Diabetes and Covid-19: Keeping your Immune System Strong
Updated: Aug 21
People with diabetes are at risk to get more severe flu or Covid-19 symptoms. This is especially true for people with diabetes who are elderly, or have a lung or heart condition, or whose blood sugar levels are consistently high. For more information about Covid-19, how to reduce your exposure to the virus, and how to respond if you do become exposed, please read Diabetes Canada’s FAQ about COVID-19 and Diabetes.
Try to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level to maintain or enhance your immune system; this will then help you fight the flu or Covid-19. Here is some information adapted from the flu section on pages 292-293 of our 2020 edition of Complete Diabetes Guide:
EXERCISE EVERY DAY. Exercise helps white blood cells – the special cells that fight infection – flow throughout your body. The best exercise is to walk, and keep social distance. If you have home exercise equipment, work this into your day.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER, ABOUT 6 TO 8 CUPS. This helps flush germs out of your body. This also helps prevent dehydration, which can happen if your blood sugar is high. When you’re dehydrated, tiny cracks can form inside your nose. Viruses now have an easy way to get in your body.
EAT A HEALTHY DIET. Many restaurants are closed, you are home more, this is a time to have some fun with healthy home cooking. Cook soups and stews and vegetable stir-fries. Choose foods rich in vitamin C and A and antioxidants (like oranges, sweet peppers, broccoli, garlic and onions). Vitamin D may also have a role in a healthy immune system. Good dietary sources of Vitamin D are milk, fish and margarine. A walk outdoors in the sunlight is our best source of vitamin D.
TRY TO GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP TO HELP MANAGE STRESS. This reduces stress hormones and improves your immune system.
LIMIT OR AVOID ALCOHOL AND SMOKING. These make you more likely to get ill, and they will slow your recovery. Smoking and vaping are bad for the lungs and Covid-19 also hurts the lungs. If you are a smoker or vaper, now is the time to try and cut back or reach out to your pharmacist to get nicotine replacement products to start on a quit journey.
TAKE YOUR DIABETES MEDICATIONS.
SPECIAL NOTE IF YOU HAVE TUBERCULOSIS. Tuberculosis affects the lungs. Take your antibiotics and medications exactly as prescribed and you must take the full prescription, even if symptoms go away.