Covid-19: 7 ways to stay safe from the virus


Dubai - Get Vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries and cranberries.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 22 May 2021, 8:00 PM

Keeping our immune system healthy is the key to preventing infection from Covid-19 and other diseases. Healthy lifestyle choices, nutritious food and enough sleep and exercise are the most important ways to boost your immunity.

Here are six ways you can boost your immunity and stay safe from Covid-19

1-Vitamin D, C and Zinc

Doctors in the UAE advise people to consume food rich in minerals and vitamins as they have antioxidant, immunomodulatory and antimicrobial roles which are helpful for the immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Dr Faisal Hamza Dalvi, Specialist, Internal Medicine, Burjeel Day Surgery Centre Abu Dhabi said: “Vitamin D, C and Zinc are beneficial in enhancing ones immunity. Studies have shown that Vitamin C can reduce lung inflammation, and Zinc can slow viral replication in Covid 19. Recent research has also shown that Vitamin D levels were lower in patients with Covid-19. Adequate levels of Vitamin C and D are crucial to reduce the Covid-9 symptom burden and lessen the duration of respiratory infection.”

Dr Muhammed Shafeeq, pulmonologist (specialist), Aster Hospital, Qusais said: “Deficiency or insufficiency of these key nutrients, can lead to impairment of mucosal epithelial cells, possibly making people more susceptible to pathogen entry, such as SARS-CoV-2.”

Get Vitamin D from 5–30 minutes of sun exposure, particularly between 10am to 4pm, at least twice a week. Vitamin D is also found in fish, eggs and dairy products.

Get Vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries and cranberries.

2-Quit Smoking

Quit smoking right away as smokers are at higher risk of developing severe Covid-19 complication. Smokers are more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 as the act of smoking involves contact of fingers with the lips, which increases the possibility of transmission of viruses from hand to mouth.

Smoking shisha or hookah also involves sharing of mouthpieces and hoses which could also facilitate transmission of the virus.

Switch to nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine gum, patches, lozenge, nasal spray or inhalers to kick the habit.

Quit smoking in just 5 simple steps (Courtesy: Dr Shafeeq)

1. Have a plan. Once you’ve made up your mind, set the date and develop a plan.

2. Don’t go it alone. It will be easier to quit if you have support from family and friends.

3. Stay busy.

4. Avoid smoking triggers.

5. Reward your accomplishments.

3-Diet to boost immunity

Diet is the most important aspect when it comes to boosting your immunity. Doctors advise to consume fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes as they are rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Whole plant foods contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, all of which lower your chances to get ill.

Healthy fats found in olive oil and salmon help in boosting your immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation.

4-Exercise and workouts

Dr Vipin Mishra, consultant endocrinologist, Zulekha Hospital said: “Regular exercise improves the health of every organ in the body. It also improves one’s quality of sleep and improves one’s immunity. In people who exercise regularly, even if they contract Covid-19, the infection is likely to be mild and possibly asymptomatic. Since regular exercise improves immunity; by logic it should enable the immune system to generate more antibodies.”

Dr Asma Binte Shahid, cardiologist (GP) at Kings college London Hospital said: “Regular exercises such as swimming, running or a normal cardio can help fight against Covid-19 in a way that the chances of hospitalization and death are lowered.”

5-Lose weight

Being overweight is associated with poor immune functions. People who are overweight are more prone to develop metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and in such cases immunity is compromised to an extent.

“People having diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease or cancer have severely compromised immune system. It is mostly such immune-compromised Covid 19 patients who need ICU and ventilator support; and they also have much higher mortality.” Dr Vipin said.

“Excess body weight creates excess fatty cells which create inflammatory proteins. Having a higher level of these can desensitize the immune system.” said Dr Asma. “Excess weight leads to impaired immunity, causes inflammation and increases chances for blood clot — all of which can worsen Covid-19.” She added.

6-Get good sleep

Sleep is when various organs of the body undergo a repair process. Lack of proper sleep leads to weakened immunity, which drains mental and physical health. It can also cause several heart complications and also lead to an increase in weight.

“Chronic sleeplessness also weakens the immune system and makes the person vulnerable to Covid-19. Chronic sleeplessness is an important immune-compromised state. Just like in any other immune-compromised situation, Covid-19 infection in such people may be more severe and even fatal,” Dr Vipin said. “Sleeplessness generally weakens the metabolism and also weakens different organs and systems.”

7-Lesser the stress, higher the immunity

Stress weakens the immune system. When we are stressed the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, making us susceptible to infections.

Stress and anxiety are as bad as chronic sleeplessness. “They tend to increase the secretion of cortico-steroids and adrenalin in the body, push the metabolism into the catabolic phase and weaken all the organs and systems, including the immune system.” Dr Faisal said.

To curb stress doctors advise regular exercise, a balanced diet, relaxation techniques, avoiding long working hours and most importantly, setting realistic goals and expectations, to live a stress-free life. “Any exercise is good. Pick up something you like - be it jogging, swimming, dancing, bicycling, yoga. Anything which can help you be happy,” Dr Shafeeq added.

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