In this time of the COVID-19 virus fear and panic gripping our society, I am regularly being asked ” what steps can I take to strengthen my immune system?”
We do know that how sick we get from COVID-19 and the Flu (influenza virus) is related to how our body’s immune system responds to the virus.
Those who get sick are unable to mount a strong and quick response to the virus which causes inflammation of the lung alveoli. This causes a problem called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The ARDS is a problem where there is a lack of oxygen moving from the lung into the bloodstream.
Patients with ARDS may need to be supported with a ventilator (machine that helps you breathe) and oxygen until the inflammation calms down and the lung starts to function normally again.
We also know that those over 60 or those with other chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of getting sicker if they get the COVID-19 infection.
What can you do to boost your immunity in case you get COVID-19?
Decrease stress and get enough good quality sleep. There is good evidence that stress depresses the ability of your immune system to fight off infections. A poor night of sleep (less than 6 hours length or less deep sleep) will have the same effect on your body. Vigorous Exercise is important but not overdoing it so that your body is not working overtime on recovering and is temporarily depressed.
Many people take IV treatments of vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex and minerals such as selenium and zinc to ensure that your immune system has what it needs to function well. We don’t have good evidence of the impact of this supplementation by IV but it is not harmful.
Interestingly, there are some novel peptides such as Thymosin Alpha 1 (TA1) and Thymosin Beta 4 (TB4) that help stimulate and balance the immune system (shifting ratio from TH2 to TH1). TA1 has shown some positive results in patients to help mount an antibody response to influenza in this study. It could possibly be helpful in a COVID-19 infection.