Simple ways to boost your immunity amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:56 AM, Jun 24, 2020

Protecting yourself from sickness has become a top priority for many people right now.

Whether you're trying to steer clear of the novel coronavirus or germs in general, there are a few simple things families can do to keep their immunity in top form.

"First, it's important to remember that nothing you do is 100% guaranteed in preventing you from getting sick, but there are certain lifestyle changes you can make that can actually help your immune system react better when there are pathogenic invaders that would cause diseases," said SaVanna Shoemaker, a registered dietician with Healthline.

Shoemaker and other experts overwhelmingly say getting enough sleep is number one.

"Making sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep,” said Shoemaker. Sleep and immunity are so deeply linked, so just getting adequate sleep can help you from getting sick as often."

"When you have a disruptive sleep cycle and you're not getting good, adequate, restorative sleep, then our immune system takes a hit for that," said Joe Weydert, the Chair of Integrative Medicine at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She says younger children need nine to 11 hours of sleep, while teenagers could use eight to 10 hours.

Also, watch out for stress. Consistent, high levels of stress can weaken your immune system.

"In these goofy times that we’re living in right now, we’re all experiencing high levels of stress. Kids may not say 'Oh mom, I’m stressed,' but they may manifest it by being more irritable or not sleeping well," said Weydert.

Getting outside or prioritizing time to relax can help.

Another major factor in keeping our immunity strong is our diet – eating rich, whole foods that are not processed. Probiotics can also help.

As for supplements, "the thing you need to consider with supplements is there’s no guarantee. Now there are some supplements that some studies show may boost your immunity, but so far there’s no research in any supplement that shows it can prevent COVID-19," said Shoemaker.

Vitamin D has a direct impact on our immune system, preferably straight from the sun. Elderberry is a supplement that's strongly recommended by many doctors for families, as it acts as a barrier to viruses.

"Other nutrients which I think are important are vitamin C and zinc. Those work together to help make what we call tight junctions in the epithelial cells. So, our epithelial cells need to be tight together so germs can't get through and vitamin C and zinc help maintain that tight junction with things," said Weydert.

While supplements are certainly beneficial, experts advise getting the vitamins naturally through food. These tools are helpful in keeping your immune system at its best and a great addition to other safety measures like wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing as many do their best to avoid COVID-19.