The rapidly spreading coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a viral respiratory infection that causes flu-like symptoms. Despite the growing number of cases worldwide, the disease itself is not particularly fatal, especially given a functioning immune system and a lack of underlying conditions. Experts suggest that the disease can cause severe, life-threatening symptoms especially given immunocompromised individuals and preexisting respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.
Fortunately, it appears that recovery is possible. But it is largely dependent on the individual’s immune system and medical history. Ideally, the immune system should be able to identify and eliminate viruses and bacteria. However, the immune system can be compromised by factors like poor lifestyle and nutrition, thus rendering the body susceptible to infection and disease.
Natural remedies that reduce the risk of infection
Fortunately, natural remedies can strengthen immune functions and enhance immune responses to infection and disease.
As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is commonly linked to immunity enhancement due to its ability to stimulate the production of antibodies and white blood cells. It also has antibacterial properties that can inhibit the growth of bacteria given an infection. Moreover, vitamin C works alongside plant compounds that can also be found in vitamin C-rich foods, such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Together, these antioxidants enhance the body’s antiviral responses. Additionally, a recent study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine revealed that high doses of vitamin C are effective against the influenza virus. Common sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in immunity enhancement. Technically speaking, vitamin D is a prohormone produced by the liver and pancreas upon the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. That being said, its presence can significantly affect the body’s immune responses to disease-causing pathogens. In particular, vitamin D combats pathogens that cause respiratory conditions like asthma and pneumonia, according to a recent study published in The British Medical Journal. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin D include fish, eggs and mushrooms. Additionally, adequate sun exposure can boost vitamin D production.
Like vitamin C, vitamin E is also a popular antioxidant that is linked to immunity. White blood cells are known to contain high concentrations of vitamin E. As a vital component of the immune system, vitamin E regulates the number of natural killer cells that combat pathogens. Additionally, adequate vitamin E intake is linked to enhanced immune responses to infection, improved muscle strength and a reduced risk of chronic and degenerative diseases. To enjoy the health benefits of vitamin E, eat plenty of nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
The elderberry is an excellent source of antioxidants known as anthocyanins that enhance immune functions. As a natural remedy, the elderberry is commonly used to treat symptoms of the common cold due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Clinical trials suggest that the elderberry can also be used as a potent antiviral agent against the flu virus. Additionally, the elderberry contains high amounts of vitamin C that enhances its flu-fighting properties.
Kefir is a fermented beverage that contains yeast, milk proteins and bacteria. Like yogurt, kefir is also a great source of protein and probiotics that aid digestion and prevent gastrointestinal infections. But kefir also contains high amounts of B complex vitamins that keep the immune system strong. Moreover, kefir is known to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
You can easily create kefir milk by mixing active kefir grains and four cups of raw milk. Transfer the mixture into a jar or container and cover using a coffee filter or butter muslin. Let it rest in a warm spot to facilitate fermentation. Let the bacterial culture thrive until the mixture begins to emit a pleasant aroma. The mixture itself should have a thick consistency.
Protective measures against infection
Natural remedies can only do so much if you do not make an effort to lower the risk of infection. Therefore, it is recommended to observe protective measures that can not only prevent infection, but also give you peace of mind amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Practice personal hygiene
Good hygiene plays an important role in the prevention of infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends frequently washing the hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to ensure the total elimination of germs and bacteria. Observing proper cough and sneeze etiquette in public places can also safeguard against transmission. If you are a member of a household, it is also good practice to leave alcohol-based sanitizers or sanitizing wipes around common living areas.
Clean and disinfect surfaces
Contagious infections, such as pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19, spread via respiratory droplets. However, viruses can survive, so to speak, on solid surfaces. For instance, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can remain viable on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours. Therefore, an individual can still contract the infection by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth. To minimize the risk of exposure to contaminated surfaces, regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs, light switches and remote controls.
Exercise can go a long way toward enhancing the immune system. For instance, physical activity keeps the nasal tract clear of toxins and irritants. Depending on the type of exercise, physical activity can also strengthen the lungs, build stamina and improve endurance. Moreover, physical activity is linked to higher levels of antibodies and white blood cells that combat pathogens.
A strong immune system is well-equipped to combat pathogens. Given the current coronavirus pandemic, it is becoming increasingly important to strictly follow protective measures against infection, as well as prepare the body’s natural defenses by consuming immune-boosting foods that contain high amounts of nutrients.