In the midst of this global pandemic of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we all are focused on staying home, incessantly washing hands, wearing gloves and masks if we do go out, and protecting ourselves from contracting the deadly virus, BUT our body's natural defense is the most POWERFUL secret weapon in combating and fighting it. The power of our nutrition and our diet is unmatched in fighting disease and strengthening us from the inside. Our 'diets' are more than merely what we eat (what we watch (including all of the daily news), what we listen to, the people we spend time with and let into our mental space). How we nourish ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually affects our overall health...ALL critical components of our mental and physical health.
While bolstering our immunity is easier said than done, there are some dietary and lifestyle changes help strengthen our body's natural defenses and help to fight pathogens and disease causing organisms.
Here are some ways to strengthen your immune system NATURALLY-'Mindful Dieting'
1. GET ENOUGH ZZZZZ'S (SLEEP)
Sleep and immunity are closely connected. Inadequate or poor quality of sleep is linked to high susceptibility of sickness. Infact, in a study of 164 healthy adults, those who slept less than 6 hours of sleep each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept more than 6 hours. Medical professionals recommend that adults get 7 hours or more of sleep each night, teens get 8-10 and younger children and infants get up to 14 hours per night.
Here are 3 tips to help you get more Zzzzs:
Limit screen time an hour before bed, as the blue light from phones, computers and TV disrupts the circadian rhythm of our body's natural wake-sleep cycle.
Sleep in a dark room or wear a sleep mask.
Go to be at the same time each night.
Exercise regularly (my favorite)
2. EAT MORE PLANT FOODS
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that give us an upper hand against harmful pathogens, help decrease inflammation by combating unstable compounds (free radicals). Chronic inflammation is linked to health conditions including heart disease, Alzheimer's and certain cancers and susceptibility to viruses.
The plant fibers in plant foods feed and aid your gut micro-biome (healthy bacteria in your gut and a robust gut micro-biome can improve your immunity and keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract), AND...most importantly with COVID-19 concern, fruits and veggies are
rich in vitamin C, which lower your susceptibility and duration to illnesses, the common cold, flu and viruses.
I have partnered with Juice Plus, the world's most researched products of plant based nutrition, and I offer Nutritional Coaching to help other's in their health journey. It is unrealistic to consume 13 servings of fruits and veggies everyday and Juice Plus offers the BEST solutions ( plant powders and plant based nutrition) providing the gap insurance our bodies need. You can find out more about my monthly nutritional coaching and how to add this nutrition to your diet
3. EAT HEALTHY FATS
Healthy fats like those found in olive oil and salmon boost immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Olive oil is highly anti-inflammatory and is linked to a decrease of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes and its powerful anti-inflammatory properties help our body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, chia seeds fight inflammation as well. These fats naturally combat illness. WIN!
4. LIMIT ADDED SUGARS
Emerging research suggests that added sugars and refined carbs contribute disproportionately to overweight and obesity. Obesity may likewise increase your risk of illness. Curbing your sugar intake decreases inflammation, aids in weight loss and reduces risks of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These weaken your immune system and limiting added sugars is an important part of an immune-boosting diet. Strive to limit your sugar intake to less than 5 % of your daily calories. This equals about 2 tablespoons of sugar in a 2,000 calorie diet.
5. ENGAGE IN MODERATE EXERCISE
Although prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can give it a BOOST. Studies indicate that one session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. Moderate exercise also reduces inflammation and helps immune cells regenerate regularly. My favorite moderate exercises BRISK walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming and hiking. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. I'd love to coach you in fitness and add exercise into your daily routine and can do so virtually HERE.
6. STAY HYDRATED
Hydration doesn't necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health. Dehydration causes headaches and hinders physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications increase your susceptibility to illness. Prevent dehydration by drinking enough water. I aim to drink half of my body weight in ounces daily.
7. MANAGE STRESS
Releiving stress and anxiety is KEY to immune health. In these uncertain times reducing stress and anxiety is one of the MOST important of our priorities to protect our immune systems and overall health. Prolonged psychological stress can suppress the immune systems of children too. Activities to manage stress include mindfulness, meditation, exercise, journaling and yoga.
8. SUPPLEMENT WISELY
Its easy to turn to supplements if you hear claims about their ability to prevent or treat COVID-19, however these are unfounded and untrue. According to the National Institutes of Health theres no evidence to support the use of any supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, some studies indicate that the following supplements strengthen your body's immune response.
Vitamin C-according to a review in over 11,000 people, taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Yet, supplementing did not prevent the cold to begin with (7Trusted Source).
Vitamin D- Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect. Nonetheless, taking vitamin D when you already have adequate levels doesn’t seem to provide extra benefits (31Trusted Source).
Zinc- In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33% (32Trusted Source).
Elderberry- One small review found that elderberry could reduce the symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections, but more research is needed (33Trusted Source).
Echinacea- A study in over 700 people found that those who took echinacea recovered from colds slightly more quickly than those who received a placebo or no treatment, but the difference was insignificant (34Trusted Source).
Garlic- A high quality, 12-week study in 146 people found that supplementing with garlic reduced the incidence of the common cold by about 30%. However, more research is needed (35Trusted Source).
While these supplements demonstrated potential in the studies mentioned above, that doesn’t mean they’re effective against COVID-19.
Laughter iImproves your immune system, really. We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine and it isn't just a quick pick-me-up. It's also good for you long term. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses, relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers, and increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people, improves your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
THE BOTTOM LINE...You can make several lifestyle and dietary changes TODAY to strengthen your immune system. No better time than the present, so lets proactively BOOST our body's natural defense and BOOST our quality of life RIGHT NOW and for many days and years to come.