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Keeping your immune system well-balanced

Moderate exercise boosts the immune system. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Moderate exercise boosts the immune system. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

After several weeks of closure due to COVID-19, businesses are slowly starting to open back up bringing people out of their homes and in contact with one another. Although social distancing measures are put in place, the concern over contracting the virus still remains. An expert at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) offers tips on ways to balance out the immune system to help minimize the risk of any illness during this worrying time.

“It is so important for people to understand that there is not one guaranteed way to boost the immune system,” said Kanika Monga, MD, rheumatology fellow with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and UT Physicians. “There are a multitude of factors that play into having a well-maintained immune system.”

Consuming trendy foods or taking pills will not offer a shortcut to attaining a healthy immune system. In fact, Monga says the idea of boosting the immune system using these tactics has no scientific value. “When thinking of ways to stay healthy, the goal should not be to take supplements to boost the immune system, but it should be to have an overall balanced immune system that works in harmony with your body,” she said.

The best way to do this is to prevent environmental assault factors. This includes:

  • Steering clear of smoking
  • Eating well-balanced meals
    • Eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily
    • Staying away from fried foods
    • Making sure meat is properly cooked before consuming
  • Getting a good amount of sleep, seven to nine hours a night
  • Monitoring stressors
    • Practicing meditating
    • Doing breathing exercises
    • Starting a journal
  • Staying active and engaging in moderate exercise such as
    • Walking
    • Doing exercises that support muscle strength
    • Gardening

Huge risk factors in getting severely ill, even with COVID-19, is having comorbidities like uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Implementing daily habits like exercise and healthy diet are ways to ensure those comorbidities are well-controlled to help promote a well-balanced immune system.

As we re-enter society, anyone who begins to feel minor symptoms that mimic those of COVID-19 might begin to panic. Monga says making time to practice these good habits can help keep the mind and body in balance and lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Research has yet to determine how a stronger immune system can prevent someone from getting COVID-19; however, previous studies show that having a balanced diet, exercising, sleeping well, and managing stress can all help in preventing illness.

“We don’t know how all of this will impact the fight against COVID-19. There is still so much to learn about this virus, but what we do know is that having a balanced immune system will help individuals live a healthy life and it can help strengthen our defense against the virus,” she said.

To make an appointment with the UT Physicians Center for Autoimmunity, call 713-486-3100.

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