COVID-19 is scary, but the flu is still a threat

couple_in_bed_with_flu

With the focus of the entire world on the dangers of coronavirus, worrying about the flu seems to have fallen through the cracks.

While it’s true that COVID-19 warrants our attention, experts are warning that the standard flu is still dangerous… and with good reason.

In fact, this flu season has seen up to 45 million cases in the United States alone, with more than 310,000 people hospitalized and up to 46,000 deaths.

Yet, amid the furor over COVID-19, all of this has somehow gotten lost.

Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that your chances of contracting the flu are far higher than contracting the coronavirus. With the season peaking, it has never been more important to start taking steps to boost your immune system.

Your best defense

Your immune system is your body’s best defense in the battle against the viruses you risk exposure to on a daily basis, including the strains of flu floating around right now.

The second a foreign invader enters your system, your immune system steps in like the knight to guard the castle.

It can trigger a cough or sneeze to help expel that virus before it takes hold or send out messages to start pumping out white blood cells and other chemicals whose job is to destroy that virus. The white blood cells work by locking on to the germs that make you sick, deciphering their code, then killing the microbe.

When your immune system is not at its best

However, your immune system might not always be at its best.

In fact, there are numerous factors that can weaken your immune response, leaving you open to infection. It can be weakened by:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Medications
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity

With a list like that, it’s easy to see how a once strong immune system could start allowing dangerous germs to slip through the cracks.

Boosting your immune system

Luckily, even when the deck is stacked against you, there are things you can do to keep your immune system humming along so you can stay well.

#1 — Control stress

Since stress can make you more susceptible to illness, you should take steps to better manage the stress you’re under now to prevent problems in the coming weeks. Great options you can try, even if you’re stuck at home thanks to the dreary weather, include meditation, yoga and deep breathing.

#2 — Rest better

You should also make sure that you get adequate sleep each night. During sleep, your body repairs and heals. And if you’re not getting enough rest, your body’s production of the white blood cells you need to fight off infection is compromised. This makes it vital to get your eight hours.

#3 — Eat the rainbow

To shore up your immune system, doctors recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to “eat the rainbow,” incorporating plenty of brightly colored options into your daily diet to enhance your nutrient intake.

#4 — Exercise

Regular physical activity can help keep your immune system strong and is great for managing the stress than can weaken your immune response.

#5 — Supplement

Certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients can have a big effect on immune system function.

Important ones to consider include:

  • Vitamin A — This vitamin helps enhance immune function thanks to its anti-inflammatory capabilities.
  • Vitamin D — Also known as “the sunshine vitamin,” D helps regulate your immune response.
  • Vitamin E — Vitamin E is known for helping maintain immune system function, despite aging.
  • Iron — Iron is necessary for immune cells to proliferate and mature.
  • Folic acid — Folate helps your DNA to repair itself to keep your immune system strong.
  • Zinc — Zinc not only enhances immune function, it helps tap the brakes to keep the inflammation that comes with infection from spiraling out of control.
  • Black seed oil — Also known as Nigella Sativa, black seed oil is packed with thymoquinone — a compound that has been extensively researched and shown to act as an immune system modulator, helping your system kick into high gear right when it needs to in order to fight a virus battle.

Use the tips above to help keep your immune system strong so your body can be ready for anything.


Sources:

What to Know as Flu Season Nears Peak

2019-2020 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary Burden Estimates

Flu closes schools, leads to ‘fist bumps’ instead of handshaking at churches

Information on Novel Coronavirus

How Your Immune System Fights Infection

How to stay healthy with a weak immune system

6 Signs You Have a Weakened Immune System

SMOKING AND OVERALL HEALTH

6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health — Not Just Your Liver

How Aging Affects Your Immune System

Medications that Weaken Your Immune System and Fungal Infections

Stress, Illness and the Immune System

Can Better Sleep Mean Catching Fewer Colds?

Exercise and immunity

Stress, poor diet, inadequate sleep can affect your immunity: Here’s what you can do to ward off disease this summer

Vitamin D and the Immune System

Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System

Vitamin E and immunity.

[Role of iron in immunity and its relation with infections].

Ask the doctor: Does folic acid improve immunity?

Zinc helps against infection by tapping brakes in immune response