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Why Does The Mainstream Media Tend To Ignore Immune Health?

Why does mainstream media tend to ignore the importance of immune health, especially during this pandemic, when medical experts are focused on understanding COVID-19?  The media is loaded with ideas about how to prevent getting this novel virus, i.e. social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, etc., yet many experts warn the virus will continue to infect the population until the creation of a vaccine.  People are left questioning if there are ways to best prepare themselves, in case they do get sick. 
 
Journalist, Monica Buchanan Pitrelli, discusses how variable the virus seems- fatal to some, yet others have no symptoms at all.  In regards to this, she states, “As the medical community seeks possible explanations for that variability--viral load (how much of the virus you have in your body) and genetic susceptibility are both being studied--we are left to wonder what amount of influence, if any, we have over how our bodies will react to being infected.”  While age, gender, and underlying health issues have been shown to affect health outcomes, there are many simple things that you can do to support your immune health.
 
Current research points to immune system overdrive (a process known as cytokine storm) as the cause of sudden decline in health from coronavirus.  This causes the treatment to focus on both controlling one’s immune system along with the infection.  Perhaps more focus needs to be placed on preventively boosting our immune health.
 
When it comes to supporting immune health, a handful of factors come to mind: nutrition, exercise, mindfulness (stress-reduction), and sleep.  According to sleep expert Dr. Steven Tucker, sleep is of utmost importance when it comes to immune health.  In fact, cytokines can rise because of a single night’s poor sleep.  Getting more sleep, and more quality sleep (think 8 hours a night for the average person) improves ones’ resilience, lowers stress, and, in turn, improves your immunity.  Practicing good sleep hygiene involves creating a routine, in which you go to bed and wake up around the same times each day.  It is important to limit blue light before bed (turn off screens at least an hour before bed), and to get adequate exercise earlier in the day (ideally in the morning).  It is best to avoid alcohol and to limit caffeine to morning time. 
 
Along with sleep, a whole foods diet supports immune health.  Essential nutrients obtained from vegetables and fruits are needed for the immune system to perform optimally.  Some of these key nutrients include: Vitamin C, beta carotene, and B vitamins.  Many fruits and vegetables also contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that support healthy gut microbiota.  Summertime is the perfect time to indulge in fresh berries, which are natural immune boosters.   While different berries have different nutritional content, it is suggested to consume a mix of berries, ideally daily.  Research shows that the vitamins and antioxidants in berries support both immune and digestive health.  80% of immune cells are found in the gut, so supporting a healthy microbiome is key.  Eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and organic yogurt (unsweetened), also support your gut with beneficial bacteria.  Research shows that healthy microbiota support the development of immune cells.  Eating healthy fats, such as omega-3’s (fish), nuts, avocado, olive oil, is also an important component of a whole foods diet, as they help to regulate your body’s inflammatory response. 
 
It is important to continue to limit your exposure to sickness by taking precautionary measures.  Also, there are actions you can take to support your immune health.  While research on COVID-19 is novel, there is plenty of research regarding how to boost your immune system.  While we wait for the experts to figure out more about this new virus, we can do our best to lead healthy lives by taking actions to support our immunity and well-being. 

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