Boost Your Immunity!
With a lot of unknowns and anxiety-levels at an all-time high, finding ways to create control in our lives can be crucial! One way to empower yourself is how you fuel your body and immunity during this chaotic time!
Let Food Be Your Medicine!
· Eat a whole foods, nutrient-dense diet. Our immune system relies on nutrient-dense whole foods to function well. Death from infections in the developing world is often not due to the infection itself but the body’s inability to fight it because of nutrient deficiencies. Since more than 90% of Americans are deficient in one or more nutrients at the minimum dose to prevent deficiency diseases like scurvy and rickets, we all need to focus on improving the quality of our diet.
· Cut out sugar and refined starches. Now has never been a better time for a sugar and junk food detox. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingesting. Limiting starch and sugar will help your immune system function better and your overall health improves.
· Ensure adequate protein intake. While most Americans eat adequate amounts of protein, some do not such as the elderly and vegan populations. Protein is critical for immune function and protein malnutrition is a big risk factor for death from infections.
· Add garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of spices (oregano, turmeric, rosemary) to your meals! Add these to your soups and vegetable dishes, as well as bean dips and sauces. Garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties.
· Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes and squashes. Aim for 2 servings of fruits and 8 or more servings of vegetables! A serving is half a cup.
· Eat fermented foods to support your microbiome and immunity. Eat sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, miso, tempeh, unsweetened yogurt, kefir. They also keep well.
· Alkalize your body. Sugar and processed foods tend to make your body slightly more acidic. Eating whole plant foods and lots of them, is a good way to alkalinize your body. Try making big vegetable and bone broth soups which can help improve your pH.
· Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids. Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including the immune system. Make soups and broths, drink herbal teas like ginger and turmeric tea, and keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages!
· Get sufficient sleep! Sleep is when our bodies recover and restore! Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier. Aim for seven to eight hours a night.
· Get regular exercise. Mild to moderate exercise helps boost the immune system. Shoot for 30 minutes a day! And exercise doesn’t have to be crushing heavy weights; a run, a walk, a bike ride, a dance off, cleaning, gardening, stretching, yoga, swimming, etc all count as movement!!!
· Practice meditation and yoga. The data are clear. Increased levels of stress increase susceptibility to viral infections. If meditation isn’t your thing, put YOUR twist on it - do yoga, take hot baths, do deep breathing, practice home massage with your loved ones, take 5 minutes a morning to think of positive or happy things, have a coffee by yourself and watch the sunrise – create your own meditation custom to YOU!
· Start a garden. If you live in an area with a lawn or some access to land, grow some of your own food! Veggies and herbs not your thing? Try planting colorful plants instead! Gardening is not only exercise, but it can be very relaxing as well, and you are adding color and nature to your environment. Don’t have a green thumb, look in to low-maintenance plants, like succulents for example!
· Zinc Citrate: You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune-supporting nutrient. Seafood—especially oysters—red meat, and pumpkin seeds are the best food sources. Take 30 mg per day.
· Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a major barrier against pathogens and integral to the immune system. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5-10 billion organisms per capsule. Lactobacillus plantarum and spore forms of Bacillus are the best for immunity.
· Fish Oil (Arctic Cod Liver Oil): This old-time remedy for good health and robust immunity still stands true! In addition to the good fats, this cod liver oil contains additional vitamins A and D for added immune protection.
· Natural anti-viral herbs: Many herbs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects or immune-enhancing effects. Formulas contain different immune boosters such as astragalus, green tea extract, andrographis, and monolaurin.
· Mushroom Extracts such as reishi, maitake, shiitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps: These provide immune-supporting properties. Cooking with medicinal mushrooms like shiitake is also helpful.
While incorporating ALL of these bullet points into your daily lifestyle would be fantastic, it can also be overwhelming (which is NOT what we are trying to do here!) So know that baby steps are still progress! Take 1 or a handful of these items and SLOWLY start incorporating them in to your day to day, let them slowly add up - remember, it's not an overnight event! It's a process, a journey! Go at YOUR pace. :)