Boosting Immunity for the GSU Community


The combination of flu season and an pandemic with increasing cases causes a need for mindfulness about immune health. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema)

Madelynn Prieboy, Phoenix Staff Writer

Since the beginning of 2020, every minor cough and sniffle has become subject to intense scrutiny and great concern. Fear for contracting COVID-19 is the new norm, but boosting the immune system is a way to prevent illness and bounce back from one quickly. This past Wednesday GSU’s School of Extended Learning provided students with access to a free virtual lecture by Chiro One Healthcare Centers titled “Boosting Your Immunity.” 

“There are so many germs we are exposed to on a daily basis,” said Karmen, the host of the lecture and health educator at Chiro One. “Your first line of defense is your immune system.” 

The lecture discussed natural ways to help increase immunity by making small lifestyle changes. This is done by paying attention to four important areas that influence the immune system: sleep, hygiene, nutrition, and stress.  

Sleep is one of the most important ways to rest the body. According to the lecture, it protects against heart disease, influenza, and inflammation.  

“While in the fourth stage of sleep the body produces T-cells that prevent infection,” Karmen said. In the fourth stage, called slow wave, tissues are repaired and the immune system is strengthened.  

The best way to better the immune system by sleeping is to get a restful seven hours of it. Building a nightly routine, managing time effectively, drinking a cup of tea, taking a natural sleep aid like valerian root, or taking a bath are all healthy ways to decompress from the day for a good night’s sleep. Of course, turning off phones and TVs three hours before bed is also encouraged.  

Hygiene plays a big role, as well. Despite the past few months of proper handwashing education, a large amount of people still do not wash their hands properly. Soap and water is ideal, but hand sanitizer will kill germs on hands. A quick rub and rinse won’t do, said Karmen. 

“For every 15 seconds you wash your hands, 10 times more germs get removed. Wash between your fingers and down to your wrists.” 

It is also suggested to be aware of the hygiene of public places. Bring disinfectant wipes, a small spray bottle of alcohol, and always read cleaning protocol for restaurants and businesses.  

Nutrition’s role in the body’s health amid COVID-19 isolation seems to have separated people into groups of born-again health fiends and those who have gained the “quarantine 15.” While it may be relieving to indulge in comfort foods in times of high tension, junk foods do not have benefits in the long run. Foods such as lean proteins, healthy fats, and produce in a wide range of colors are what aid the body in boosting its immune system. 

Karmen also suggesting taking vitamin supplements. “Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and zinc supplements all help the immune system to function effectively.” If people are still getting sick often despite a healthy diet the issue may lie in their digestion, which is something to be discussed with a doctor.  

It is hard to not feel the weight of stress during a pandemic, especially one that happens during an election year. When people are stressed their immune system weakens, leaving them vulnerable to sickness. 

“You may feel chronic pain, fatigue, frequent illness, anxiety, and depression,” said Karmen. “When the body deals with stress it acts as if it is being attacked, the fight or flight response is activated.”  

Deep breathing, meditation, and stretching are known to help ease the effects of stress. To reap the most benefits of those practices means making them routine. Using stress relieving methods often helps encourage mindfulness about the causes of stress so it can be addressed and resolved.  

Small changes can contribute to a healthy body to fend off and manage illness, which today is more of a concern to the public than ever before. Being aware of what could be improved in the body and working on them will boost the immune system significantly. 

The School of Extended learning has many courses available to GSU students. Many of the courses are free and just require registration, like the “Boosting Your Immunity” lecture. For more information about future programs visit the School of Extended Learning page on GSU’s website.