As a result of rising concerns over the spread of coronavirus, claims of what might help you avoid catching the virus are also on the rise. While you can’t prevent getting coronavirus by chugging orange juice at every meal or sipping on a bowl of chicken soup, there are a few things you can do to help strengthen your immune system, which can reduce your overall chance of getting seriously sick.
Elizabeth MacGregor from Endeavour College of Natural Health, says eating a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables can help your immune system fight off illnesses.
MacGregor recommends adding orange slices to salads, snacking on carrots in between meals, and serving up dinner alongside some roasted veggies. MacGregor also advises cooking with herbs and spices. In fact, many common kitchen spices, like ginger, turmeric, oregano, and cinnamon, have hidden health benefits that you might not be aware of. For example, a 2017 study found that oregano oil has strong antioxidant properties.
“Slow-cooked meals that include an adequate serve of protein, your favourite vegetables, herbs and spices, are easy to digest and deliver some of the required nutrients for healthy immune support,” she says.
Meanwhile, there’s evidence that some herbal teas can also help strengthen the immune system. MacGregor recommends making ginger tea with lemon and honey daily. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, ginger is a great tool for boosting your immune system naturally.
You also need plenty of vitamin D, MacGregor reckons. Research shows that increased vitamin D intake, especially in older people, could strengthen people’s immunity against viral infections. But many older people are failing to get their daily recommended dose of the important vitamin.
“Even just half an hour in the morning with some skin exposed will help you reach your vitamin D quota,” she says.
Sleep is also important for your immune system. Research shows that sleep-deprived people can have suppressed immunity, meaning that they’re more at risk of getting sick.
So, how many hours of sleep do we need to reap the benefits? Most adults aged 26 to 64 years need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, while those aged 65 or older need seven to eight hours of sleep per night to feel rested and alert.
For a good night’s sleep, MacGregor recommends limiting screen time before bed. Too much exposure to night-time blue light (through smartphones, tablets and computers), can lead to a number of health outcomes, including difficulty sleeping.
MacGregor also advises washing your hands well and regularly during the day to “prevent the transmission of flu viruses and avoid touching your face as much as possible”.