By Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff, M.D.
It’s summer time and people who have been quarantined or limiting contact with others are anxious to get out. Many businesses, including restaurants and gyms, have re-opened.
Yet there is still no vaccine for COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, and there is little in the way of an effective treatment. So what can you do to protect yourself against one of the greatest infectious disease threats in more than a generation?
Beyond the safety measures you have undoubtedly heard about – wear a mask or cloth covering in public, avoid large crowds, wash your hands frequently and cover your cough or sneeze – one important thing you can do is to keep up a healthy immune system.
One of the reasons older adults are more susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19 is that they are more likely to contract the infectious disease. As we age, our immune systems tend to weaken. Practicing healthy habits can keep you healthy so, if you do get COVID-19, your body will be in a better position to fight.
Here are some things to consider to keep your immune system strong:
• Get rest: Sleep health is often overlooked. A sleep-deprived immune system is going to have more trouble fighting off infection than a well-rested one. Stick to a routine at bedtime, and try to stay away from the TV, phone or tablet at least 30 minutes before you hit the hay.
• Eat healthy: If your diet is lacking in important nutrients and vitamins, such as Vitamin B which supports a healthy central nervous system, you are putting yourself at higher risk for becoming fatigued. Taking a multivitamin may help, but the real key is to have a healthy, balanced diet.
• Manage your stress: It’s well documented that bodies under stress are more likely to get sick. Make time to meditate, practice yoga or breathing exercises, or just go for a walk. If you constantly tune in to the news, make a point of turning off the TV and staying off social media for a while. Note: Avoid using alcohol or other substances to manage your stress.
• Exercise: If you are not making time to exercise a few times a week, talk to your primary care doctor about developing a routine that is right for you. Exercise contributes to good health and a healthy immune system.
• Don’t smoke: Smoking harms the immune system and, considering how COVID-19 affects the lungs, keeping that organ healthy as possible is critical. Many health plans offer smoking cessation programs.
Another thing to consider is to have a routine medical checkup. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half the of adults (48 percent) say they or a family member skipped or delayed getting health care services due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place orders.
Your family doctor can help you determine if you have a vitamin or iron deficiency, and can advise you on ways to improve your diet or prescribe supplements to help you keep your immune system strong.
Unfortunately, this health crisis is far from over. Please, stay safe and stay healthy.
Dr. Annette “Dr. Z” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical treatments to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed on the WTA circuit, Dr. Zaharoff has been utilizing regenerative injection treatments including Stem Cell Therapy, PRP Injection Therapy and Prolotherapy for more than a decade. Learn more at www.drzmd.com, and follow her on Facebook.com/DrZaharoff.