As 2020 will likely be remembered as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, let us hope that 2021 will be remembered as the year of the Covid-19 vaccine! The FDA has now approved two new vaccinations against Covid-19 and the first batches are currently being distributed to hospitals and nursing homes in California. The vaccine will be distributed on a tiered system designed by the California Department of Public Health, to ensure that those at highest risk will be the first to receive the vaccine. Now would be a good time for you to discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine with your health care provider to determine if it is right for you.
We have learned a lot in the past year about staying safe from Covid, including wearing masks, social distancing and hand hygiene; but the vaccine will provide an added level of protection. While you are waiting for the vaccine, please also consider adding one or more of the below tips to your New Year's resolution list. These tips have been shown to boost your immune system to help prevent infection:
1. Exercise - Regular exercise is very effective in lowering stress, while also helping to control your weight and boost your immune system. The exercise does not need to be strenuous or complicated, try taking a walk each day and catch some sunshine, which will have the added benefit of boosting your Vitamin D levels naturally.
2. Laugh - They say that laughter is the best medicine, and it turns out that there is some truth to this saying. The act of laughing helps reduce stress and has been shown to boost endorphins, which are substances that enhance your sense of well-being and help to boost your immune function.
3. Sleep - A lack of sleep has been shown to have a negative effect on your immune system. Multiple studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus and a lack of sleep can affect how fast you recover. During sleep, essential immune chemicals known as cytokines are produced which help you fight off infection. During sleep deprivation, the body does not produce an adequate amount of these substances leading to an increased risk of infection.
4. Proper nutrition - Your diet provides the building blocks of a healthy immune system. The best way to ensure a healthy immune system is not to focus on taking supplements alone; but rather to focus on eating a balanced diet with whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. The use of a multivitamin and/or multimineral may help to supplement your diet; but it is not an adequate replacement for a well-balanced diet.
5. Stop Smoking - Numerous studies have documented the health benefits of smoking cessation; in fact, it may be one of the single most important things you can do to boost your immune system and improve your overall health.
I hope these tips will help you to achieve a more happy and healthy New Year!