For almost 6 months now, we’ve all been doing our best managing the ever changing information regarding COVID-19. Many have been following our local Public Health agency’s recommendations to physically distance, use disinfectant hand sanitizer, and to wear masks. However, there has been one glaring piece of critically important information that I feel has been missing. Our immune health. While so much of what’s happening can feel out of our control, there are things we can have control over. Even those with preexisting conditions, compromised immune systems, or even auto immune disorders, there are things that you can do to support stronger immune health.
With school just around the corner and more people heading back to the office, In addition to thorough hand washing (at least 20 seconds with a regular of bar soap will do the trick), I thought it was timely to share my top tips for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Inadequate sleep affects every system in our body and can increase our risk of adverse health outcomes. Sleep is necessary for our body to repair itself. Our body’s ability to fight infection is impaired when we are sleep deprived. Sleep restores the immune system.How to improve the quantity and quality you get each night:
– Make sleep a priority
– Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night (find your sweet spot)
– Support your natural Circadian Rhythm by following the natural light-dark patterns every day. Ensuring we get the right amounts of cortisol and melatonin is critical for good sleep.
– Get outside.
– Support melatonin production. Decrease your exposure to “blue” light in the evening. Begin by dimming lights, installing blue-light blockers on your electronic devices (f.lux or twilight are some examples that are available for download), you can also wear amber tinted glasses for the last 2-3 hours of your day and when you work on a device throughout the day.
2. Manage Stress
Cortisol increases when we are under stress and it lowers the body’s ability to fight infection. Find healthful ways that make you feel better, such as
– Deep breathing
3. Eat the Rainbow
Eat dark leafy greens and deeply pigmented foods as they are rich in vitamins and minerals that support immune health. Whole foods when properly digested, give us the building blocks for the all of the metabolic and biochemical processes that our body needs to do all of its jobs. The more highly refined and processed foods are, the further away they are from what our body recognizes; our bodies just don’t know how to utilize them. We are eating more, yet we are becoming undernourished.
– Choose live, good quality, natural whole foods
– Eat as seasonably and local as you can
– Get back to the kitchen. Take a cooking class, go to the library and check out some new cookbooks, and have fun with it!
Many people do not drink enough water or they underestimate the amount they are actually consuming. Water is vital to our health. It helps flush toxins and metabolic by-products from our body through sweat and urine. It is critical for nutrient transportation, aids in regularity, and can improve energy levels. As your brain is mostly water, ensuring we are consuming enough, also improves focus and concentration.
– Aim for 8-12 cups of pure water a day
– Opt for non-caffeinated beverages like herbal teas
– Eat fresh fruit and vegetables with high water contents such as cucumber, celery, radish, strawberries, and watermelon
5. Move your body
Exercising helps stimulate our lymphatic system, a key component to our immune system. It also decreases risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, strengthens bones and muscles, and benefits mood and mental health. Movement should be incorporated throughout the day. Whatever your body’s ability is, do what you can. Incorporating rest, gentle and restorative practices is just as important and valuable as high intensity activity.
– For every 20 minutes of sitting, get up and move for a couple of minutes
– Walk at least 30 minute a day
– Add moderate intensity activity throughout the week and ensure proper rest and recovery.
6. Connect with others
Connections are vital to our health and well-being. Social isolation and loneliness are connected to mental and physical health, and mortality risk.
While things may look a bit different during COVID-19, connection is even more important. Find ways to stay connected with loved ones, reconnect with them, or find an online group who shares similar interest.
– Take a virtual cooking class. You meet others and learn a thing or two in the kitchen
– Invite a friend or two out to a picnic
– Make a phone call (or facetime, zoom, etc)
– Focus on quality instead of quantity. Aim to nurture meaningful interactions with a few instead of superficial ones with many
– Get a pet. They provide companionship and can help get you more active
– Ask for help if you need it.
If you follow me in Facebook or Instagram, you know I’ve been using the following natural health supplements for myself and my daughter. We take the whole plant concentrates daily to help fill any nutritional gaps and we take the Deep Immune leading up to cold and flu season, when we are sick, or when we are dealing with a stressful time.