7 Tips to Help You Stay Strong Against COVID 19
By Dawn Gadon, APN, C, Nurse Practitioner—Virtua Primary Care - Hammonton
With COVID-19 still in the community, it's important to do all you can to protect yourself and those you love. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, or worse.
In addition to the protection you get from the vaccine, these easy-to-follow tips can help you keep your immune system in top, illness-fighting shape.
Get a flu shot every year
Having the flu can make you more susceptible to other infectious diseases. And, lung damage from the flu—followed by lung damage from COVID-19—is a dangerous combination. So, make sure you get your flu shot every year.
Eat a healthier diet
Eating more fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, and now more than ever, it could be lifesaving.
A healthy diet full of whole, unprocessed foods helps you better manage diabetes and heart disease, both of which are risk factors for more serious symptoms with COVID-19.
Some research has shown that vitamins C and D and zinc may have some protective effects by bolstering immunity. Natural sources are best, so get your vitamin C in foods like citrus fruits and raw or lightly cooked vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Vitamin D is found in oily fish like salmon and herring, as well as in lean meat. Zinc is available in nuts, whole grains, legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas, oysters, and poultry/lean meat.
If you’re thinking of supplements, 1000 milligrams (mg) a day of vitamins C and D and 30 mg zinc may help support a healthy immune system—just be sure not to overload on supplements.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated has many benefits, including:
- Helps rid your body of toxins and illness-causing bacteria
- Helps regulate your digestion and body temperature
- Improves flow of vital oxygen to your organs
- Improves concentration and focus
Drinking water and staying hydrated even helps with sleep, another immunity booster. Just get most of your ounces in before 5 p.m. to prevent nighttime bathroom visits.
Whatever it takes, aim for 64 ounces of water daily, and spike it with lemon or lime to improve the flavor.
Sitting too much is bad for your health and exercise is good for every part of you. It doesn’t have to be complicated—start walking and walk a little further each day. If you don’t have someone to walk with, use your time walking to meditate, and get a double dose of healthfulness. You don’t need a mask to walk outdoors in an uncrowded area, but if you do run into a friend, wave from a safe distance—at least 6 feet away.
Walking won’t stamp out COVID-19, but it can help keep you stronger, fitter, and healthier overall. That includes your mental health. Walking can improve your mood and help relieve stress, which crushes your immune system. Any movement is important, so whatever you choose, just move.
You’ve probably seen the short-term effects of stress through a rise in blood pressure or an occasional bout of stomach upset. Over time, ongoing stress produces hormones in our bodies that weaken the immune system and defenses against illness. Interrupting chronic stress can help reduce its negative effects. Stress-busters like exercise, meditation, or prayer—even breaks from social media—really can make a difference.
If you’re plagued by worries or anxiety, talk to your primary care physician for more help and advice.
Clean, clean, clean
You already know the importance of handwashing. You should be doing it after every grocery shopping trip, mailbox pick-up, bathroom visit, and house cleaning.
And, keeping your house clean is important, too. You can better protect yourself by cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces daily: doorknobs, refrigerator handles, faucets, toilet handles, and remote controls.
Don’t tire of social distancing and mask wearing
We know it’s hard but stay strong and be smart. Practice social distancing, even with family. Limit groups indoors to under 10 people, and avoid visiting altogether if someone has been exposed to COVID-19, or traveled to an area where cases are spiking.
Be diligent about wearing a mask around anyone who doesn’t live in your home, including extended family. They may go to work or school, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure.
If you must have work done in your home, insist that service providers wear masks—and you should wear one while they’re inside the house, as well.
Visit stores at “off-hours” and make a thorough list so you can limit trips.
Is it time for a checkup?
Schedule an appointment online now or call 888-847-8823 to find a Virtua primary care provider near you.
Updated September 8, 2021