How can you support your immune system to fight colds, flu, and COVID-19?
Natural approaches to boosting immunity include exercise, diet, and sleep. Consistent physical activity has anti-inflammatory effects and may slow the age-related decline in immune function. The US Department of Health and Human services recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days per week. Sleep is also critical to immune support and is when the body has a chance to rest and recover. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to chronic inflammation and increases the chance of infection from the common cold. School aged children 6-12 years should get 9-12 hours of sleep per night, teens should get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. A balanced diet, especially with plenty of fruits and vegetables, is important for maintaining a strong immune system. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco which can decrease your body’s immune response is another important step to a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc are supplements that can be taken for immune support. Taking Vitamin C routinely may boost immunity and decrease the duration of a common cold. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to viral infections, and Vitamin D supplementation may be used to prevent upper respiratory tract infections and reduce the intensity and duration of respiratory infections. Zinc has also been shown to reduce the duration of a cold when taken at the start of cold symptoms.