By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 14 July 2020
Immunity is perhaps one of the most discussed topics during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main reason for this is because we haven’t yet discovered how to prevent the disease and there is no vaccine or treatment yet to fight the novel coronavirus. Additionally, recent studies have suggested that many people who have been infected with the Coronavirus did not show any symptoms of the disease. All of this may be an indication that our immune system holds the key to fight the virus, if we are infected.
In this article, we will understand what immunity is and how it could be enhanced naturally to fight any infection, including the Coronavirus.
The ability of our body to defend against disease-causing microorganisms is known as immunity and the organs/cells that help in this process comprise the immune system. There are two types of immunity – innate and adaptive.
Innate immunity is our body’s first line of defence against germs and offers protection during the initial critical hours of being exposed to a pathogen. Physical barriers like skin, eyelashes, body hair, saliva, tears, sweat, bile, etc. are some of the components of the innate immune response.
Adaptive or acquired immunity, on the other hand, is activated when the innate immunity is not enough to fight the pathogen. This type of immunity develops as we are exposed to diseases or when we get vaccinated. Adaptive immunity is memory-based which means that when the same pathogen attacks again, it will remember it and kill it with the help of antibodies.
Based on a body’s ability to produce antibodies, adaptive immunity can be either active or passive. Active immunity is when your body produces antibodies to fight the infection while passive immunity is when you are given antibodies extracted from the blood of others who recovered from the infection.
For its normal functioning, there should be harmony and balance between the various components of the immune system. To make that happen, you can make certain lifestyle changes that will enhance your immunity and your general wellbeing. We’ve outlined few of these lifestyle changes for you below:
We rely on cellular metabolism to live and in the process, free radicals are generated. Free radicals are harmful as it causes damage to membranes, DNA, enzymes, while also leading to decreased immune response. Antioxidants can stabilise these free radicals and enhance the activity of the immune system. Hence, researchers recommend consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as they are good sources of antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants that may help in strengthening immunity are vitamin C, E, carotenoids, and selenium.
Recently, many clinical trials have been conducted to study the effect of antioxidant supplements on immune responses. Results from these trials suggest that vitamins C, E, A, and beta-carotene supplements can enhance certain immune responses.
As stated earlier, consuming a balanced diet can help you meet the required antioxidant requirements to maintain a healthy immune system. If you are not sure about which foods contain higher antioxidants, the ORAC value is a good indicator and guideline to follow.
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a measure of the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of foods and is determined through a lab test. Ingestion of 3,000 to 4,000 ORAC units daily have been recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Some of the foods with the highest ORAC values (in µmol TE/100 g) are:
Cinnamon (ground) – 1,43,264
Cloves (ground) – 1,11,490
Turmeric (ground) – 44,776
Peppermint (fresh) – 13,970
Basil (dried) – 56,685
Chilli powder – 21,827
Cumin seed – 47,600
Curry powder – 24,981
Mustard seed – 28,759
Black pepper – 10,205
Raw plums – 6,083
Coriander leaves – 5,141
While this is not a comprehensive list, it is evident that spices such as cinnamon, cloves, basil, etc., in dried and ground form, have the highest ORAC values and are healthy foods to consume regularly.
Our immune system plays a key role in warding off any infection. And during this time of COVID-19, the significance of immunity has increased manifold, since a vaccine or treatment is yet to be discovered. Hence, we should exercise regularly, consume foods rich in antioxidants, get adequate sleep etc., to strengthen the immune system. It is important to note that a good immune system is not necessarily going to keep us from getting infected with the virus, although it can play an important role in reducing the severity and lowering the risk of complications. Also, remember to practice social distancing, wash hands frequently, and wear masks to protect yourself against the Coronavirus.
If you need some recommendations for Immunity Boosters, here are our top picks:
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More than 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates worldwide are in development. So far, 156 economies have signed up for COVAX, a WHO initiative, to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
Current data suggests that people with pre-existing respiratory illnesses may have severe complications if they get infected with Coronavirus.
Due to inflammation and infection in the lungs, some people suffering from severe COVID-19 infection develop hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood) and require medical oxygen to restore the oxygen saturation of the body.
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