The new coronavirus disease is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection that is rapidly spreading across the globe. As of this writing, cases continue to rise by the thousands. Experts deduce that the exponential growth of the disease may be influenced by several factors, such as personal hygiene and immunity.
But despite the staggering number of reported cases daily, the disease itself is not a death sentence. Recovery is possible, but it largely depends on the ability of the immune system to combat the virus.
The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against infection and disease. A functioning immune system should be able to recognize and eliminate disease-causing pathogens. However, poor nutrition and lifestyle habits greatly impair these vital immune functions, thereby rendering the body susceptible to a host of diseases.
Fortunately, certain preventive measures can greatly lower the risk of viral and bacterial transmissions.
Practice personal hygiene
Good hygiene plays an important role in the prevention of viral and bacterial infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends frequently washing the hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to eliminate germs and bacteria that you may have picked up. Observing cough and sneeze etiquette can also significantly lower the risk of spreading infections.
Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth
Contagious infections, such as pneumonia and the flu, spread via droplets. However, infections can also spread via exposure to contaminated surfaces. The new coronavirus, for instance, can remain viable on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours. Therefore, an individual can still contract the infection by unknowingly touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
Eat antioxidant-rich foods
A good way to fortify the immune system is to regularly consume foods that contain high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients. (Related: The impact of lifestyle behaviors on a person’s immune system.)
Oranges, lemons and tangerines are excellent sources of vitamin C, an immune-boosting essential vitamin. As an antioxidant, vitamin C prevents cellular damage caused by free radicals. Various citrus fruits also contain high amounts of carotenoids, plant compounds that enhance the body’s antiviral and antibacterial immune responses.
Garlic contains several sulfur-rich compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, such as allicin, alliin and ajoene. Garlic not only boosts the immune system but also acts as a potent remedy for chronic coughs, joint pain and hypertension.
Ginger is considered a superfood due to high amounts of vitamins and minerals including potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese and vitamin C. It also contains several bioactive compounds that have antioxidant effects against disease-causing pathogens.
Like many cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains phytonutrients that prevent viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Broccoli is also an excellent source of antioxidants that lower the risk of chronic diseases and premature aging.
Several varieties of mushrooms are hailed as potent remedies due to high amounts of antioxidants. Mushrooms also contain beta-glucan, a type of dietary fiber that is known to enhance the body’s immune responses.
Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep can significantly increase the risk of contracting viral and bacterial infections. During sleep, the immune system replenishes antibodies and white blood cells. Sleep deprivation disrupts this vital immune process, leading to a weak and ill-equipped immune system susceptible to infection.
Physical activity keeps the lungs and nasal tract clear of toxins and irritants. It is also linked to high levels of antibodies and white blood cells that fight disease-causing pathogens. Moreover, exercise can greatly enhance stamina and respiratory functions.
A strong immune system can greatly reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus disease. Boost immunity by practicing personal hygiene, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.