As the hand sanitizer and soap starts to fly off the shelves of the grocery store, the worry sets in. While there’s a lot of fear around viruses at the moment, there’s not as much practical advice on how to protect yourself and your family. So let’s talk about it. One of the most practical steps you can take is to boost your immune system. You’re already on track if you eat real food that provides the vitamins and nutrients that you need for everyday energy levels. And on the flip side of that, every time you eat processed food, you are doing nothing for your immune system, you could even be harming it. So let’s start there, with nutrition.
Boost Your Immune System with Food
Vitamin D is vital to a strong immune system. Hopefully, with this unusually warm weather we’ve been having throughout most of the country, you’ve had the opportunity to get lots of extra Vitamin D. Of course, non-burning sun exposure is best as to not create additional problems such as skin cancer. Protect your skin but also get plenty of Vitamin D.
Other food and nutrients that can help fight off the flu are garlic, Vitamin C (bell peppers, strawberries, citris fruits), Zinc (spinach, garlic, salmon).
Also lay off the sugar. Dr. Mercola, at www.mercola.com, has this to say about Vitamin D and sugar, “In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best flu-prevention and optimal health strategies available. Your diet also plays a significant role of course, as it lays the foundation for good immune function. A high-sugar diet is a sure-fire way to diminish your body’s innate ability to fight off infections of all kinds by radically impairing the functioning of your immune system.”
Boost Your Immune System with Movement
Now onto exercise. Harvard Health says, “Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.” Guess what the best part is? It doesn’t have to been anything extreme. Moving for even 30 minutes a day can be just the right amount of time to boost immunity!
Boost Your Immune System by Reducing Stress
Reduce your stress. Stress can cause our body to do all kinds of weird things. Think of the fight or flight syndrome, which is what you encounter every time you get stressed (even if you don’t notice it all the time). When your body goes into the fight or flight mode, it shuts down other systems so that the energy can be directed to run or fight. Your digestion and immune systems are probably the most important systems that shut down when you’re stressed. Your body is not able to digest food properly even if it has great nutrients and vitamins essential for your health. Your immune system shuts down and stops trying to fight off sickness.
To immediately calm down your body and almost trick it into destressing itself try breathing techniques. I use the 5-5-7 technique since it’s easy to remember. 5 seconds of inhale, 5 seconds of holding the breath and 7 seconds of exhale. There are many techniques so use whichever one works best for you. Meditation, self-care, and just hitting the pause button are also great ways to keep your stress in check.
Boost Your Immune System with More Sleep
Get enough sleep. This. Is. So. Important. Your body needs time to rest and replenish so that it can work hard all day to fight off all those germs you’re naturally exposed to. When you sleep, your body heals damaged cells, your brain recharges, and your IMMUNE SYSTEM IS BOOSTED. You can google all the scientific details on how this happens, but it’s the way our bodies were created. To rest. To replenish. To repair.
Use these techniques throughout the year and I would put my bets on you being less likely to get sick period. Implementing these suggestions TODAY can put you on the path to a stronger immune system.
Stay Calm and Eat Your Veggies.
To Your Health,
Coach Leslie J.