It's on the top of everyone's minds in the winter months, and now more than ever, we're looking for practical ways to build and support our immune systems. We have some easy ways to make a big impact on your immune system's strength.
PRIORITIZE MENTAL HEALTH + DON'T FEED YOUR FEAR
Stress is stress, take steps to reduce it. Stay informed but unplug as needed. I know this can be a hard balance, but a good way to do it is check WHO and CDC once or twice a day while unplugging from the social media flow and 24 hour news.
According to the University of Minnesota, fear can greatly impact well being both physically & mentally.
Impact of Chronic Fear - Living under constant threat has serious health consequences.
- Physical health. Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated aging and even premature death.
- Memory. Fear can impair formation of long-term memories and cause damage to certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. This can make it even more difficult to regulate fear and can leave a person anxious most of the time.
- Brain processing and reactivity. Fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, reflect before acting, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. All of these effects can leave us unable to act appropriately.
- Mental Health. Other consequences of long-term fear include fatigue, clinical depression, and PSTD.
EAT CLEAN + WHOLE
Your diet should be high in fruits and vegetables, as they are the main source of phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins in your diet. These nutrients are critical for building a strong immune system. A whole food diet will include organic sprouted or soaked legumes and ancient grains. Many health care professionals, including myself, recommend you soak them, or buy them sprouted or fermented. It is necessary to soak un-sprouted legumes and grains to break down the phytic acid which helps your body digest them more easily and correctly for proper absorption. This, in turn, will alleviate many of the gastrointestinal issues you might otherwise experience when eating legumes and some grains. It is also important to consume some healthy fats and lean grass-fed and pastures raised meats if you are not a vegan or vegetarian.
Water is necessary for every chemical reaction in the body. It regulates your body temperature. It is the lubricant for joints, organs and sensitive tissues, including the spinal cord and eyes. Water also protects them. It is essential for detoxing your body of toxic waste. It aids in digestion and nutrient absorption. Water helps prevent constipation and helps with weight loss. It improves blood oxygen circulation and helps fight off illnesses, such as viruses and bacterial infections. Water helps improve mood by keeping you hydrated, so you have less fatigue and confusion that leads to anxiety. It helps promote collagen production, and enhances your skin’s health.
SLEEP + REST
Your body needs rest to not only rebuild and restore itself, but to deal with the daily stresses and strains of life. Without rest your body cannot recharge itself, heal, or build. Rest is a main component of having a healthy immune system and healthy brain.
Movement and exercise throughout the day helps detoxify your body and release feel-good hormones. It is necessary for mental health as well. Many health studies confirm the benefits for improved mental health with exercise and movement.
AVOID OR MODERATE ALCOHOL
That means no more than 5 oz per day for woman and 8 oz per day for men according to many health sites and professionals. We know, in a time like this people want to believe alcohol is a friend. But it suppresses your immune system and exasperates anxiety. If your immune system is compromised, refrain from all alcohol until you are well. Alcohol is hard on the liver when it is working overtime on other health issues going on in your body.
If you're looking for which supplements will actually boost your immune system check out the this list recommended by Dr. Jill Carnahan (internationally acclaimed functional physician), as well as recommendations on healthline.com and webmd.com.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine: Needed to make antioxidants and yields a significant increase in immune function.
- Liposomal Glutathione: Is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage.
- Vitamin D3: Plays a crucial role in modulating immune system function.
- Buffered C Powder or Ester C with Bioflavonoids: Is a key antioxidant that plays an integral role in proper immune function and is a powerful infection fighter.
- Probiotics: Maintaining the right balance of beneficial gut flora is critical considering your immune cells reside in your gut.
- SPM Active: These pro-resolving mediators can help manage any inflammation or fever.
- Virastat: A combination of nutrients and botanical extracts that pack a powerful punch when it comes to helping your immune system eliminate pathogens.
- Vitamin A: Helps keep your mucous barriers healthy, which trap bad bacteria and other infectious agents. It is involved in the production and function of white blood cells, which help capture and clear bacteria and other pathogens from your bloodstream.
- Garlic: Its sulfuric compounds— powerful enough to wipe out bacteria and infection. It boost some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses. It is known as the Russian penicillin.
I truly believe if we take the necessary precautions recommended by the professionals, such as washing our hands frequently, avoiding areas of known contamination when possible, staying home when feeling ill and keeping our thoughts and attitudes in the positive and out of fear we will make it through this crisis.
The keys to health are having a happy positive outlook on life, eating a healthy whole foods and plant rich diet, living a healthy lifestyle of movement, outside if possible, rest, sunshine, and meditation or prayer. Also, having a community of family and friends you are connected to and involved with. Celebrate more and worry less.