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Brought to you by our HDH Dietitian

Immune Boosting Tips

  1. Preload to protect

    Doing whatever you can always to keep your immune system healthy. When your immune system is preloaded it is as if it is saying to you: “Okay, you have fed and cared for us wisely, so we are armed to fight for you against any germ that may come your way.” A simple way to understand this is by thinking about a natural germ-fighting army inside of your body (with a visual of course- courtesy of Dr. Sears). These are called Natural Killer cells. These trillions of NK cells are constantly on high alert and police your body with search-and-destroy missions for germs (and even cancer cells, by the way) that don’t belong in your body and may threaten its health. Like magnets, they attach themselves to the foreign germs and literally shoot biochemical bullets into them and blow them up. If the general of your NK army could tell you four things to help your army fight better it would be: 1) believe that we will fight for you; 2) feed us nutrient dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts seeds, legumes and sustainable seafood. 3) reduce added sugar and for a moment curtail excess sweet treats, especially sugary beverages, which depresses the immune system; and 4) move more, sit less. It’s interesting that studies have shown that movement mobilizes the immune system and increases the fighting ability of your NK cells.

  2. Avoid spreading germs with your hands

    • No handshaking. A bow or elbow bump or just a head nod to be super hip.
    • Because the coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 1-2 weeks, it makes sense to refrain from touching the most common surfaces that the virus is likely to live on: light switches, doorknobs, toilet flushers, elevator buttons, handles and handrails, gasoline pumps, cell-phones, and other high-touched areas. If you don’t have a wipe, use your knuckles or two hands with knuckles to turn knobs.
    • Wipe shopping cart handles with disinfectant wipes if they are available. If not, bring your own (see below for how to make your own hand sanitizer) or else use disposable gloves with this kind of highly touched public surface.
  3. Cover your mouth

    Rather than using your hand to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, use a disposable napkin or, as a last resort, cough/sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Remember that coughing onto clothing can harbor the virus for a week or more, so be careful that others don’t touch your sleeve.

  4. Wash your hands

    Wash your hands thoroughly and often, using soap and water, for 20 seconds. Teach your kids to wash while they sing the Happy Birthday song two times. Shoot, teach yourself.

  5. Make your own hand sanitizer

    Since commercial hand sanitizers are likely to be “out of stock” for a while, you can make your own with a combination of 91% alcohol and aloe vera gel. Here is a viable recipe we found online: Stir together well (you can use a wire whisk) 2/3 cup 91% alcohol and 1/3 cup aloe vera gel. You can add 8-10 drops of essential oils (such as Tea Tree or Lavender for added benefit) to mask the odor of the alcohol. Pour this into several small bottles and keep one next to your home entrance door, in your car, at work, and any other areas where you’re likely to encounter the most people-touched objects, especially where soap and water is not handy.

  6. Don’t touch your face!

    You may be surprised to learn that most of us habitually rub our eyes, nose and mouth nearly a hundred times a day, which can quickly transmit the virus from face to hand or from hand to face. As far as we know, the COVID-19 virus infects lungs as its main entry point, which brings us to the question of should you wear a mask. Since this virus is spread by droplets (tiny particles of mucus holding the virus) in the air from coughing or sneezing, you might think a mask should protect you from coughing the virus onto someone else and vice versa. Yet, most authorities do not believe that the typical masks sold in stores are that protective. The ones that are protective are so tightly fitting that it’s almost impossible to talk while wearing them. One good thing about wearing a mask, though, is it reminds you not to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.

  7. Follow trusted resources

    Follow trusted coronavirus resources, such as found at the CDC website and below in the resource list.

  8. Preload your immune system with smart foods

    These include fruits, vegetables, and omega-rich food such as seafood. Especially during flu season, preload your body with an immune-boosting smoothie in the morning, and a veggie and seafood-rich dinner in the evening. Try to eat foods high in zinc, such as eggs, nuts, legumes, and sustainable seafood.

Miriam MPH, RD, CPT,
Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
HDH Wellness Dietitian


  2. CDC website

Curated COVID-19 Resources