Sarah Neumann, Sun City Dermatology physician assistant and dietician
By Sarah Neumann
The self-care of health and well-being is paramount during the pandemic.
With the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe, everyone is searching for ways to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. The good news is there are basic things people can begin today to potentially improve their immune function and support a healthy body and mind.
Water is a vital part of all bodily functions and it allows the body to detoxify. People should drink at least 8-10 glasses per day, more if they take certain medications or if they consume caffeine drinks. Drinking enough water improves skin, muscle and joint heath and helps the body’s cells absorb nutrients and fight infections.
People could feel stressed and many of their routines have gone by the wayside, but they should try not to let sleep be negatively affected as it’s imperative for general health and well-being. At least 6-8 hours nightly allows the body to restore itself.
A few tips to get a good night’s rest include avoid blue light in the bedroom. This includes TV, computer or phone. Simply put it down or turn it off. The flickering blue light from devices tricks brain into thinking it’s daylight and can disrupt sleep patterns.
If devices are shut down and sleep is still evasive, people can try a quick meditation before bed to allow the brain to find quiet and let rapid eye movement rest be a greater percentage of a night’s sleep. REM sleep is the most restful and restorative form of sleep. Learn more about meditation online or, if a device must be used at bedtime, new apps, like Headspace, can provide a quick and soothing guided meditation.
Vitamin supplements play a central role in helping protect the immune system from infection and fight disease. Vitamins A, C, E and B6 all support healthy, normal immune responses to pathogens like viruses, as do minerals like folic acid, zinc, selenium, iron and copper. Start with the basics, like a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, to take daily.
During these unprecedented times, it is also suggested to add extra Vitamin D to the daily regimen. Even in sunny Arizona, many are not getting enough of this important nutrient derived from sunlight. This can be especially true for anyone quarantined or simply staying inside to avoid the summer heat.
Vitamin D is the key to maintaining strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium, but it’s also essential in that it can boost the immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. People should take Vitamin D after food, as its fat soluble, and aim for at least 2,000 milligrams per day or more based on a doctor’s advice.
There has also been a great deal of talk about zinc lately. Studies show it plays a vital role in immune function and has anti-virus properties. It is suggested 50 milligrams twice daily after food, as it may cause a fair amount of nausea otherwise.
Vitamin C supplements also boost immune function and, more importantly, reduce the length of symptoms of any virus. Try taking at least 500 milligrams daily.
For people who have been indulging in sweets and snacks more than usual, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and fiber will also increase their sense of wellness. Diet is one of the easiest and best ways to focus on the overall health.
While it’s important to note that none of these suggestions can prevent COVID-19, taking proactive steps during these difficult times will only help. It’s important to remember to consult a health care provider before beginning any new supplement or health care regimen.
Lastly. wash hands, practice social distancing and make smart decisions and, most of all, use common sense.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Neumann is a physician assistant and dietician, and found of Sun City Dermatology, 13843 W. Meeker Blvd., Suite 101, Sun City West; call 623-377-7546 or visit suncitydermaz.com.