How doctors say you can boost your immune system to protect against flu, coronavirus

Posted at 5:34 AM, Mar 12, 2020

As coronavirus and flu concerns continue, many people are looking for ways to protect themselves and stay healthy. While doctors say training your immune system is something people need to be doing all year long, there are some steps people can take right now.

"As we know with the coronavirus, it is affecting elderly and immunocompromised individuals more. We do know that in our community older individuals do have micro-nutrient deficiencies. We're seeing deficiencies in B vitamin, folate, zinc and that's due to the lack diversity in the foods that they're eating," said USF Endocrinology Doctor Crystal Jacovino.

As always, doctors say washing your hands is the first line of defense.


"Taking enough vitamin C, B vitamins, the micro-nutrients like selenium, folate, things like that are things that really we need to be doing all year long," said Jacovino.

Experts say to stop smoking and avoid alcohol, fried foods and sugary foods immediately.


Foods that are high in sugar can stifle the immune system response, meaning immune cells can't get to where they need to go.

Doctors say people should start adding fruits and vegetables into their diets that are high in antioxidants. Adding spices like ginger and turmeric can also help with inflammation.

"Eating a variety of different types of foods will help assure that you get the proper amount of vitamins and antioxidants and micro-nutrients that we all need to help our immune system function. It helps make our white blood cells work," said Jacovino.


Experts say eating the right foods isn't the only thing that can build immunity and help restore the body.

"Sleep and exercise really help boost the immune system. It allows you rest and rejuvenate and to allow your body the chance to heal. So making sure that you're getting an appropriate amount of sleep, that you're getting good sleep hygiene is very important to fighting off illnesses," said Jacovino.