People’s daily routines have come to a complete halt around the world. As healthcare systems and the CDC rush to find a vaccine for COVID-19, we sit and wait inside the safety of our homes while the novel coronavirus continues to spread. It may seem as though everything is out of our control, but that’s not the case. Your immune system is what protects and defends you against sickness and disease. By living healthier, your immune system will stay strong and protect you this season.
How Your Immune System Works
Your immune system is your first, last and best line of defense, preventing colds, flu, diseases and viruses, like the coronavirus, from infecting your body. A vast network of cells and tissues within your body, the immune system constantly looks out for intruders. When a pathogen, or foreign body comes in contact with you, it must sneak past several defenses like your skin or mucus in your nose and throat. As the pathogen intrudes your body, it hunts for cells it can take over while dodging your immune system.
Once a T-cell in your immune system spots an invader, a microscopic war begins. T-cells can distinguish our own tissues from foreign tissues. As the blaring alarms continue to go off, the foreign body races to spread and attack more cells. At the same time, adaptive white blood cells called lymphocytes direct an army of T-cells, antibodies and macrophages.
T-cells attach like Velcro to the infected cells and send molecules through the cells to kill them. Meanwhile, antibodies prevent the virus from further damage by locking onto its spikes used to attach to healthy cells. Then, larger white blood cells called macrophages clean up the mess by swallowing big clusters of dead virus particles. The fight continues until the contagion has been cleared; but next time it tries to enter the body, the lymphocyte will remember it. That is how you develop an immunity to certain illnesses.
The Immune System’s Kryptonite
Although the immune system sounds like a fighting machine, stress and lack of sleep weakens it.
Both stress and lack of sleep can interfere with T-cells, the special proteins that kill infected cells. Stress releases the hormone cortisol and lack of sleep activates the inflammatory response causing the activity of T-cells to slow and reduce. Without T-cells, your body will be more susceptible to pathogens attacking your cells.
Equally Important: Sleep and Stress Reduction
When it comes to the immune system, increasing quality sleep and reducing stress go hand-in-hand. During sleep, the immune system releases molecular messengers called cytokines. When you have an infection, inflammation or are under stress, cytokines need to multiply to interact with cells of the immune system. If your body doesn’t produce enough cytokines, then it cannot protect against the infection and your stress will continue to elevate. If your high stress level is sustained for too long, then your immune system will become overworked and over-tired. Therefore, getting enough sleep and reducing your stress can create more cytokines to aid your immune system’s protection.
What Can You Do to Beat the Coronavirus?
Right now, as the media covers the coronavirus 24/7, people’s daily lives are uprooted, creating stress. Don’t panic! Here are some things you can do to take back control of your life. First, calm your state of mind by giving yourself a break from the news and practice meditation or yoga. Also, with a lot more down time, aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night to boost your mood and immune system. While sleep and de-stressing is important during this season, there are a few more things to boost your immune system:
A Daily Dose of Probiotics
Since 70% of your immune system lives here, let’s start with your gut. Your gut bacteria can help teach your immune system’s T-cells the differences between a foreign substance and your body’s own tissues. Taking probiotic supplements or eating fermented foods can decrease the number of “bad” bacteria that causes infection or inflammation. Probiotics can secure the barrier that particles, such as “bad” bacteria, can pass through and go into the rest of your body. In addition, probiotics can recover the “good” bacteria that was once lost and restore the bacterial balance that helps keep your body functioning properly.
Get Your Blood Pumping
Most people know that exercise is in and of itself a stress reliever, releasing the happiness hormone dopamine. With reduced stress, exercise also improves your sleep which are two weaknesses of your immune system. Therefore, exercising regularly can help you get your immune system in butt-kicking gear. It is recommended to get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity such as running. Exercise may contribute more directly to good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job more efficiently.
The best thing that you can do during this difficult time is to focus on what we can do ourselves to strengthen our immune system. Hopefully these tools will help you combat the coronavirus and stay healthy. As everyone bunkers down, you may find natural alternative solutions, such as Natural Recovery Greens, to help you sleep, de-stress and get the nutrients your body needs to stay strong and healthy.