How many of us have been paying extra close attention to our immune systems lately? In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s difficult to avoid the desire to keep our bodies as healthy as possible. And while there are different measures that have proven to be effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 -- like social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent testing -- we know that a strong immune system is a solid defense against the virus. Like Dr. Rutland said, vaping weakens your immune system, and has been connected to an increased risk of testing positive for COVID-19. So we asked him: what can we do right now to keep our immune systems in fighting shape?
1. Get enough sleep
Young people aren't getting enough sleep. In fact, more than three-quarters of high school students do not get the recommended 7 hours amount of sleep on a given weeknight. And 1 in 3 young adults don't get enough sleep, either. While getting enough sleep is necessary for many reasons, it can also help fortify your immune system by boosting your “T cells” ability to fight off infection.
2. Eat foods rich in Vitamin C
Yes, sinking your teeth directly into a head of broccoli is one way to quickly ingest vitamins and antioxidants – but in case that’s not your style, there are plenty of other foods that pack the same immune-boosting benefits. Kale, kiwis, Brussels sprouts, and oranges are all rich in Vitamin C. Of course, there’s always the option to reach for those bright orange gummies, too – just don’t overdo it.
3. Get plenty of exercise
When it comes to general health, staying active may seem like a no-brainer. It can help improve your cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and protect against a variety of diseases. But regular exercise can also enhance your immune system’s ability to do its job by promoting circulation. Basically – the more you move about, the more your immune system’s cells and substances can move about your body, doing their thing.
4. Manage stress
Keeping stress at bay during a global pandemic is no easy challenge, but the more you can introduce stress-relieving practices into your everyday lifestyle, the more you’ll be prepared to care for your body during times of increased stress. Things like meditationcan enhance your immune system by reducing stress.
5. Take an ice bath
Taking a cold shower or plunging into an ice bath might not sound like the most enticing activity at the end of the day, but studies have shown that immersing in cold water can increase blood flow and circulation, and improve the function of your immune system.
6. Don’t vape
It’s simple – skip the vape if you want to keep your immune system strong. Research has shown that vaping weakens your immune system by impairing cell function in the lungs and decreasing blood flow. Recently, new studies have shown that vaping or smoking may increase the risk of needing intensive care, or even dying from COVID-19. Another study showed that young people who vaped were 5x more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19.
Whether you’re leaning toward a raw-onion-and-ice-bath-a-day approach, or thinking of upping your sexual activity, there are plenty of ways to show your immune system some love right now.