Boost Your Immune System
How are you doing these days? Feeling an added layer of stress due to working from home, job insecurity or loss, children at home that need an education, projects at home that are piling up, isolation from family and friends, the inability to take a stroll down the Target aisles for fun? We are all in the same boat. What I want you to know is that you're not alone and here are some tips to help you survive and reduce your cortisol levels at the same time....
News flash: the biggest drains on our immune system are stress, aging, poor nutrition, lack of proper rest and lack of exercise. With everything going on right now we are all at risk for additional stress in our lives. So the issue becomes how do we build our immune systems to adequately deal with this added stress? Nowadays, people tend to look for the answer in pill form. Some swear by Echinacea and ginseng, but studies on both are inconclusive. Like anything else worthwhile, some work is involved.
1. Try Some Stress-Relieving Activities
Stress-relieving activities are more important than ever for good health. These include such things as meditation, exercise, spending time with friends (digitally of course), coloring/drawing, listening to music, and taking time off from work.
Taking the pressure off the immune system helps it build up. There are some great apps like Calm and Breathe that can help you with relaxation techniques. A Zoom happy hour every now and then doesn't hurt either! Exercise together by trying a free Yoga class or dance class - many businesses are offering a free month now!
Taking the time for self-care is increasingly challenging now that parents have the added stress of kids at home and elderly family members to look out for. Keeping kids entertained while keeping up with their schoolwork and our own work can be challenging. The best thing we can do is remind ourselves we are all doing the best we can. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew with massive "To-Do" lists and high expectations of home renovation and spring cleaning or mastering that recipe that your friend posted on Instagram. If you can tackle one task a week you will be ahead of most, but don't add to your plate by expecting a daily routine of knocking down that list. It just sets everyone up for failure. Instead, try to breathe...discuss expectations with your household and just do your best. We are all adjusting to a new norm.
In other words, take time to reflect on what is truly important, staying safe and healthy while protecting your loved ones.
2. Get More Sleep
Adequate sleep recharges your immune system, and most people don’t get enough nowadays. I know I have lost sleep out of fear and anxiety and I'm sure I'm not alone. Our kids are feeling the effects of less sleep as schedules have been disrupted. Bedtime routines have fallen by the wayside, but my kids are still up at 6:00AM! Time to get back into a routine so I can get more sleep!
Elderly people have problems with sleep too, but for different reasons. Dr. Janet McElhaney, a geriatrician at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, says that elderly bodies tend to cool down too early in the morning, awakening them at around 3 a.m. "We recommend that older people not turn down their thermostats at night, or [to] use electric blankets or take a hot bath at night," she says. Who knew?
3. Eat Right and Take Your Vitamins
Writing for www.123relax.com, Carrie Angus M.D. strongly recommends whole, fresh foods. “Fruits, vegetables, and grains have a very strengthening effect on our immune function,” she says. “So strong is this correlation, in fact, that the National Institutes of Health have developed a Designer Foods Program to study the cancer-preventing effects of cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower). Fresh foods not only carry a diverse mixture of vitamins and trace minerals absent from most processed foods, they also have vitality.”
Older people also have more difficulty getting all the nutrients they need. McElhaney says protein is of particular concern, which has a direct effect on the blood cells in the body that fight infection. Taking a multivitamin in addition to beefing up protein intake can really make a difference.
Good nutrition does not mean more food—quite the contrary. Losing weight can help build immunity, according to a study by Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. When a group of adults with high cholesterol lost weight on a low-fat diet, most also showed evidence of improved immune function.
Probiotics are a great way to boost your immune system by promoting a healthy digestive tract. These are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria.
And water, let's not forget to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated promotes cardiovascular health, keeps muscles and joints working, and helps cleanse toxins from your body. Staying hydrated also helps balance your blood sugar, helps relieve headaches, and promotes healthy skin. We all want to look good for that next Zoom happy hour now, right?
May You Keep Healthy & Safe & Sane!