Since Singapore already has cases of the Novel Coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, it’s a great idea to begin the smart habits of washing hands, wiping down common areas with alcohol, and not rubbing your eyes. But there is still a lot that you cannot control…
- You cannot completely control whether or not you meet a person with the infection.
- You cannot control the speed that researchers find a vaccine or cure.
- You cannot control the speed of research into the root cause of the virus.
- You cannot control if the virus mutates.
- You cannot control how effective government containment measures will be.
However, you can take control of your own level of health and your level of immune system strength. A healthy immune system also can “mutate” to adapt to different threats.
Here are some things that are well studied to improve the immune system especially against respiratory tract related problems.
Nothing in the world is 100% but instead of living in fear, take this opportunity to give yourself the best chance to fight any virus off and avoid complications.
Tip #1 – Achieve a good metabolism
A fast, healthy metabolism means that all the cells of your immune system have high energy to do their job, so they will work fast, and work well.
A few ways to do this are to eat diet higher in fruit, lean protein, and dairy products. And lower in unsaturated fats and hard to digest foods like uncooked veggies and grains.
Another metabolism and immunity booster is higher quality sleep – if you don’t get at least 6-7 hours a night of deep sleep, the immune system is weakened. (reference here) In fact, much of the immune system’s response to lack of sleep is studied on respiratory tract diseases of which the coronavirus is a type.
The best way to check metabolism for yourself is through a simple oral temperature test in the morning and evening. Ideally, it should be 36.5 degrees. At night before bed, it should be about 36.9 to 37 degrees. Any lower than this is a sign of lower metabolism. And you should focus on this problem by changing your food selection and getting enough sleep. No handphone games at midnight for the sake of your immune system.
Tip #2 – Nose Breathing
“Breathe through your nose” is probably something that our personal training clients get tired of hearing from the Genesis coaching team. But it’s so important for many things. And it even helps lower the risk of the respiratory tract and influenza type diseases like the novel coronavirus.
You should be always using nose breathing except for very strenuous exercise. But nose breathing has another major benefit when it comes to respiratory tract type illness. It increases nitric oxide (NO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). NO affects the virus’s ability to replicate by disrupting its ability to reproduce proteins at the genetic level. (reference here) Higher levels of CO2 have also shown the ability to reduce overall stress hormones which when too high lower immune system function. Most of us intuitively know that we get sick when under a lot of stress. (reference here)
Tip #3 – Vitamin D Levels
The next tip is to make sure that you have a high level of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been related to a higher risk of respiratory tract related diseases. (reference here) However, we cannot be totally sure if it is because of the vitamin D itself, or because of the sunlight exposure needed to produce vitamin D.
Either one of these factors could be giving that person an immune system benefit. But it seems quite conclusive that more sunlight and more vitamin D can help. In sunny Singapore, we really have less of an excuse to have low vitamin D levels. But because of most people in Singapore travel, work and live in an indoor environment, we still often see clients with low levels. The target for general health according to the VitaminDCouncil is somewhere in the 40-50 ng/ml range. From the lab tests that Genesis clients have gone through, we see that most people do not reach this level unless they make a focused effort to get enough sunlight.
At the very least, on weekends and at lunchtime I would wear short-sleeved clothes and spend 30-60 mins in the sun. This should get the average person about 15000IU of vitamin D. When done consistently you should be able to reach your required vitamin D levels for good immune system function.
If sunlight is really not possible, I would supplement 5000 IU per day of vitamin D3. And a combination of UV light for a few minutes per day, as well as incandescent light for a few hours per day can substitute some of the benefits of sunlight. I have a video on light therapy below.
As mentioned before it may be the metabolism-boosting effects of the orange/red wavelengths of sunlight that are responsible for the reduced infection risk and increased immunity. So no matter what, get outdoors and get those vitamin D levels up.
Tip #4 – Make Sure Vitamin A Is Available
Vitamin A helps you regenerate mucosal barriers like those in your nose and lungs that protect you from disease. Vitamin A also improves the function of immune system cells like neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells. (reference here) 2000 IU per day is a good amount for most people in my experience. If your supplement tablet has a higher amount like 5000 IU, you can take one capsule every 2-3 days. Since vitamin A is fat-soluble and can stay in your body longer than other vitamins. One medium carrot per day is another great way to get more than enough vitamin A.
While life has uncertainty, waiting for the perfect containment strategy is passive and perhaps even depressing! While we should be wise about reducing risks, I encourage you to empower your own body with the environment and nutrients to fight any ailment that comes along.
In Strength & Health,
Jonathan Wong, Founder Genesis Gym Singapore