10 Tips to Boost Your Immunity During COVID-19

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Karon Warren on August 31, 2020
  • Portrait of happy daughter embracing senior woman
    Your immune system is your body’s defense system.
    Your body is a complex system with different departments that serve various functions to keep you going. Your immune system is your body’s defense system, designed to ward off what it sees as outside invaders. A healthy immune system consists of two components: the innate system you are born with and the adaptive immune system that develops when exposed to those “outside invaders.” Both work together to keep you healthy. In fact, your immune system is your most powerful weapon against infections. Learn what makes a healthy immune system function and how to boost your immunity during COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and beyond.
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    1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
    Not surprisingly, engaging in a healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy immune system. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. It also means not smoking and limiting the intake of alcohol. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a natural way to keep your immune system operating at full capacity as it was designed to do. As with other complex operating systems, when we follow the instructions for taking care of our bodies, it is more likely to respond by performing well.
  • fruits-and-vegetables
    2. Eat more immune-building food.
    A healthy diet is good for strong immune function, but there are some specific foods that may boost immunity even more. For instance, vitamin C has long been known to boost immunity, so including such foods as oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi and even broccoli can lead to improved immunity. Eating one-half of a raw garlic clove each day also has been shown to boost immunity. In addition, foods such as berries, carrots and spinach that are rich in antioxidants can enhance immunity. Foods with prebiotics that contain fiber are another good option. Think asparagus, green bananas, and Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Assortment of essential oils with tea tree oil in focus
    3. Try natural immunity aids such as essential oils.
    Essential oils continue to build a strong reputation for their health benefits, among which is improved immunity. Specifically, eucalyptus and tea tree oils have been called out for their antiviral properties to help ward off infections. To receive the benefits of these oils, add to an oil diffuser to inhale them or add to a warm bath or shower. You also could add these oils to your own homemade hand sanitizer, and absorb them through the skin.
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    4. Improved sleep and meditation can boost immunity.
    Sleep goes a long way in restoring and recharging your body, and that includes your immune system. Getting a good night’s sleep of 7 to 8 hours can help strengthen your immune system so it can fight off infection. Periods of meditation also can offer the body a chance to refresh and recharge, leading to reduced stress and anxiety that results in better sleep and improved immunity. You don’t have to spend a lot of time in meditation to experience benefits; even just five minutes of quiet can be helpful.
  • happy-family-on-couch
    5. A positive attitude leads to better immunity.
    In a world of uncertainty, how we respond to current events and day-to-day interaction can impact our immune systems. Just as a positive mindset and attitude lead to better overall health and well-being, it also can lead to improved immune health. The less stress we inflict on our bodies—mental and emotional as well as physical—the better our immune system will function. Adhering to the old adages of “Think happy thoughts” or “Turn that frown upside down” actually can have positive effects on your immune system.
  • happy-couple-walking-on-path-outside
    6. Go outside to boost your immunity.
    Fresh air and sunshine are a powerful combination for maintaining a healthy immune system. Taking a walk each day not only offers a chance to get in some exercise, but it also gives us a chance to enjoy a change of scenery. Communing with nature helps promote peace within and settles our souls. In addition, the vitamin D you receive from sunshine has long been heralded for its ability to strengthen immune system function. If you are unable to get outside, taking a vitamin D supplement is a good alternative.
  • Close-up of handwashing
    7. Maintain good hygiene habits for increased immunity.
    Don’t forget to follow the No. 1 recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent infection: Wash your hands thoroughly and often. According to the CDC, we should wash our hands before eating, before and during cooking, after using the bathroom, after we blow our nose, after coughing or sneezing, and before or after caring for someone who is ill. For all hand washing, lather hands with soap and scrub the hands and between fingers for a minimum of 20 seconds before rinsing.

    Even though clean hands don’t have a direct effect on the immune system, reducing the number of times you get sick improves your well-being.
  • senior man drinking from glass of water
    8. Drinking more water is especially helpful for seniors.
    Staying hydrated remains important at any age for optimal body and immune system function. However, as you get older, you may lose some of your sense of thirst. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of how much water you drink to ensure you get enough each day. It might be hard to remember exactly how much water you drink each day so try drinking a glass of water when you first get up, before and after each meal, and before you go to bed. Keeping a water bottle with you also can remind you to sip on it throughout the day (and fill it back up!).
  • sisters video conferencing with grandparents
    9. Staying connected to others can boost immunity.
    For senior adults, it may be difficult to spend time with family and friends. You may choose to stay at home to avoid possible exposure to the coronavirus, or you might not be in a position to drive yourself to see others. This isolation can increase loneliness or depression, which could negatively impact your immune function. Find ways to stay connected with others. Pick up the phone and call a friend, text a relative, or participate in a Zoom community class.
  • flu shots sign in pharmacy
    10. Older adults should get their flu shots to improve immunity.
    Even in the time of COVID-19, seasonal flu continues to be a serious threat to adults older than 65. Plus, the immune system wanes with age. Getting a high-dose flu vaccine can go a long way in keeping you from contracting influenza. And, by avoiding catching the flu, you can keep your immune system healthy and strong. If you get the flu, even if you don’t experience severe symptoms, it can weaken your immune system, increasing your risk of incurring other illnesses, including COVID-19.

    Most people 6 months and older can receive the flu shot and reap its benefits.
10 Tips to Boost Your Immunity During COVID-19
  1. The Immune System. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/the-immune-system
  2. How to Boost Your Immune System. Harvard Health Publishing/Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
  3. Strengthen Your Immune System With Four Simple Strategies. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/strengthen-your-immune-system-with-simple-strategies/
  4. 5 Super Simple Tips for Sustaining Strong Immune Systems. Walker Methodist. https://blog.walkermethodist.org/blog/5-super-simple-tips-for-sustaining-strong-immune-systems
  5. 10 Immune System Boosters for Seniors. A Place for Mom. https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/immune-system-boosters

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Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 28
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.