BALTIMORE (WMAR) — There’s been a lot of talk about boosters and when they will be authorized but there are some things you can do now that can help prevent severe disease.
These methods are not alternatives to vaccines. They are simple lifestyle changes: daily physical activity, a whole food diet, prioritizing sleep and stress management, proven to help your body fight COVID-19.
“We’ve consistently seen that moderate and severe symptoms don’t occur as much among people who have these lifestyle practices or who don’t have the lifestyle related chronic diseases,” said Dr. Chris D’Adamo.
Dr. D’Adamo is the director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He said people who do not have chronic diseases fair better against COVID.
“There’s been a number of lifestyle related risk factors: things like obesity, overweight, diabetes, hypertension and so on that fortunately can be somewhat mitigated by our lifestyle,” said D’Adamo.
He said it’s more important now than ever to make these changes because they greatly impact immune system function.
“Given what we’ve seen with breakthrough cases and other factors, it’s important that we really do whatever we can, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but we do whatever we can to support our lifestyle,” said Dr. D’Adamo.
He said it starts with what we eat.
“People who have poorly managed blood sugar, for example, have lower antibody responses to the vaccine so this is something that matters for everyone,” said Dr. D’Adamo.
One nutritional tip: include some protein and fiber in every meal.
“We know that doing so can help manage blood sugar more effectively so you’re not going to get those spikes that have been associated with worse COVID outcomes,” said D’Adamo.
He recommends stopping screen time 20 minutes before bed to prioritize sleep and find a way to relieve stress.
“Something as simple as getting more laughter in your life has been shown to reduce blood pressure, has been shown to help the immune system function more effectively,” said Dr. D’Adamo.
Over the counter supplements vitamin C, D and zinc also help by stimulating the immune system, decreasing inflammation and blocking replication of the virus.
“Vitamin D controls the expression of hundreds of different genes, including genes that are involved in our immune system and inflammation. We know that overinflammatory response, hyperinflammatory response is one of the hallmarks of moderate to severe COVID. Vitamin C helps stimulate the immune system through over mechanisms and zinc very interestingly has been shown to block the replication of RNA viruses like COVID. That combination can be inexpensive, people have been taking these for many many years and it may provide some added protection along with other public health measures,” said Dr. D’Adamo.
Dr. D’Adamo says the Institute for Functional Medicine is a good online resource for more recommendations.