Four keys to a healthy immune system

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One of the best things you can do to protect yourself against Covid-19 is to build and maintain a healthy immune system.

By Dr. Sonja Stiller, Center for Advanced Vein Care

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself against Covid-19 is to build and maintain a healthy immune system. This not only helps prevent you from becoming infected in the first place, it minimizes the severity of the symptoms in the event you ultimately test positive for the virus.

A healthy immune response also protects against other maladies—from colds, flus and strep throat to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

There are many ways to improve your body’s ability to fight infection, but most fit nicely into these four overall themes:

  1. Get Proper Nutrition
  2. Keep Moving
  3. Reduce Inflammation
  4. Maintain Emotional Well-being

Get Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition includes everything you already know about a healthy diet, such as eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, etc., but it also includes vitamins and minerals that give your body the building blocks it needs, many of which are difficult to acquire in sufficient enough quantities through food alone. Some of the more essential supplements I recommend include vitamin D (especially during Northeast Ohio’s dark winters), vitamin C, zinc, turmeric, honey, melatonin, and the use of an anti-viral mouthwash.

Keep Moving
Keeping moving refers primarily to walking, which helps with weight loss, strengthens your cardiovascular system, and reduces anxiety and depression. If you can’t seem to get in your 10,000 steps each day, start with 1,000 and work toward 5,000. As a vein specialist, I cannot overemphasize the importance of a strong calf muscle, which serves as your “second heart,” pumping blood and toxins up and out of your lower legs. Circulation issues, such as varicose veins, can inhibit blood flow and lead to leg swelling, achiness and fatigue. The resulting build-up of toxins (metabolic waste) also increases inflammation.

Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, and in this stressful, modern era it is rampant among our population. Fortunately, exercise and a proper diet—along with anti-inflammatory supplements like turmeric—can reduce inflammation, but that may not be enough. Many people don’t realize that one of the biggest contributors to inflammation is stress. This is one reason why it is so important to maintain your emotional well-being, especially during these trying times.

Maintain Emotional Well-Being
Simple exercises like walking can reduce stress and anxiety, and dramatically improve your emotional well-being, but so can social interaction. We are, after all, intensely social beings. The extreme isolation induced by our response to the pandemic has created its own pandemic of anxiety. It’s important to socialize as much as you feel comfortable doing, especially over the holidays. That may include your family’s traditional gatherings, getting together while practicing social distancing, or doing video conferencing—again, interact as much as you feel comfortable doing. Just remember that phone calls, Zoom meetings, Facebook, Instagram and other social media are no replacement for the warmth, comfort and joy of genuine human contact.

As always, give our office a call if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • chronic leg pain
  • fatigue
  • itching
  • burning
  • inflammation
  • leg cramps
  • restless legs syndrome

Remember that varicose vein treatments take time. If you want to enjoy a healthy, active summer next year, it’s essential to schedule your initial examination now.

Dr. Sonja Stiller is a diplomat of both the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. She is the founder of the Center for Advanced Vein Care, a Tier 1 provider with Lake Health Hospital System, located at 7200 Mentor Avenue, in Mentor. For an appointment, call 440-710-1140. More info can be found at