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How to Boost your immune system during the current COVID 19 outbreak.

The novel coronavirus pandemic hit the world when no one expected a pandemic of this extent. It first hit China , then Iran, Italy , several other countries and now we are facing it here in US. We have been hearing about rising cases of COVID 19 in almost all parts of US on a daily basis. Experts agree that about 81 percent of those exposed to this coronavirus 19, will have a mild disease, 15 percent will require hospitalization and about 4 to 5 percent may need critical care.

So how do we protect ourselves and our families? Besides taking all the precautionary measures recommended by CDC, such as frequent hand washing, avoiding crowded places and practicing social distancing , we also need to understand how do we make our immune systems strong . A strong immune system is very important so in case we are exposed to the virus , we can fight it off and not end up with a severe disease. 

I often get the question from my patients: what supplements do we need to take to boost the immune system? My answer always is :Boost your immune system with the help of a healthy diet and healthy life style. Do not depend on supplements.  Supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet, they are just supplementary! The key is, not to take dozens of supplements, but to eat a healthy and complete diet. It is also extremely important to eliminate unhealthy, processed and proinflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, Gluten and processed foods to mantain a healthy immune system.  

 Most of our immune system, I mean almost 70 percent, is in our gut. Every time we expose our gut to unhealthy foods, we are not only damaging the lining of our gut, we are also killing our good bacteria and promoting an environment for unhealthy bacteria. This leads to dysbiosis, imbalance of good and bad bacteria which directly stresses our immune system and its ability to fight infections. What it means is that we have to eat healthy just so we can mantain a healthy immune system through a healthy gut. 

A healthy diet is a source of all micronutrients  that are vital for a properly functioning immune system. These micronutrients include but are not limited to Zinc, Vitamin D , Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  We can obtain most of these ingredients from foods.  For example, there are several foods rich in Zinc like shellfish,  legumes, meat , seeds and nuts. We can obtain Vitamin A from various colored foods like carrots, Vitamin C from oranges, strawberries, kiwis and other citrus fruits. Let's also not forget , that getting adequate sunlight is an excellent way of activating Vitamin D in our skin. 

Hydration is another key to protecting our mucus membranes. Drinking about 8 to 10 cups of water everyday will keep our mucus membranes flushed and healthy. Adequate hydration keeps the mucus membrane intact so the virus doesnt find an opportunity to enter our body through broken or compromised mucosa. 

Adequate sleep and relaxation is another key to maintaining a healthy immune system. 

We all need to aim for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy immune system. Let us focus on our diet and our sleep patterns. This is our best defense against all sorts of infections and challenges. 


Rubina Azam MD Dr Rubina Azam is American Board Certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent medicine. She is also Fellowship trained and Board certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine. Dr Azam has almost 19 years of clinical experience and is loved and respected tremendously by her patients.

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