Lifestyle factors play a major role in the health of our immune system. A healthy diet, vital nutrients, stress management, quality sleep, strong social connections, movement all are key aspects of our life that are important to master in order to stay healthy. Right now being faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is incredibly important that we all work to improve our level of health to ensure we win the fight against this virus.
Here are 12 daily practices to help you and your family stay healthy now and moving forward. These suggested extend beyond hand-washing, social distancing, and mask-wearing…things we are all too familiar with at this point.
- Cut out (or at least reduce) your sugar intake.
Increased sugar consumption = increased inflammation in the body = a blunted immune response and development of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.
- Get outside.
Luckily spring is on its way and the outdoor temperatures are much more inviting. Go out for a hike, a run, or a walk. Open and well-ventilated areas will have less viral contamination. Plus, fresh air and being in nature feeds the soul.
- Get some vitamin D.
Low levels of vitamin D can lead to an increased risk of infection, like the common cold. Vitamin D helps activate proteins made near our immune cells that work to fight off bacteria and viruses.
- Exercise regularly.
Did you know that every time you are physically active you are helping enhance your immune system? Unfortunately, the healthy boost is only temporary. Therefore, it is important to establish a regular exercise routine so your immune system can stay strong year-round and decrease your chances of getting sick.
Sleep plays a vital role in overall immune health. Without sufficient sleep, your body produces fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation. The lack of cytokines effectively reduces our immune response.
- Take Vitamin A.
Vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system and resisting infection by protecting the integrity of our mucosal lining (the tissue that lines surfaces like your nasal passages and airways).
- Wipe down and wash all groceries.
Think about it…anything you grab at the store whether it is an apple, a sweet potato, a box of crackers, etc, has likely been touched by numerous people, all of which could be symptomatic or potentially asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.
- Take Zinc.
Zinc increases the production of white blood cells, which fight off infections and assists with the release of antibodies that help target the virus or bacteria for destruction.
Life is stressful. Scroll down for a helpful breathing exercise you can, and should, do regularly to help calm the body. Research has shown a longer out-breath than in-breath can shift our body’s chemicals and put you into a relaxed state.
- Wipe down any packages you have delivered.
Shelter in place helps reduce your exposure to COVID-19. BUT…when you bring something in from the outside, it is important to decontaminate it with disinfectant wipes. Remember to let it fully dry before handling it, as this is when you know the pathogens have been effectively killed.
- Take Vitamin C.
Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration of colds when taken daily. It also supports the body during times of stress. Your adrenal glands are at the center of the body’s response to stress and need more vitamin C than any other organ or tissue to function properly.
- Meditate daily.
Again, life is stressful. We all need to implement daily self-care practices to help us regulate our cortisol levels. Excess cortisol causes inflammation which disrupts our hormones and gut lining. Mindfulness practices such as meditation are a huge part of maintaining optimal health.
Stay safe and healthy out there, and remember, you have the power to boost your own immune health and can take action into your own hands.