How to keep up a strong immune system and fight off the coronavirus

Many of those affected by coronavirus develop only a mild illness, while some develop no illness at all. That may be an indication of what happens when the virus meets a well-functioning immune system.

When it comes to keeping our immune systems healthy, a lot of it comes down to healthy habits. So no, you are not doomed if infected by the coronavirus; Most are sailing through the epidemic just fine.

It is nothing you haven’t heard before, but it certainly bears repeating during this cold and flu season: If you want to meet the coronavirus or any infectious agent fully armed eat well, sleep well and de-stress.

“We already know that, for the vast majority of people that are already healthy, this is really more of an inconvenience to a lot of them than something that can be fatal or life-threatening,” said Dr. Caroline Sokol, an immunology researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Sokol still recommends adopting healthy habits that can keep the immune system in fighting form, like staying well-hydrated and eating a balanced diet.

What's even more crucial, Dr. Sokol says, is reducing stress, which can directly affect immune function.

“We know that if you get too much stress ... that can suppress your immune response to bacteria, to viruses, to all kinds of different things,” she said.

If you’re tempted to fret over coronavirus, Sokol says you can de-stress with this fact:

“We're assaulted on a daily basis from all kinds of viruses coming from our kids, coming from our colleagues, coming from surfaces that we touch throughout the day,” she said.

Exercise benefits just about everything, including the immune system. Dr. Sokol says the immune system loves just the right amount of sleep.

"Too little and also probably too much can also affect your immune response to bacteria and viruses,” she said.

Comments on this article