exposure to the sun, which increases our vitamin D levels. We also breathe fresh air rich in oxygen. When outdoors in nature, we breathe in the healthy bacteria present in the soil and air. Outdoor time under the sun and fresh air rejuvenates the body and boosts our immunity.
  1.  Sleep: Our body is continuously exposed to germs from the things we touch with our skin, the air we breathe in, and the food we eat. When we sleep, the body gets freed up from the daily chores and can focus all its resources on fighting the germs detoxification. Even a poor sleep for a single night lowers our ability to fight germs the next day.

On a personal note, as a doctor working in three different hospitals, I might already be exposed to the virus. The same is inevitable for many whose job requires them to travel and interact with various people like those working in a school, mall, airport, and hospital. And exposure to the virus may not be harmful to health. For example,- I am in my mid-thirties and good health. If infected, my body will produce antibodies to fight the virus. In the process, my body will acquire immunity against the virus, and if the same virus attacks me when I am old and week, my body will be prepared. However, if you are not in your best health, try your best to avoid the Coronavirus exposure by avoiding non-urgent travel and contact with others.

 In summary, following a healthy lifestyle has become even more critical in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Do not panic. Most people coming in contact with Coronavirus will do fine without any symptoms. Stay positive, follow necessary precautions, and remains mindful about your diet, sleep, exercise, and stress. There is no escape from newer threats, and a strong immunity remains the best preparation for all present and future threats.

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*Dr. Panchajanya ‘Panch’ Paul, MD, ABIHM, ABPN, FAPA – is an American Board certified – Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds an adjunct faculty position at Emory University School of Medicine, University of Georgia, and University of Central Florida School of Medicine. He is also the author of 2 books- Stress Rescue and Sleep Coaching available at Amazon.

To schedule an appointment with Dr.Paul – call 6789719339 or email georgiapsychiatry@gmail.com.

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