Self-isolation is currently your best defense against COVID-19, but as you've probably already figured out, it's not always going to be easy. One of the struggles you might be currently dealing with is your physical and mental health — as contradicting as that may seem. But the good news is there are things you can do to feel better inside and out while still staying indoors, and some of the top wellness supplements can help.
In addition to lifestyle habits like exercising, getting enough sleep, keeping your home clean, and adopting stress-relieving practices like meditation, doctors and other health professionals suggest that certain supplements can keep you in fighting shape by reducing anxiety and boosting your immunity (among other things). "Now more than ever is the time to up your wellness game and keep yourself strong and healthy," says naturopath, nutritionist, and founder of Edible Beauty Anna Mitsios. "Firstly, looking after our health during stay-at-home times ensures that we are looking after our mental health in the best way possible. Secondly, it ensures that our immune system is being maintained and strengthened."
And while supplements can be beneficial, it should be noted that they're not meant to be a substitute for good nutrition. "Eating real, nutrient dense food is one of the best ways to get immune-boosting vitamins and minerals," says Dr. Stace Nelson-Hicks, a lifestyle medicine expert. "So, take the time — we have plenty of it — to research new recipes and start cooking at home." That said, for those of you who are already practicing nutritious eating habits, read ahead for some wellness supplements that could step up your health even further.
"Zinc has been shown in studies to halt the replication of viruses, and there is evidence that it may be helpful with COVID-19," shares Dr. Jared Heathman, a wellness physician and psychiatrist. "More physicians are beginning to utilize zinc supplements in hopes that it provides some prophylaxis."
"With limited access to grocery stores, your eating pattern may be a little off, which can throw off the digestive system," explains Emily Wunder, registered dietician and creator of Healthier Taste. "A probiotic could be a good idea at this time to help with regularity, whether it be as a supplement or through food like yogurt." And what's more, experts have suggested that since there's a connection to your gut and your mental health, regularly incorporating a probiotic might also stave off depression and brain fog.
"Vitamin C is not only immune-boosting, it is also a wonderful vitamin for lifting energy levels," says Mitsios. "Vitamin C is used by the adrenal glands to produce the hormone cortisol. If your body is currently spending a lot of time in 'stress gear' or you are feeling adrenally fatigued."
Since your time outdoors is limited, you could be lacking in Vitamin D, which helps improve cognitive function, according to Dr. Nelson-Hicks. If safely socially distancing outside for a few minutes a day — which is the preferred way to get this vitamin for Dr. Shalini Bhat, functional medicine practitioner and creator of The Movement Boutique — isn't an option for you, consider adding this supplement to your wellness routine.
Now is as good a time as any to try out the adaptogen trend, according to wellness experts. Keep in mind this is a broad category, with different adaptogens benefitting different health aspects. That said, Mitsios suggests Withania and Siberian Ginseng. "These are two of my go-to herbs for adrenal fatigue and help the body to adapt to stress."
Dr. Nelson-Hicks points to medicinal mushrooms like Chaga and Reishi. According to the herbologist, these types of adaptogens can provide polysaccharides — which may increase the activity of natural killer cells and macrophages — boost immunity, reduce stress, and increase your energy supply. As for Dr. Bhat, she recommends trying Astragalus for immunity and Rhodiola for stress.
If you already have this supplement in your cupboard to help ease you into a more restful sleep, you know it can be helpful for reducing stress and giving a calm feeling. According to Dr. Nelson-Hicks, that's because it helps regulate neurotransmitters which contribute to your mood.
Honokiol, or Magnolia bark, can reduces stress and anxiety by managing your cortisol levels, according to Dr. Nelson-Hicks. As a result, you might just get a better night's sleep too, and experts agree that regular sleep is a fantastic way to keep your immune system operating at its best.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.