Because of COVID-19, the whole of Luzon is currently under lockdown and quarantine, and the rest of the Philippines under state of calamity.
The thing with COVID-19 that’s making it so much more dangerous and lethal is that one, it spreads fast; and two, there’s no cure for it yet.
Social distancing is still the most effective way to contain the virus. However, one of the best things we can also do while most of us are confined to our homes is to strengthen our immunity. It is the immune system, after all, who acts to fight pathogens like the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
So what are some ways to strengthen our immunity to give it a fighting chance against the coronavirus? You’ll be surprised at how much the anime Cells At Work can help us tell this story.
Cells At Work is a Japanese manga series about the anthropomorphized cells of a human body. The two main protagonists being a red blood cell and a neutrophil she frequently encounters. In 2018, the manga was made into an anime television series. It is now available on Netflix, but you can watch the trailer below to familiarize yourself.
Your nutrition is your very first line of defense against anything bad that wants to mess with your body. You need the right food and minerals to help keep you healthy during this time of lockdown and quarantine. Drink plenty of water, eat fruits and vegetables if you have access to them, limit fried food and refined sugars as much as possible, and stay away from sweetened drinks.
Eating healthy is key to building a strong body and a healthy gut microbiome. And a healthy gut microbiome is very essential during these times of defense against viruses. According to the latest study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, beneficial gut bacteria played a key role in the development of innate immune cells—specifically macrophages, monocytes, and neutrophils. These cells are special white blood cells that provide the first line of defense against invading pathogens, and are responsible for communication between your brain and your immune system.
According to a number of studies on COVID-19, the macrophage is also one of the first cells that a SARS-Cov-2 virus infects, which is essential in identifying that a bad cell is currently in the body and that it needs to be attacked.
Regular moderate exercise
Exercise can do a lot for the body. It can stimulate your body’s built-in antioxidant system, strengthen your respiratory system against infection, and help you absorb vitamins and minerals from the food that you eat.
One of the best things about exercise is that is also helps move and flush pathogens out of your airways, and it causes antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more rapidly and to the farthest reaches of your vascular system.
Take note, white blood cells are the first to react when there’s a pathogenic cell that enters the body—in this case, a possible COVID-19-inducing virus.
Be very careful though because while moderate exercise strengthens your immune response, excessive exercise that your body can’t handle just yet weakens it.
Boost your Vitamin D levels
In 2010, scientists at the University of Copenhagen found that Vitamin D is crucial in activating our immune defenses. In fact, if the body has insufficient Vitamin D, the killer T cells won’t be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. Vitamin D has also been found to be essential in transforming naïve T cells to killer T cells, who are primed to seek out and destroy foreign pathogen such as the virus.
Because of the quarantine, you may find yourself indoors a lot. But to gain enough levels of Vitamin D, try to spend at least 10 to 15 minutes under the sun. You can also get Vitamin D from eating more fish, eggs, and mushrooms.
Many studies have found regular meditation to have significant positive impact on the body, including decreased inflammation. Decreased inflammation is good in this case because it is linked to better immune function.
Mindfulness meditation is also linked to an increase of Helper T cells, which are communicators that alert the immune system that pathogens are present for the Killer T cells to terminate. So if you have a few minutes in your day to spare, look for one peaceful corner and start meditating.
Get enough sleep
Without the need to go through the daily commute, take the lockdown as an opportunity to get enough sleep, which should be 7 to 8 hours a day. People take sleep for granted, but it’s actually very crucial in helping the body strengthen its immune system.
According to a study by The Journal of Experimental Medicine, with less sleep, your T cells won’t be as strong in fighting off viruses. It is also during sleep that the body efficiently produces cytokines, which are proteins that direct cells towards infections to respond to the attack.
To get good sleep, make sure to avoid ingesting any caffeine six hours before sleep, and keep your naps short and before 5 p.m. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School also suggests to keep your bedroom temperature at 15-23 degrees Celsius and dimming (or turning off) all lights when going to bed to create that sleep-inducing environment.
Stay safe, everyone, and keep those cells at work!