Life comes at us fast, and because of this it can be hard to remember the importance of self-care. When we throw our need to ensure our own health to the wayside, this leaves the door wide open to feel under the weather, whether it’s simply not feeling like yourself or becoming sick. So, how can you ensure that you are keeping healthy while tackling all of the other components life sends your way?
If you’re looking for ways to boost your immune system and keep yourself in good health (especially during these crazy times!), try some of these tactics to ensure you stay in tip-top condition.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the key elements in keeping your immune system strong. Multiple studies have shown that those who get 6 hours or more of sleep each night are less likely to get sick. Ever wonder why you want/need to sleep so much when you’re not feeling well? That’s your immune system requiring more energy from you in order to fight the illness. So, try and hit the hay at reasonable times so your immune system can keep up the good work. Having trouble sleeping? Try some of these techniques.
Maintain Healthy Eating Habits
Add/increase whole plant foods into your diet such as fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and legumes. The antioxidants and nutrients contained in these foods can help fight off inflammation caused by free radicals that can cause heart disease and certain cancers, and may reduce the duration of the common cold. Also, healthy fats like those found in salmon or olive oil can also help reduce inflammation, and reducing added sugars is also a great way to buff up your immune system.
NOTE: There is no proven data to show these foods reduce risk/impact of COVID-19.
Studies indicate that even one session of this type of exercise can increase the impact of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. Further, making this part of your lifestyle can reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. Go for a walk or run, get the bicycle out of the garage, go for a swim if you have access to a private pool, or get out and hike if spaces are open and not too crowded.
While not directly tied to how your immune system functions, water is vital to ensuring physical performance, reducing headaches, and improving focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. If these elements are not operating properly, it can lead to increased susceptibility to illness. A good rule of thumb is drink when you’re thirsty, stop when you’re not, and drink enough so your urine is pale yellow (potential TMI, but also valid information!).
Keep Stress Low
If you have a job that is notorious for causing a higher amount of stress, or have a lifestyle that is fast-paced, remember to step back and relax for a few minutes each day. Long-term high stress can cause inflammation and creates imbalances in immune cell function. If you’re experiencing high levels of stress due to daily life or larger-than-life global events, try some of these strategies to keep calm and carry on.
If you’re concerned about your own immune health, the following may help support the general function of your system: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Elderberry, Echinacea, Garlic. Some studies have revealed that probiotics have an impact on gut function and beyond.
NOTE: there is no evidence to support the idea that these items help reduce risk/impact of COVID-19.
Staying healthy is a major part of our lives, and often it’s put on the back burner so we can continue with daily projects and jobs, but it should never be flat out ignored. Running on empty (both physically and mentally), poor diet choices and dehydration can all contribute to a lowered immune system. Following just a few of the above recommendations can improve not just your biological wellbeing, but also bring improved mental and emotional states, too! Stay healthy out there.