Self-care is critical during the pandemic. While there is no magic formula to preventing COVID-19 transmission, you can boost your overall immune function and health and well-being by staying hydrated, getting more rest, taking key supplements and watching your diet – especially your sugar intake.
Why hydration is so important. Water is a vital part of all bodily functions. Drinking enough water not only improves skin, muscle and joint health, it helps the body’s cells absorb nutrients, fight infection and get rid of harmful toxins. Drink at least 8-10 glasses per day, more if you take certain medications or if you consume caffeine drinks.
Get your rest. We are all stressed to some extent during COVID-19, and many of our routines have gone by the wayside. Try to not let your sleep be negatively affected as its imperative for your overall health and well-being. At least 6-8 hours nightly allows your body to restore itself and can help you manage pandemic anxiety more effectively.
A tip for better sleep: Avoid blue light in the bedroom. This means your TV, computer or phone. Simply put it down or turn it off. The flickering blue light from your devices tricks your brain into thinking its daylight and can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Meditation. If you shut everything down and sleep is still evading you, try a quick meditation. Meditation allows your brain to find quiet and lets your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) rest be a greater percentage of your night’s sleep. REM sleep is the most rejuvenating form of sleep that you can get. You can learn more about this online or, if you must use a device at bedtime, new apps like Headspace provide a quick and soothing guided meditation.
Importance of supplements. The vitamins we take play a key role in preventing infection and helping fight disease. Vitamins A, C, E, and B6 all support healthy, normal immune responses to pathogens like viruses, as do minerals like folic acid, zinc, selenium, iron, and copper.
New studies also suggest that Vitamin B in particular may potentially prevent or reduce COVID-19 symptoms. Start with the basics, like a good daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, especially if you are not eating a well-balanced diet.
Vitamin D. During these unprecedented times, we also recommend adding extra Vitamin D to your daily regimen. Recent research has discovered more incidences of COVID-19 in countries with vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is the key to maintaining strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium, but it’s also essential in that it can boost the immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Even in sunny Arizona, many of us are not getting enough of this important nutrient derived from sunlight. This can be especially true for anyone quarantined or simply staying inside to avoid the summer heat. Ensure that you take Vitamin D after food, as its fat soluble, and aim for at least 2000 milligrams per day or more based on your Doctor’s advice.
Zinc. There has been a great deal of talk about Zinc and the novel Coronavirus. Zinc plays a vital role in immune function and has anti-virus properties. We suggest 50 milligrams twice daily after food as it may cause a fair amount of nausea if you don’t.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C supplements also boost your immune system and, perhaps more importantly, reduce the length of symptoms of any virus. Try taking at least 500 milligrams daily.
Diet, sugar and immunity. If you, like so many of us, have been indulging in candy bars and snacks more than usual, try to get back to eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and fiber.
Lay off the sugar, in particular, because it can cause a decrease in immunity within an hour after ingestion. Diet is one of the easiest and best ways to focus on the overall health of you and those closest to you.
While it’s important to note that none of these suggestions can necessarily prevent COVID-19, taking a proactive approach during these difficult times will help increase your sense of wellness. It’s important to remember to consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplement or health care regimen.
Lastly, wash your hands, practice social distancing and make smart decisions and, most of all, use common sense.
Sarah Neumann, MMS-PA-C, Physician Assistant and dietician, is the founder of Ahwatukee Skin & Laser at 4425 E. Agave Road, Bldg. #9, Suite 148, in Ahwatukee. Information: ahwatukeeskincare.com or 480-704-7546.