- Wash your hand frequently.
- Cover your cough.
- Don’t touch your face (eye, nose, mouth).
- Maintain social distancing
- Stay home.
Are they familiar? I need not ask I guess. These statements have trekked together and become familiar across the entire world at this very moment and appears to be sticking around for some time, unfortunately. What is more interesting is to have ever believed the last 3 of these statements especially would actually make it onto the list of most renowned declarations of the year if anyone had predicted them. Don’t touch your face. Really?
Indeed, as much as these directives are heeded to, they have proven to be not only effective but also our best and seemingly only weapon as we battle arguably the biggest threat that has befallen the world in the 21st century while we wait patiently for a potential medical remedy. If you will notice for a minute, what these external directive approaches seek to accomplish is simple, prevent its spread and contain it basically and not to face ‘’The RONA’’. Now let us be a little rational here, even irrational however it may seem to you, reports by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) as at April 16 shows that 11,356 deaths have been recorded in the United States alone. Out of this number, 1509, 2512, 3088 and 3251, represented persons from the age groups 55-64, 65-74, 75-84, and 85 years and above respectively. A data showing emphatically that our senior citizens are at the greatest susceptible groups.
I know we understand why this is the case and how we are not surprised about it for the major part. These are individuals who are believed to be at a stage in their lives termed immune senescence, which means they are nearing the weakening state of their immune system. What can be drawn from this? I say, we have on our plate a great potential in combatting this pandemic if we paid a little more attention to building a strong and resilient immune system and that is exactly what this article seeks to amplify.
To begin with, see the immune system as the body’s main defense mechanism, which means the stronger it is, the better it will act against preventing invasion of any disease causing agent, being it bacteria or virus and also potential destruction of these micro bodies upon entry into the human system. The reverse is equally as valid: a weaker immune system equals poor disease fighting abilities. It is important to understand however that any remedy for this particular pandemic will at best seek to enhance the immune system’s ability to resist and also fight this virus. So while we wait why not do our own fair share by practicing the following in addition to what is already being done;
- Eating well:
There is an overwhelming scientific evidence supporting the role of diet in improving and boosting our immune system. These foods are mostly filled with antioxidant, meaning they tend to neutralize the activities of Reactive Oxygen Species collectively referred to as Free Radicals, which when allowed to accumulate in the body drains the immune system of its maximum capacity. Such foods are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Folic acid Zinc, Selenium, so many more and are found mostly in fruits and vegetable (carrots, citrus, almond, papaya), green leafy types included (spinach,broccoli asparagus), milk and its product, fish, lean meat, legumes (beans and nuts). In short a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables should do it for our immune system.
- Physical activities or Exercise:
While a moderate routine like brisk walking, jogging, gardening, and other aerobic activities done for 30 minutes for selected 4 days or more within a week have correlated positively with improved immunity, a sedentary life and extreme exercises done for longer hours have also been identified to impair immune system in part by encouraging the production of these free radicals which have been said to have a damaging effect on immune response. Thus to get the immune boosting benefit from exercise it must be as possible.
- Stress management:
I must mention that so far as stress management is concerned quite a number of people have been up to task as all our social media platforms have been flooded with a variety of social media challenges all to create and keep a favorably lively atmosphere as we are held captive by quarantine and lockdown in our various abode. Again, sleep which is another important factor in managing stress at this point should be one of the cheapest commodities as there is enough time to have a good sleep and replenish the body’s balance. Nevertheless, the fear of the outbreak will most frequently grip our mind and start an unhealthy train of thought which in turn produces and adds on to the excess chemical constituents potentially rendering the immune system compromised.
- Other unhealthy practices that may aggravate the worsening effect of the immune system include, consumption of too much alcohol, smoking and any other activity that has a stress producing effect on the immune system.
Permit me therefore at this point to get these immune strengthening factors across to you. Please make a deliberate effort to practice these too as you wash your hands, cover your coughs, stay home, avoid touching face and maintain social distancing.
Mr. Rexford Obeng
Department of Nutrition and Food Science University of Ghana
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