Things feel scary and uncertain right now, I know – but now is the time to take care of yourself and build a foundation of good habits that will protect your health and wellbeing right now and in the long term.
In the midst of the covid-19 crisis, people are looking for quick fixes and immune boosters. The truth is, there is no quick fix. Balancing your immune system in order for it to successfully protect you from viruses, bacteria and parasites is a long game of optimising your nutrition, sleep and stress management.
Continue reading for 11 things I do on a daily basis in order to maintain a strong and healthy immune system.
You probably already know that keeping your immune system healthy is crucial for warding off viruses, infections and keeping little issues from becoming big problems. But did you know that your immune system closely connected to your gut health? You might not realise just how much of an impact certain foods and drinks can have on it. You have the power to make positive choices that will help keep your immune system in excellent shape—and your diet is one of the best places to start.
1. Stay Hydrated
I’m sure you are already aware that keeping well-hydrated (with water!) is imperative to your health. Doing so will help keep your lungs moist and mucus flowing (yum), clearing the lungs of gunk that can collect and create conditions for opportunistic infections, like coronavirus to thrive.
2. Eat Your Vitamins
Food. It keeps us going, nourishes our bodies and when we do it right, acts as health-supportive medicine. Think of your food as your edible medicine cabinet. Your gut microbiome – bacteria that live in your gut, make-up 70% of your immune system. Feed the good bacteria and they will protect you, feed the bad and your health will suffer.
Frontload your system with green veggies containing phytonutrients and fibre that make your good belly bacteria thrive, keeping your immune system strong. Add some spinach to your breakfast, salad to your dinner and kale to your lunch. If you’re into smoothies, make sure to add some greens to your smoothies as well.
Vegetables are the foundation of a nourishing diet and provide many immune-supporting nutrients such as vitamin C. You should aim for at least 8 servings of vegetables a day and 2 servings of fruit.
3. Eat lots garlic, ginger, spices and pre-biotics
Garlic, onions, radishes, leeks, asparagus, artichokes and tomatoes all contain fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, strengthening your microbiome and your immune system. Not to mention garlic and onions boast wide-spectrum antimicrobial properties that protect you from infections (also great for making sure people keep their distance ;-))
4. Quit the sugar & junk food.
You've heard me say this before and I will say it again, sugar sucks! Studies have shown spikes in sugar suppress your immune system. When your immune system is compromised, you are more likely to get sick. If you consume a lot of foods and drinks high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, which the body processes as sugar, you may be reducing your body’s ability to ward off disease.
Next time you reach for junk food, realise that you are not only affecting your weight and appearance, but you’re letting down your resistance to bacteria, viruses and parasites.
5. Quit The Booze
Ever notice that you tend to get ill when you go a little too hard on the liquor? It’s not all in your head – alcohol impairs the function of your immune system, leaving it more susceptible to foreign invaders and infections. What’s more drinking alcohol affects your hormones and disrupts your sleep cycle, which is also closely connected to immune function.
6. Limit inflammation-inducing foods such as gluten, dairy and red meat.
Much like sugar, gluten sucks. Gluten is a protein which is extremely difficult to digest for everyone, not just for those with a diagnosed gluten sensitivity. As it passes through your system it triggers the production of a protein called “zonulin”, which breaks down the cells of your intestinal walls. This gives toxins, food particles and other harmful substances free reign to get into your bloodstream, causing an unwanted immune response and inflammation, leading to a weakened immune system.
7. Sleep Soundly
Make sleep a priority and shoot for 7-8 hours a night to give your body the time it fully needs to rest, repair and refresh. Poor sleep reduces infection-fighting antibodies, lowering your body’s ability to fight off infection.
Limit your blue light exposure by option for a book instead of scrolling on your phone or watching TV.
Applying our Hibiscus & Pomegranate Face Mask and taking a warm bath is also a great way to wind down, relax and prepare your body for a good night’s rest.
If you have a hard time falling asleep, consider taking a supplement before crawling into bed. Melatonin and magnesium glycinate have been proven to promote good sleep and relaxation.
Chronic stress torpedoes your immunity, so make sure to find the time to unwind. One of the easiest ways to de-stress is to meditate. Add a few moments of yoga at the start of your day for extra relaxation.
9. Soak Up The Sunshine
Go for a walk in the sunshine to soak up that natural light whenever possible. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to anxiety and depression. Natural sunlight will lift your spirits and improve your overall health, plus walking is great for your cardiovascular fitness.
10. Call A Friend
Humans are social animals and having a social support system is a must when it comes to our mental health and managing feelings of anxiousness. Jump on a video call with your family and friends to maintain social interaction and keep yourself from losing your marbles during isolation.
11. Move More
Keep moving; stream a new workout class, do some yoga, or go for a run. Exercise is important to keep your immune system humming and stress levels under control. Just don’t overdo it, as going too hard can have the opposite effect.