Tips to boost your immune system during COVID-19

Friday, July 17, 2020

While there is no one specific treatment or preventative measure against COVID-19, a Johannesburg based doctor is advising people to stick to a healthy diet, good rest and exercising within the limits of regulations.

According to the general practitioner, Dr Marlin McKay, there is also some evidence that taking supplements such as vitamin D may help with boosting your immune system against the virus.

“This needs to be in high level, not the one that you buy over the counter as part of the combination,” he explained, adding that you need about 50 000 international units of vitamin D.

He is also recommending a high dose of vitamin C – a minimum of 1 gram, about 100 milligrams of zinc and magnesium.

“And just making sure that you keep your chronic condition under control; if you’re diabetic, make sure your sugar is well controlled. If you’re on blood pressure medication, keep on taking your medication to maintain good blood pressure control,” McKay added.

According to the Department of Health, 8 million people are living with HIV in South Africa, 4 million with diabetes, while one in every three in the country suffers from hypertension.

“Don’t become overweight, keep exercising, try to keep as fit as you can,” the doctor stressed.

Also, drink a lot of liquids to keep dehydration at bay.

Most importantly, if you have not received your shot of a flu vaccine, get one soon.

“The flu vaccine will get you that level of protection at least against influenza in case you get infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus,” McKay said.

McKay shared his views as part of the #ListenToTheDoctor campaign run by the Health Department on social media to spread awareness about the Coronavirus. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), regular physical activity is good for your body and mind as millions of people grapple with the infectious disease across the globe. 

“It can reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers – all conditions that can increase susceptibility to COVID-19,” the WHO added.

To maintain a healthy diet, the agency said people should eat a variety of food including fruits and vegetables, limit salt intake, use moderate amounts of fats and oils and cut back on sugar intake. 

Also, avoid hazardous and harmful alcohol use and mothers are advised to breastfeed their babies and young children. 

“Eating a healthy diet is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic. What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections.”

Also, the WHO warns against smoking.

“Smokers have a higher risk of getting Coronavirus because they are constantly putting their hands to their lips.”

Besides, if they contract the virus, they are at a greater risk of getting a severe case because their lung function is impaired.

“Quit today to reduce these risks and start living a healthier life,” WHO added.

According to the WHO, as of Thursday, there were 13 378 853 cases worldwide, with 580 045 deaths. –


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