It is September, and with kids going back to school, and with the colder weather coming that means more close contact indoors with others. One of the best things that we can do to prevent COVID-19 or any other illness is to boost our own immune system.
Here are 10 things you can do right now that will help boost your immune system.
1) Get Enough Sleep
Research indicates that sleep and immunity are closely tied. Getting enough sleep may strengthen your natural immunity. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, teens need more (9-10 hours), and younger children and infants may need up to 14 hours per night. Even though our “normal” routines have been drastically changed, still try to stick with going to bed and getting up at the same times daily. It helps to keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool.
2) Limit the Intake of Sugars in Your Diet
As I mentioned in a previous blog too much dietary sugar can lead to inflammation in the body which can weaken the immune system. Too much sugar can also contribute to obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease all of which can suppress the immune system. Lowering your intake of sugar may decrease your risk of developing these conditions.
3) Maintain Proper Hydration
Staying hydrated helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that may cause illness. Dehydration can directly affect heart and kidney function which can increase your susceptibility to illness. Proper hydration helps: regulate body temperature, relieve fever, digestion and absorption of nutrients, clean airways and improve breathing, improve blood volume and oxygen flow. One way to tell if you are properly hydrated is that your urine will be very light in color.
4) Reduce Stress
Stress increases heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, adrenaline, cortisol, and free radicals. All of these internal reactions to stress compromise our immune system function. Some activities that may help manage your stress include: meditation, yoga, reading, writing, or my personal favorite stress buster – Exercise.
5) Moderate Exercise
Research shows that daily moderate exercise can boost your immune system function, and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. I say moderate exercise because prolonged intense exercise has been shown to temporarily suppress the immune system. Some moderate exercises to consider are hiking, cycling, yoga and walking.
6) Eat More Whole Plant Foods
Whole plants foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable free radicals. Whole plant foods are also high in fiber which feed your gut microbiome (healthy bacteria in your gut). A healthy gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body through your digestive tract.
7) Eat More Healthy Fats
Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and salmon, may boost your immune system by decreasing inflammation. Olive oil, which is highly anti-inflammatory is linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and chia seeds, help fight inflammation as well.
8) Eat More Fermented Foods and/or add a Probiotic Supplement
As stated earlier, gut health and immunity are deeply interconnected. Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are all rich in beneficial bacteria called probiotics which populate your digestive tract. Research suggests that this good gut bacteria can help your immune cells identify and target harmful pathogens. Pickled beets are my personal favorite fermented food.
Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improves your resistance to disease. Laughter has its own list of health benefits: lowers blood pressure, boosts T cells, triggers the release of endorphins, and a produces a sense of general well-being. Maybe try watching the Comedy Channel tonight instead of the News.
10) Add Immune System Boosting Supplements
There are all kinds of herbs and supplements that can enhance immunity. Garlic, milk thistle, ginseng, green tea, black cumin and licorice are just a few of the herbs that have been reported to have immune boosting benefits. Here are a few of my other top recommended supplements.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is perhaps the most popular supplement taken to protect against infection due to its important role in immune health. This vitamin supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It’s also necessary for cellular death, which helps keep your immune system healthy by clearing out old cells and replacing them with new ones. Supplemental daily doses typically range between 250 and 1,000 mg.
B Vitamins: including B12 and B6, are important for healthy immune response. Yet, many adults are deficient in them, which may negatively affect immune health.
Curcumin is the main active compound in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and animal studies indicate that it may help improve immune function.
Echinacea is a genus of plants in the daisy family. Certain species have been shown to improve immune health and may have antiviral effects against several respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus and rhinoviruses.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient essential to the health and functioning of your immune system. Vitamin D enhances the pathogen fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages — white blood cells that are important parts of your immune defense — and decreases inflammation, which helps promote immune response. Depending on blood levels, anywhere between 1,000 and 4,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D per day is sufficient for most people.
Before adding any supplement- please check with your physician and or pharmacist, to be sure there will be no drug interactions with any medications that you already be taking.
If you have any questions about this blog, or about your health in general, feel free to reach me at: [email protected]