For years now, Dr. Mehmet Oz has doled out medical advice and tips on his eponymous TV series. It stands to reason, then, that the famous health expert knows what he’s talking about. And so you may want to take notice of the former surgeon’s suggestions on how to keep your immune system strong – some of which are way easier to incorporate into your daily life than you may think.
Yes, regardless of the presence of a global viral threat, it’s vital that your immune system is in tip-top shape. After all, this group of cells, bodily chemicals and processes does its part to battle the toxins, bacteria and viruses that enter your system. In the face of coronavirus, then, it’s worth keeping all of these defenses at the ready.
Because of the novelty of the coronavirus, it’s unclear just how contagious – or deadly – it can be. What we do know, however, is that this particular strain – known as COVID-19 – spread rapidly around the globe from its origin in Wuhan, China, and that it has a mortality rate so far of between 1 and 3 percent. For those reasons alone, it’s a good idea to fortify your immune system now.
And Dr. Oz has the credentials to provide good advice to the wider world. Before becoming a doctor, you see, he studied biology at Harvard University. Then he went on to the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and Wharton School, where he simultaneously earned his medical degree and MBA in 1986.
In fact, long before he became a TV personality, Dr. Oz shared his medical knowledge with the nation’s future doctors. For nearly 20 years, he has been a professor within Columbia University’s Department of Surgery. Most of his research revolves around the heart, with the doctor having a particular interest in valve replacement surgery and ways to make procedures involving the organ less invasive.
But Dr. Oz had more in his future than just academia; the spotlight awaited him, too. His television career started back in 2003, when he helmed the Discovery Channel series Second Opinion with Dr. Oz. And the medic began the inaugural episode with a superstar guest: none other than Oprah Winfrey.
The following year, Dr. Oz returned the favor by making an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show – in what would become the first of more than 60 guest slots. Ultimately, though, the heart expert branched out on his own with The Dr. Oz Show, which hit TV screens in 2009.
Oprah’s Harpo Productions continues to co-produce The Dr. Oz Show, which will air at least through 2021. On the program, the expert shares his thoughts on a slew of different medical, health and wellness topics. He interviews celebrity guests and speaks about true crime stories on occasion, too.
And The Dr. Oz Show has earned its fair share of critical acclaim to boot. Most notably, the series has taken home a clutch of Daytime Emmy Awards: four for Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host and five for Outstanding Informative Talk Show. But the program hasn’t aired without some controversy. You see, other doctors have criticized some of Dr. Oz’s opinions, claiming that they don’t have a suitably provable scientific basis.
That could partly be because Dr. Oz often presents homeopathic and alternative medical options to traditional healing routes. His producers have defended this tendency, however, by claiming that the host wants his viewers to know all of the methods available to them. As a result, then, the people at home can decide for themselves how they want to deal with any particular health issues.
In any case, it seems that Dr. Oz’s technique has resonated with fans. Indeed, his series remains one of the top-rated daytime TV shows in the U.S. – particularly among women aged between 25 and 54. And as such, many have looked to Dr. Oz for his advice on the global coronavirus pandemic.
Experts have yet to determine where or how COVID-19 originated, although the first recorded case is said to have emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan on December 1, 2019. Then, after the virus had infected a few hundred people, it spread exponentially in the weeks that followed.
Not much is known about the origins of COVID-19, either. That said, when Chinese officials launched a probe into the strange new illness, they seemed to find a common link between those affected. It appeared, you see, that most of the victims had visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market – a place where shoppers could also purchase live animals. As such, then, officials believe that the virus passed from animals to human carriers.
What experts do know, however, are some of the symptoms that come with this novel strain of coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the most common effects of COVID-19 as being a high temperature, dry cough and fatigue. On top of that, some with the virus have experienced aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny noses, sore throats or diarrhea.
However, the virus affects each host differently. Indeed, according to the WHO, roughly 80 percent of those who have contracted COVID-19 will have mild symptoms that are only equivalent to the dangers posed by the common cold. It’s likely, then, that these people won’t require a lot of medical attention. But not everyone who catches the virus will get off that easy.
The WHO estimates that roughly 16 percent of those with COVID-19 will end up seriously ill because of it. The most at-risk groups are the elderly as well as those with underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and chronic respiratory issues. And doctors have few remedies to help, as neither antibiotics nor flu medications have been proven to quell the symptoms.
Meanwhile, many have compared the effects of COVID-19 to those of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). But while all of these conditions can cause debilitating respiratory changes, there’s at least one major difference: COVID-19 has spread much faster than both MERS and SARS did.
For reference, it took 30 months for MERS to infect 1,000 patients, while SARS reached that milestone in around four months. The new coronavirus, by contrast, spread to at least 1,000 people in just 48 days. And in early March 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 to have created a pandemic – meaning the virus had rapidly advanced across the globe.
As of March 28, 2020, there were more than 620,000 cases of COVID-19 in nearly 200 countries, according to Worldometer.com. Among these numbers, almost 140,000 people had recovered, while nearly 30,000 patients had passed away. And the hardest-hit nation at that point was the United States, which in late March 2020 had recorded over 100,000 cases.
Another country to have suffered greatly from the pandemic is Italy. And the southern European nation’s outbreak has been especially intense as a result of the demographics there. You see, Italy has the second-oldest population of anywhere on the planet, and the elderly tend to have a harder time fighting the virus. According to Professor Walter Ricciardi – an adviser to the minister of health in Italy – these circumstances created conditions that were completely different to those found in China.
In March 2020 Ricciardi told The Daily Telegraph, “The age of [Italian] patients in hospitals is substantially older; the median is 67, while in China it was 46. So, essentially the age distribution of our patients is squeezed to an older age, and this is substantial in increasing the lethality.”
And, understandably, Italy’s hospitals have felt the strain of so many patients needing care. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, 80 percent of affected octogenarians within the nation are likely to have needed critical hospital care. The near-majority of COVID-19 cases – roughly 40 percent – have occurred in Italians over the age of 70, with this age bracket accounting for 87 percent of the country’s total deaths from the illness as of late March 2020.
But the Italian government has, of course, enacted strict measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. First, the government shut down schools and postponed sporting events. Then, soon after, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the entire nation in lockdown. Nearly all of the country’s businesses closed, too – save, that is, for supermarkets and pharmacies.
Nations around the world have also enacted similar measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus is said to be transmitted through droplets that are expelled when an infected person sneezes or coughs. These same droplets can also land on hard surfaces; in that way, someone can contract the virus if they touch an affected surface before putting their hands on their face.
So, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, experts have naturally provided advice on how people can protect themselves. Dr. Oz, for one, has shared his tips for bolstering the immune system so that you can fortify your body against the virus.
In a March 2020 episode of Today, Dr. Oz started off by advising viewers to avoid handshaking colleagues or hugging their friends. Instead, the medical expert suggested that you start fist-bumping with others instead. He went on, “[Handshakes pass] the most bacteria. [A] high-five [passes on] only half the bacteria of a handshake, but a fist bump is only one-tenth.”
Next, Dr. Oz said, everyone should take some time to meditate during the coronavirus outbreak. According to the host, such a period of mindfulness can help ward off anxiety, which in turn should take some pressure off your immune system. And the former surgeon also explained how you can find a quiet place to gather your thoughts – even if the entire family is stuck at home.
Dr. Oz said, “[Do] something as simple as a five-minute yoga tactic. Go sit on the toilet seat, put it down – you’re not going to the bathroom – sit there, quiet yourself and just realize that it’s okay. No one will bother you there.” Then, once you’ve focused on the mental wellness side of your routine, you can move onto immune system-boosting supplements.
Dr. Oz made a point to highlight the fact that a supplement cannot beat coronavirus on its own. Even so, they typically contain vital nutrients that help fortify the immune system. The heart specialist added that a well-rounded supplement regimen was one of the “tactics that will slow down the progression of viruses in general.”
Dr. Oz also explained that fruits and vegetables have plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – all of which assist in strengthening the immune system. Consuming leafy greens, citrus fruits, blackberries and kiwis, then, should help provide your body with the feel-good nutrients it needs. And, the TV personality added, you can pack a multitude of these ingredients into tasty smoothies.
Another smart tip from Dr. Oz was to get the flu shot. While such a vaccination won’t help against COVID-19, knowing that you have flu antibodies in your system can help rule it out as a cause for symptoms. The doctor explained, “That way, if you feel ill, you know it’s not the flu, most likely.”
And Dr. Oz shared an even more extensive list of coronavirus-fighting tips during a March 2020 appearance on Fox & Friends. For example, he advised viewers to make sure that they had at least seven hours of sleep every night. After all, ample shut-eye is one of the best ways to strengthen the immune system.
As you sleep, the immune system emits cytokines – a type of bodily protein that serves a slew of purposes. Cytokines assist in warding off infection, for instance, as well as helping you rest more effectively. And when you don’t get enough shut-eye, you risk having a short supply of these proteins and others that your immune system needs to fight off illness.
Dr. Oz also told Fox & Friends viewers that exercise could fortify your immune system along with improving the body’s overall fitness. And even moderate activity has been shown to have such an effect. For example, regular walks can increase white blood cell counts, and these are the very cells that work to fight infection.
Meanwhile, although some countries have enacted travel bans in the wake of the pandemic, Dr. Oz had advice for those who may be flying: choose the window seat. The TV host explained, “It’s better for you because that germ zone is that little limited area.”
Plus, Dr. Oz added, any air coming in through the plane window would be “pretty clean.” He also suggested that you boost indoor air quality with a humidifier. And this could prove helpful in more ways than one, as viruses don’t like moistened air.
Finally, in Dr. Oz’s March 2020 column for Variety, he shared what he called “the ultimate DIY vaccine” for anyone hoping to avoid COVID-19. The doctor said that everyone should start to “wash their hands like surgeons” – an antiviral method that he claimed can cut the risk of infection by half.
And Dr. Oz isn’t alone in giving such advice, as health authorities worldwide have urged the public to wash their hands on regular occasions for at least 20 seconds a time. If someone cannot make it to a sink, however, they should use a hand sanitizer gel instead. On Fox & Friends, Dr. Oz recommended that a sanitizing solution containing a minimum of 60 percent alcohol should be used to cleanse the hands in lieu of soap and water.
And, as Dr. Oz wrote in Variety, washing your hands is the simplest and fastest way to stall the spread of coronavirus. Plus, he reminded his readers that humankind was “all in this together.” Given the sheer number of cases of COVID-19 infection around the globe, everyone would have to do their part to stay sanitary.
Still, Dr. Oz urged the public not to panic; with the right steps, they could keep coronavirus at bay. He said on Fox & Friends, “I think we’re causing more harm to each other with the anxiety of the virus than the actual virus.” And he offered some calming words to Today’s viewers, saying, “Live your life. Do not live your life with fear. Live it with joy and kindness.”