SCI & Your Immune System: Eating Healthy During COVID-19
With COVID-19 upon us, as you’ve likely heard, anyone with compromised health needs to be in as good of shape as possible to keep themselves protected. For people with spinal cord injuries, who are high-risk individuals, having a super powerful immune system is one of your best weapons to staying healthy. Having a good immune system, however, requires a lot of components to occur. Here is a list of some of the most important things you can do to boost your immune system if you paralysis.
Get Your Zzzz's
Getting enough sleep is a huge immune system booster. When you sleep, your body goes into high healing mode, and it reboots your mind, body, and immune system. When you don’t get enough sleep, the stress hormones in your body increase, which is bad for the body and weakens the immune system. It is recommended that adults get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep to give the body the time it needs to heal while you sleep.
Eat Colorful Foods
A colorful diet is the marker of a good diet. Each color represents the different vitamins in the fruit or vegetable, and they're all important to the body in different ways. There's not one single fruit or vegetable that will boost your immune system wholly. The key is to vary your diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Also, high amounts of Vitamin C isn’t the only key to staying healthy. Make sure you get enough Vitamin D either from a supplement or from oily fish, spinach or eggs, which can help boost the immune system. Vitamin C does help, but you can get the same boost your immune system from eating a single sweet potato that orange juice. You can also get great amounts of Vitamin C in raw broccoli, cauliflower, and kiwis.
Also, try eating foods that are high in the mineral zinc. Zinc can help kill bacteria and viruses in the body. You can find zinc in lean meats, pumpkin, fortified cereals, and various dairy items. Also, make sure to get in probiotics, which are incredibly helpful to the immune system as well. Yogurt and fermented foods will fit the bill.
However you’re able, try to get your exercise in. Exercise does a lot more for your body than burn calories. It can also improve your immune and metabolic systems by increasing the production of antibodies. When you work out, this makes T-cells circulate throughout your body at a higher level. For many people who use spinal cord injury, they have been doing various chair aerobic workouts since they do not have access to their regular gym. Lastly, regular exercise also helps lower stress hormones, which can help boost your immune system.
Try to get outside. Do not be afraid of fresh air, as it will boost your immune system. Try spending at least 30 minutes outside each day if possible. Just going for a roll around the block is all you need or just a nice sit on a patio or a front porch. Studies have shown that people who get outside for at least 2 hours per week feel better overall.
Maintain Good Hygiene
And lastly, don't forget to keep a strict handwashing routine as well,0 a strict home cleaning routine, and wear a mask. It is critical that you maintain good hygiene for your own body and your home during the current pandemic.
The times are scary right now, but there’s a lot we can still control. People with spinal cord injuries may be a high-risk category for COVID-19, but with the proper diet and by taking care of yourself, you can make a huge difference in the state of your immune system and long-term health.
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