Boost Your Immune System
With COVID being a part of our everyday lives now, we are all trying to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness. We may not have control over everything going on around us, but thankfully, there are things we can do to help keep our immune system functioning well. Here are just a few practical tips that can help you stay healthy.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things for overall health improvement, but good sleep also can boost your immune system. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Make a sleep schedule (go to bed and wake up at the same time each day - even weekends) and stick with it. Avoid technology for at least 1 hour before bed and create a calming routine before hitting the pillow. For example, read a book before bed, drink warm water or tea, or take a relaxing bath. All of these can help prepare you for sleep. Also important - try to avoid eating 1-2 hours before bed; this gives your body time to digest food before resting for the night. Another bonus? Some find that not eating right before bed can ease symptoms of GERD or heartburn.
Reduce Stress Levels
Life is stressful, but finding ways to manage stress is key to not only our mental health but also our physical health. Stress actually weakens our immune system, so reducing our stress levels can promote health and healing as well as reduce the risk of illness. Ways to manage stress include: exercise, socializing with supportive people, limiting exposure to news reports that might cause anxiety, listening to music, and doing other activities that bring you joy. Practicing deep breathing and meditation can be excellent stress relievers and immune-system boosters.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Eating a nutrient-dense diet can improve your body’s ability to fight against disease and illness. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes adequate protein, fiber, fruits, veggies and healthy fats. It's also important to stay hydrated so your body can function properly. Adding fruit to your water is an easy way to add flavor and increase your intake.
Physical activity has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. Regular exercise mobilizes immune cells that guard the body against infection and helps slow the release of stress hormones. Additionally, physical activity may help to move bacteria out of lungs and airways, reducing your chances of catching colds or other illnesses. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
Consider Nutritional Supplements
Taking vitamins and minerals as directed - especially vitamin D, vitamin C, B vitamins and zinc - keep your immune cells functioning well so your body can fight both bacterial and viral infections with greater ease.
Consider adding a probiotic to your routine: 70-80% of our immune cells are located in the lining of the GI tract. So, the strength of our immune system is directly linked to our gut health. Probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) can be helpful for most people. Having a healthy microbiota (more good than bad bacteria in the gut) can help protect us from getting sick. Taking a probiotic supplement and eating prebiotic and probiotic-containing foods, such as apples, leeks, asparagus, yogurt with active live cultures, kimchi and other fermented foods can help keep your immune system strong. Always check with your health care provider to make sure a supplement is safe for you before taking.