COVID-19 or more commonly known as Coronavirus, has caused global pandemic since its first outbreak in Wuhan, China. From the time this article is published, coronavirus has caused 9,989 deaths with more than 241,750 confirmed cases (and growing).
As we cannot keep up on the latest figures, you may find a shortlist of the top real-time Coronavirus live trackers handy. Here is the link.
Now, coronavirus was found to be 23 times more fatal than seasonal flu as it breaks down your immune system causing lung and liver failure. And the rate of transmission between one person to another drives the doctors insane.
On 17th February 2020, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a clinical report in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology that shows COVID-19 killed 2.3 percent of patients from 73,400 cases.
What was more interesting from that research is that Chinese authorities have reported 12,000 patients recovered from the coronavirus. As authorities have not found a cure to this virus, this recovery revealed rather an interesting subject on how our immune system reacts to the virus.
Before we share our thoughts on how best to increase your immune system against coronavirus, you need to understand which part of your organ is vulnerable and the key elements of your immune system.
Your lung is the most vulnerable to coronavirus
According to WHO, coronavirus causes respiratory diseases. In short, COVID-19 virus begins to attack your lungs and two things can possibly happen – either it will end in your lungs or it can spread to other parts of your body (such as the liver or kidney failure). It is widely reported that once you have been attacked, it takes more than 12 months to fully recover.
There are three stages of the attack.
Flu-like symptoms with or without fever. At this stage it is hard to ascertain whether the coronavirus will continue to spread. It can stay dormant for at least 10 days before it goes to the second stage of attack. Hence why people are diagnosed with coronavirus can go pass the thermal scanners at the airports without any early warning signs.
Many patients diagnosed with coronavirus will develop pneumonia in both lungs and this are usually accompanied by symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, cough and other forms of breathing difficulties.
Lung damage continues to build—which can result in respiratory failure depending on your health condition and age. In severe cases, you will witness patients coughing blood and other extreme conditions. Some patients may survive this stage or recover with permanent lung damage.
How does it transmit?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, coronavirus contained in micro droplets of saliva, mucus, or other bodily fluids can be easily transferred through skin contact (i.e touch), kissing or airborne (eg: if you the person is sneezes directly to you or next to you).
For those travelling by plane, droplets containing coronavirus cannot affect others through the cabin air circulation vents, but instead it easily infecting others close to where they originate.
So if a person sneezes or coughs next to you, then you need to take extra caution by not touching the seats with your hands.
And don’t forget to wash your hands often!
What is immune system?
Our immune system is a defense mechanism in our body that protects us from viruses and germs. The immune system is a complex system made up of organs and vessel systems including a network of individual cells and proteins.
The main parts of the immune system are:
Do you know the immune system is “highly intelligent” that it keeps a record of every germ it has ever defeated so it can recognise and destroy the germ in future?
We will not go into details, but you can read more about immune system here.
Are Face Masks Effective to Protect Your Immune System?
Here is an interesting fact.
Surgical face masks will not save you from getting infected although many believed that it can reduce the risks of transmission. Consensus indicated that surgical face masks do not work against airborne viruses including coronavirus.
Surgical masks are designed to prevent harmful large contaminants or micro-particles into your body – eg: size of 2.5 microns in diameter from diesel fumes, or others.
The size of the coronavirus particles is currently unknown. As a reference, the SARS virus which originated from China years ago was 0.1 microns in diameter.
Whilst CDC recommends wearing masks to reduce the risks, it does not guarantee that you are safe from being infected by Coronavirus.
The other option is to take preventive measures to boost your immune system.
How can you boost your immune system?
The short answer lies in the secret of 70:30 rule. 70% diet and 30% exercise.
This is the conventional wisdom to the secret of keeping fit, losing weight, longevity or achieving a healthy life generally.
Keeping strictly to this rule will enable you to have a strong immune system against most diseases.
Now, lets break it down into two parts.
Part 1: Start with right exercises
How many times have you heard this from health experts, nutritionists or doctors? The fact of the matter is exercise helps you build stronger immune system.
Exercise and keeping fit are undoubtedly effective to achieve a good health and subsequently assisting your body to develop a robust immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good blood circulation with fresh oxygen supply, which in turn allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and efficiently.
A more pragmatic question is how long should you exercise to boost your immune system?
The answer is – 20 minutes daily.
Researchers at the University of California-San Diego of Medicine found that 20 minutes of exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immune system.
What if you don’t have the luxury of time to spend 20-minute doing exercises?
Well, have you tried any of these unusual exercises at your workplace? It may not be as effective, but it is worth a try.
- Climb up the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator
- Walk to your office instead of taking the public transport
- Do 40 squats at your pantry during lunch hour
- Order and carry 10 lunch sets for your colleagues in the office.
- Jog to your office every morning and carry 5kg dumbbell with you daily.
Interestingly, we found many workouts which can help to boost your immune system. Our personal favorite workout can be found here.
Remember one thing. Do not over-exercise as your body will interpret as “stress”.
Part 2: Consume the Right Diet & Supplements
Here is the second part, i.e diet & supplement which is equally if not more important than your exercises.
Consensus by doctors, nutritionists and virologists is that having the right diet and supplements can increase your chance to boost your immune system.
From an article published by the Havard Medical School, there is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses.
For elderly people, the micronutrient deficiencies is also common as older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets.
There are some excerpts from doctors and specialists on health supplements to boost your immune system against coronavirus.
“There’s a whole host of herbs from tons of countries, including Chinese medicine, that works really well and boosts your body’s ability to fight viruses,”
– Dr. Samantha Randahl of Keystone Natural Family Medicine.
“One of the most important vitamins that boosts the immune system is Vitamin C. Then we have Vitamin B6, which is vital in supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system, and thirdly, Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that aids the body to fight off infections.”
– Dr Ganabaskaran, President of Malaysian Medical Association.
Source article here
“Fruits and vegetables of various colours are important for the body to replenish and strengthen one’s immunity. Fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C, E and antioxidants that can enhance the immune system to fight against infections and pathogens.”
– Nutritionist Dr Sareena Hanim Hamzah
Source article here
Superfoods & Herbs To Strengthen Your Immune System
Whilst off-the-shelf multivitamins and supplements are good addition to your diet plan, you may also consider “superfoods” or natural herbs to give that added boost to the immune system.
We shortlisted top natural superfoods and herbs that have a long history of anti-inflammatory properties and other bio-active compounds to boost your immune system.
Ask any nutritionists and they will highly recommend broccoli. It is superpacked with vitamin A, C, and E, as well as many antioxidants and fiber. And you can find it easily in any supermarkets and in western dishes too. Go and grab some now!
Garlic is found in most dishes around the world and blends well with any dishes you can think off. Garlic contains immune-boosting properties such as allicin and the secret to retain its health benefits is by not to overcook it! Garlic is used as herbal remedies in some parts of the world to treat minor illnesses.
In most parts of Asia, ginger is not just used in dishes but it is an ingredient many turn to after falling sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory-related illnesses.
4. Tongkat Ali (Malaysian Ginseng)
Tongkat Ali is a powerful herbal root (from a plant known as Eurycoma Longifolia) that is increasingly popular and widely researched by scientists around the globe.
Originating from Malaysia, this herbal root contains anti-inflammatory properties. Research by Tokyo Medical University and Life Science of Japan on 84 human test subjects showed positive improvement in cells related to our immune system. More potential science-backed health benefits of Tongkat Ali here.
5. Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng)
This herbal root is not an ingredient found in dishes, but if you have not heard of ginseng, you may have missed out one of the potent herbs that is used for centuries to improve general health and treat illnesses.
It contains anti-inflammatory properties and touted to boost immune system amongst elderly people. Both Panax Ginseng and Tongkat Ali are equally potent to protect your immune system. You can find comparison between these two herbs here.
Prevention is better than cure.
That is the age-old wisdom that never goes out of fashion. In light of the coronavirus, prevention brings a new meaning to all of us. Beyond face masks, we need to face the harsh reality that all of us today are ill-equipped to fight coronavirus.
Just look around you. How many of us today are still puffing away in that corridor or struggling to manage our weight or keep up with our own healthy diets?
In retrospect, smoking has caused 480,000 deaths in the United States alone and that number is significantly higher than deaths caused by coronavirus.
If we love ourselves, we should address the fundamentals right from the beginning with clear objective to build a stronger immune system. To fight coronavirus or to achieve longevity, our bodies deserve the right treatment – from diet, supplements and exercises.
Prevention means relentless effort. And everything starts from within.
It begins with you.
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