We know what steps to take to reduce our likelihood of catching the virus, but how should we be building our inner defenses in case we do? We asked docs what they do.
Swap out sweets.
“Elevated blood-sugar levels may be related to the severity of COVID-19 infection, and there is some evidence that sugar may impair the function of immune cells. I have been reducing my sugar intake to be safe.” —Nate Favini, M.D., Medical Lead, Forward, a primary care practice
Take vitamin C and D.
“Studies have shown vitamin C can help prevent and fight off infections. I personally take 1,000 mg. every morning.” —Dr. Favini
“I recommend 50,000 IU of vitamin D for two days, then 15,000 IU per day until this situation resolves. Similarly, I suggest 40,000 IU of vitamin A for two days, then 10,000 IU thereafter. I’m also taking 50 mg. of zinc and 3,000 mg. of vitamin C a day.” —Fred Pescatore, M.D., author of The A-List Diet
Nosh on nutrients.
“I have a ‘food first’ philosophy, so I’m eating zinc-rich foods like seafood, animal protein, nuts, seeds, and legumes and getting vitamin C from citrus, kiwi, and leafy greens.”
— Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of Brain Body Diet
Drink green tea.
“Each day I’m drinking green tea, which is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and shown to prevent respiratory infection.”
— Aviva Romm, M.D., author of The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution
Sip and bask.
“I’m drinking nettle tea because the research shows stinging nettle reduces cytokines, which have been connected to severe COVID-19 symptoms. I’m gardening in the sun for 30 minutes each day to get my vitamin D and to ‘ground’ in soil — this is good for the gut and microbiome, where 70 percent of your immune system resides.” —Dr. Gottfried
Knock this back.
“I drink a mixture of 1⁄4 tsp. of baking soda in warm water three times daily. Baking soda is alkaline, and when we create a higher pH level in the body, it helps fight viruses and decrease inflammation.”
— Erika Schwartz, M.D., founder, Evolved Science wellness practice
Enjoying fresh air.
“I go on a 20-minute walk every day. Promising research shows exercise helps protect against COVID complications.”
— Dr. Schwartz
“Stress and anxiety compromise immunity and inhibit recovery. That’s why I check in every day with friends and family. I find sending pretty pictures of nature, pets, and selfies is my favorite way to bring a smile.” —Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., National Institutes of Health Clinical Center
Relax before bed.
“I keep up a nourishing self-care routine before bed — flossing my teeth, putting on moisturizer, brushing my hair, and reading a relaxing novel.” —Dr. Romm
“Meditating before bed helps my sleep and reduces my teeth-grinding! Sleep improves immune intelligence — I’m focused on improving deep sleep, which naturally reduces anxiety.” —Dr. Gottfried
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.