Is it a good idea to purposely expose yourself to certain viruses and diseases while your immune system is at its strongest , so you have an immunity to them when you are weaker”?
The Corona-Virus is a virus that spreads thru airborne droplets, much like most other viruses including the common cold and flu.
This ensures that the virus is able to spread quickly from person to person, but it doesn’t mean that every person who comes into contact with it will immediately be affected. This comes down to many factors, including the strength of your immune system. Just as some people manage not to get sick when everyone else in their family has the flu, it’s also possible for some people to resist the coronavirus if their immune system is up to the challenge.
There is no specific strategy to follow in order to fortify yourself against the coronavirus, but there are plenty of tips that can help to make you less susceptible to all forms of illness, which will in turn help you to stave off this particular illness.
The first and most profound way you can improve your immunity against all manner of illnesses and infections, is to make sure you have your nutrition well covered. The immune system is powered by what we eat, and is unable to perform optimally unless it gets the necessary ingredients.
In particular, vitamin C is considered one of the most important nutrients when it comes to supporting good health and fighting invaders. Among other things, vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning that it helps to destroy “free radicals” that otherwise damage cells. Vitamin C is also a precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which can help to put the body in a calmer and more restorative state (see below).
You can find vitamin C in countless different fruits and vegetables, including (in particular) citrus fruits, apples, peppers, kale, sprouts, berries, and more. Most people don’t need to supplement with extra vitamin C, but this being a water soluble vitamin means that it is nearly impossible to “overdose.”
Vitamin E meanwhile is a powerful antioxidant too but also a key player in many of the fundamental biochemical reactions throughout the body governed by the immune system.
Folic acid is extremely beneficial for our immune system too, so much so that it is often added to foods. This is especially true for young children. Folic acid is found readily in whole-grain products, such as rice and pasta.
Iron is important due to its role in forming blood cells. You’ll get iron from beans, broccoli, red meats, and fortified cereals.
Selenium is a useful ingredient for regulating the immune system, improving its efficiency and preventing unwanted inflammation and other effects. Selenium is found in garlic, broccoli, sardines, and tuna.
Another tip is to try and support a healthy microbiome. This refers to the collection of microbes living in your stomach, intestines, and elsewhere. Most bacteria are harmless and actually good for you, and in fact they play an important role of keeping bad bacteria AND bad viruses away. If you have a stronger gut fauna, then you will be less likely to contract viruses of all kinds.
So how do you support this in your own body? One tip is to try and consume more fibrous foods, as well as more fermented foods and yogurts. The latter two contain nature cultures of friendly bacteria, while the former will help to feed the bacteria by passing through to the areas where they live.
The most important thing you can do for your gut bacteria though, is to consume as varied a diet as possible. Studies show that the cultures with the strongest microbiomes are also those that eat a rich and varied diet. One good goal to aim for is to consume 50 different ingredients/foods every single week.
One of the most profound things you can do to strengthen your immune system is to avoid stress. This is something many of us don’t consider as being truly important, but the truth is that when you are highly stressed, you become “run down” and far more susceptible to colds and other illnesses.
There is actually a very logical reason for this. When you are stressed, this essentially places the body into what is known as a “fight or flight state.” This is the body’s response to danger, controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, and intended to help improve our chances of a positive outcome in a physical confrontation. This literally prepares your body to either get into a physical fight, or run away from a danger.
In the fight or flight mode, our body therefore increases production of adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, and other excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones. These trigger numerous physiological changes throughout the body: accelerating the heartrate, increasing muscle tone, narrowing vision, and even thickening the blood.
All these adaptations are intended to improve our chances of survival — the thickening of the blood for instance is intended to encourage clotting so that we will scab over and not bleed out in case of injury.
What this ALSO does though, is to drive blood and oxygen away from the vital organs and toward the muscles and the brain. We need muscle to fight, and we need a sharp mind to spot chances to escape. We DON’T need to be concerning ourselves with digestion at this point. Likewise, we don’t need to channel a lot of energy into immunity — there are more pressing concerns than the common cold right now! Thus, when you are stressed, your muscle tone increases but your immune system is suppressed.
In the wild where our bodies evolved, these kinds of threats would be immediate and short-lived. We might see a predator cross our paths, enter a stressed state, and then escape only to calm down. Today though, sources of stress often persist and follow us around. You might be stressed about some aspect of your relationship for instance, about money, or about your boss. Perhaps you have too much work on your plate in the office.
You come home and you think about these things, keeping you in that aroused state and keeping your immune system suppressed. This means you are going for long stretches of time as highly vulnerable to ANY illness that might attack. This is chronic stress, and it’s terrible for our health.
So how do you overcome this stress? For many of us, sources of stress are unavoidable. It’s not so easy to simply quit your job, and your money troubles are unlikely to go away overnight, even if you will them to!
What you can do though, is to change the way you react to those troubles. This is where meditation and mindfulness come in, both of which are tools that we can use to better manage our long-term chronic stress. Studies show that meditation can help to reduce the incidence of disease, and this is a great way to improve many other aspects of health too.
Another thing you can do is to try and counterbalance those negative moods with positive ones. That means spending time with friends, doing things you love, planning for the future, and going on holiday. If you think about the people you know who never seem to get sick, they’re likely the same people who have boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. This is not a coincidence!
Likewise, you also need to make sure that you sleep as healthily as possible. The opposite of the fight or flight response (which is also known as a sympathetic response, or a catabolic state), is rest and digest — or an anabolic state. It’s during this tie that our body sends more energy to our immune systems and digestion, to help us repair and fortify our bodies for the day ahead. This happens when we are physically and mentally at rest.
And you are never more at rest than when you are asleep. Sleep is the most anabolic state the body can enter naturally, and is a time when you will build muscle, restore tissue, and drive our infection and illness.
The more sleep you get, the more resilient you will be against all kinds of disease.
Some tips for getting the best sleep possible include:
● Making sure that your room is as dark and quiet as possible
● Investing in a better mattress
● Aiming to go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every night/morning
● Taking a warm bath or shower before bed
● Avoiding exposure to blue-light emitting devices for half and hour before bed
● Avoiding stimulating activities such as gaming or watching movies
● Using CBT and other methods to calm your thoughts
● Keeping the bedroom slightly cool. Keeping the window a jar is actually even better, as this helps you to feel the temperature cool and then heat up — important signals to the body.
With only a handful of reported cases of coronavirus in the US, your likelihood of contracting this disease is most likely if you are travelling. This is where the issue lies: when we travel we are far more likely to spend time in close proximity to strangers in sealed environments. Likewise, we are likely to be tired and jet lagged, to eat a diet that isn’t as healthy or varied as normal, and to experience high amounts of stress!
For all these reasons, it is important to try and make sure not to pile on events and travel right at the start of a trip. Upon arriving in a new country, spend time acclimatizing to the local timezone (it can help to spend more time outdoors), and seeking out good quality food.
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