Having lived through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, most of us are familiar with the basics of self-care to avoid getting sick. Despite this, the truth is that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and all the other unwanted and vengeful germs are always coming up with new ways to win. This means that fortifying immune health is an ongoing priority if we want to experience life doing what we love.
While most infections come and go after a week or so, other infections such as COVID-19 don’t always play by this rule. In fact, data shows that 5% to 10% of Australians and up to 20% of New Zealanders could experience ongoing symptoms for 12-weeks after initial infection, leaving you feeling tired, foggy and run down – no thanks!
To combat this, we’ve researched three ways to fortify immune health and limit the chances of lingering post-viral symptoms from holding you back.
1. Supercharge your cellular batteries (aka mitochondria)
Feeling highly energetic feels good right? In the same way, our body cells also feel super productive when their batteries are fully charged. This is important for two reasons; to ensure cells have enough energy to perform their functions (such as defending against foreign microbes), and to repair and regenerate new cells (such as barrier cells between the body and the outside world).
This is where energy-enhancing nutrient, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can help. Without enough CoQ10, the body can struggle to recover from illness, which has been observed in patients with long COVID and in individuals who experience ongoing fatigue. Recent evidence shows that in people struggling to recover from chronic fatigue, 150 mg/d of CoQ10 in the form of ubiquinol over 12 weeks can help improve energy levels.1 For this reason, supercharging mitochondria with CoQ10 can help keep the body fighting fit.
2. Build up your reserves of immune-enhancing nutrients
When immune cells are enlisted for battle, their potential for success comes from having enough nutritional support to rally a robust army. Specifically, a combination of zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D along with regular protein intake can make the difference between an immune army that barely made it through bootcamp versus a squad that gets the job done. Highlighting their importance, a 2022 review of 85 human studies concluded that zinc and vitamins C and D enable many anti-viral mechanisms, and their deficiency tends to worsen patient outcomes. Truth be told though, it can be hard to optimise nutrient status through diet, so supplementing your reserves of these three nutrients can help to boost immunity.
3. Reset your mindset and be kind to yourself
Sometimes, putting life on hold to recover can feel disheartening and stressful. However, being aware of the thoughts you hold is important, as negative thinking can lead to longer recovery time following a viral infection. For this reason, reframing your thinking can help fast-track the return of good health. Of course, it’s hard to think positive when your body just needs some rest, so definitely take some time to be kind to yourself by:
- Organising time off work and duties wherever you can.
- Making time to relax and spend as little energy as possible.
- Setting boundaries and avoiding over-extending yourself.
- Reconfiguring how you do things to save effort (e.g., order groceries online, delegate tasks to others).
- Getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
By following these tips, immunity can be fortified against future threats. But remember – taking enough time to recover is key – slow and steady always wins the race!
Feel fully fortified and ready for when an infection hits
As a health professional, supporting the body’s ability to fight infection should be a top priority. To do this, a combination of energy-boosting and immune-fortifying supplements paired with practical self-care strategies can help the body triumph against pathogens, so you can get back to living your healthiest life!