Healthy Tahoe: Immunity and wellness support for coronavirus |

Healthy Tahoe: Immunity and wellness support for coronavirus

Melinda Choy, LAc
Melinda Choy, LAc

With concerns of coronavirus COVID-19, and other viruses circulating our community, now is a good time to give your immune system some extra support. In addition to social distancing, self-isolating, and practicing good hand hygiene, personal lifestyle choices and nutrition can help protect your health.


There’s a reason why it’s called “worried sick.” Taking steps now to incorporate healthy routines that reduce stress, improve sleep, exercise and nourish your body can give you the support you need to fight diseases. Here’s a good way to start:

Stress reduction: Chronic stress can negatively alter immune system responses, making you more likely to get sick. Identify stress reduction strategies like mindfulness, meditating, or gratitude, and practice them regularly.

Sleep: Sleep has a big influence on immune function, so it is essential to get plenty of sleep. Set up a sleep routine and maintain consistent sleep hours—turn off screens; ensure the room is cool, quiet, and dark; and set a reminder to help yourself go to bed on time.

Exercise: Moderate, regular physical activity helps boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation, and decreasing stress hormones. Take the family for a walk and enjoy some fresh air together while schools are closed.

Nutritious foods/diet: Research indicates that brightly colored vegetables and fruits boost immunity better than most supplements. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables—aim for 10 servings per day. Include fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods.

Supplements, nutrients, and foods to support immune function

It’s best to seek advice from a licensed health professional if it is safe for you to take them with existing medications, allergies or other health concerns, and determine the appropriate dosage. There are several nutrients, plant-based botanicals, and supplements that can boost immune function and provide symptom relief during illness and may help to shorten the duration of illness. For preventing and treating viral upper respiratory infections, consider some of the following:

Vitamin C: Vitamin C may help to prevent infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses. Regularly administered vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of colds.

Vitamin D: Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Numerous studies have shown that it helps reduce the risk of colds and flu.

Vitamin A: For short-term use and particularly for those with moderate vitamin A deficiency, supplementation can be extremely helpful in supporting the body’s ability to fight infections, particularly with regard to respiratory infections.

Zinc: Zinc plays a significant role in boosting immunity. Often available as lozenges, zinc can help to reduce the frequency of infections as well as the duration and severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.

Selenium: Selenium, a key nutrient for immune function, is also an antioxidant that helps boost the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.

It may particularly help to protect against certain strains of flu virus. Selenium is easily obtained from foods, with the richest source being Brazil nuts.

Honey: Honey, preferably raw, has antioxidant properties, and has some antimicrobial effects.

It is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to hot tea.

Garlic: Garlic contains a variety of compounds that can influence immunity. Some studies have shown that both fresh garlic as well as aged garlic extract may reduce viral upper respiratory infection severity as well as function in the prevention of infection with viruses that can cause colds.

Probiotics: Probiotics contain “good bacteria” that not only support the health of the gut but also influence immune system functioning and regulation.

Studies have shown that probiotic use can decrease the number of respiratory infections, particularly in children.

Take care of yourself and your family with best practices in health and wellness concerning the coronavirus. Call Barton’s COVID-19 Health Line if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms: 530-600-1999.

Melinda Choy, LAc, oversees Integrated Medicine and Acupuncture Services with Barton Health, and is CEO of Elevate Wellness Center.

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