“What you can’t see can hurt you” is the lead line of “The Invisible Man.” Based on H.G. Wells’ 1897 classic novel, this Hollywood sci-fi thriller revolves around an evil scientist who discovers the secret of invisibility and torments his ex-girlfriend. No one can see him, yet he’s deadly.
It’s the same with COVID-19 and other viruses. They’re invisible. And they can kill.
How do we protect ourselves from a threat we can’t see? “Wash your hands, cover your mouth if you cough, disinfect surfaces and practice social distancing,” urges the Australian Government’s Department of Health. This is sound advice, yet infections may still occur. So, in addition, what should be our top strategy? Knowledgeable physicians and nutritionists agree that our best defense against invisible foes is to build the body’s natural ability to fight disease. Then if we’re infected, our cells can kill the killer, rather than the killer killing us.
Your immune system is your foundation for good health. Its protective network wards off harmful bacteria and viruses, dismantles harmful toxins and acts as a surveillance system against abnormal cells. Its defenses include physical barriers like the skin and inflammatory responses to injured areas.
Constant stress, poor diet, and a lack of exercise or sleep can cripple your immune “army.” Alcohol and smoking do the same. These factors can increase inflammation, impair health, increase the risk for certain diseases, and even shorten life. Healthy lifestyle choices, positive social connections, and trust in a loving Creator boost, build, and balance your defenses. Together, they’re like well-trained troops for your immune and stress system health.
Strong immune health cannot be obtained by a misleading ‘quick fix’ product. Prepare for times of stress by practicing good physical, mental, and spiritual habits each day. It’s not too late to start to boost, build, and balance your immune defenses. And please, always follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
Antioxidants are powerful immune boosters. They remove harmful oxidants or free radicals from the blood stream. Oxidants are toxic by-products of normal metabolism, and can also occur from exposure to smoke or other environmental toxins. Free radicals can damage DNA and weaken the body’s immune system. Antioxidants reduce damage and strengthen the immune system. You can increase them and improve their effectiveness by:
Citrus, cherries, and berries are especially high in antioxidant nutrients. Green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli are rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. Eating a wide variety of green and yellow vegetables increases blood levels of carotenoids, antioxidants linked to lower levels of stress-related symptoms like insomnia and irritation.
Vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is also essential to healthy immune function particularly in light of COVID-19. If in doubt about your Vitamin D levels, your doctor can order a simple blood test to check.
Colorful vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds deliver immune-boosting vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Along with fibre, they help regulate blood sugar, balance insulin, and lower stress hormones and inflammation. Plant fibre helps control appetite and manage weight.
A diet high in animal fat, refined grains, sugar, and fried food increases free radical damage, which is linked to increased risk for infection, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers. Instead, power up on plant protein with beans, vegetables, whole grains, multi-grain pastas, and vegetarian meat substitutes. Use olive oil and lemon as a salad dressing. Focus on omega-3 fats by including more walnuts and flax seeds in your diet.
Exercise protects and strengthens your immune system. Regular brisk walks can bolster your antibody response and the natural killer (T cell) response, lower inflammation and improve metabolic health. Daily exercise improves your mood, lowers anxiety, and increases a sense of well-being5 especially when enjoyed in fresh air and sunshine. These positive mental states have the additional benefit of boosting immune health.
Chronic stress is a hit to the immune system, leading to depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, irritability, and even panic. Constant negativity and worry can cause a racing heart, fatigue, and sweating. Muscle aches and pains, headaches, and sleep disorders can also result. Healthy ways to handle stress can include taking a walk, talking to a friend, or reaching out to someone in need. Many find peace in talking to God in prayer and memorising His promises. Identify what is in your control and trust the rest to God. Take time to focus on what is most important and make sure your work, family, and social life is in balance.
This world is a battleground, not a playground. We all face physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. The principles shared here will help you however in this broken world of heartache, injustice, and sin, there is no perfect guarantee of freedom from trials and sickness. That’s why we all need Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Not only did Jesus die on the cross for our sins, but He rose from the dead so that we might be saved (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
God has given us health principles to help reduce our risk of sickness. Yet if we do suffer, He will not abandon us. “The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed” (Psalm 41:3).
Whatever happens, God invites you to trust Him now. You can look forward to a wonderful eternity without pain, tears, sickness, or even death. He’s promised this wonderful future to all who give their hearts fully to Him.
In this COVID-19-infected world, where “self-isolation” and “social distancing” are now the norm, don’t isolate or distance from Jesus, our invisible Helper. Don’t be afraid. Keep looking up to Him!
Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any question you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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