There are many things in our environment that are out of our control. So, what can YOU do to stay healthy and boost your immune system?
Avoid Stress – Find Positives
Don’t let it get to you! Focus on what you have, your loved ones, and share compassionate love with others. Stress and depression weaken your immune system. The situation is difficult, but don’t let it get to you. Cutting back on social media could be one remedy. Spend more time with family. There are many online things that you can do like visiting galleries and museums.
Improve your sleep. Researchers have found that short sleepers — those who regularly sleep less than six hours a night — are up to four times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who get more than seven hours of sleep. The risk is even higher when a person sleeps less than five hours a night. Focusing on better sleep habits is a good way to strengthen your immune system and can also help you control and lose weight. The sweet spot for sleep is six to seven hours a night. Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. Avoid screens, night-eating and exercise right before bedtime.
Low and moderate-intensity exercise naturally lowers cortisol levels and helps with immune-system function. We recommend 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. There are plenty of ways (exercises that can be found online) to stay fit at home with no or minimal need for equipment. A mix of cardio, endurance and flexibility enhancing exercise is best. But remember, any exercise and activity is still better than none. If you cannot do that perfect 60 minute workout that you planned, try to do at least 20 mins. It is also important not to go overboard. Extreme exercises can increase the risk of infection, particularly if it is at the cost of sleep.
If you don’t want to spend much time on exercise consider High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. All you need is two square meters of space, your body and a timer. The Tabata protocol for example has proven very beneficial. It consists of four to eight minutes of exercise in total, in intervals of 20 seconds of activity and 10 seconds of rest. You can find many videos about this on YouTube.
Stick to a healthful, balanced diet filled with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough zinc, vitamin D and other important vitamins and minerals. Most experts say you should be able to get enough of these vitamins and minerals through your diet, and extra supplementation isn’t necessary. But it does not hurt and in some cases taking extra vitamins and minerals like zinc, Vitamin C and D is recommended.
While more study is needed on the link between vitamin D and immune health, some research suggests that checking your vitamin D level — and taking a vitamin D supplement — could help your body fight off respiratory illness. Why would vitamin D lower risk for respiratory illness? Our bodies need adequate vitamin D to produce the antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria.
Other vitamins like Vitamin B6 and B12 may also help, try to catch at least 15-20 mins of sunlight or use supplements. Eat some plain yogurt (unsweetened) every day. There is some evidence that it could boost probiotics and help support your microbiome. This helps to support the good bacteria that live in your body, which help to fight bad bacteria or viruses. We also suggest avoiding antibiotics unless you must take them because they deplete the good bacteria in the system, leaving you more vulnerable to other infections. Other foods that can help support the microbiome include garlic, onion, ginger, sauerkraut and fermented foods.
We suggest eating lots of dark green, leafy vegetables and berries, as well as nuts and seeds, and to minimize foods with sugar and transfats (unsaturated fats). Intermittent fasting is still ok, but now may not be the best time to practice heavy dieting which can lead to deficiencies in nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
If possible, avoid sugary foods and highly processed foods, fried foods, and meats. Also reduce alcohol consumption, which can disrupt your sleep and stress your body. And finally, if it isn’t clear already, now is a great time to stop smoking and avoid all vaping.
ChivaCare Health & Medical team with inputs from our network.