New Year’s 2021
It’s been more than a typical challenging year for our health, economy, family life and no matter how you and your family were affected by the COVID-19 crisis, one thing is certain…we’ve had to adapt in an ever-changing world situation. We have been humbled that we are not always in control regardless of our best laid out plans. Despite not seeing the “summit” of this arduous climb, there are some things that will benefit from our personal initiative and action.
As COVID-19 pandemic carries on even with the turn of the calendar year, it continues to leave a confusing array of outcomes in its wake. This has left all of us struggling to understand the factors that contribute to this vast disparity.
One thing seems clear: A strong, balanced immune system can mitigate the effects of any infection. This means that bolstering your immune system may be a key to fending off illness when it strikes—or avoiding it altogether.
Plenty of advice has been circulating on how to boost your immune system but a healthy immune system isn’t necessarily the most aggressive one…. it’s one that’s in balance. A balanced immune system is strong enough to defend against pathogens and pre-cancerous cells but also doesn’t overreact to everything it encounters.
Excess stress, poor sleep, exposure to toxins, excessive alcohol use and a diet with processed foods can all throw the immune system off and contribute to chronic inflammation thereby increasing susceptibility to infection.
The good news is that many of the factors that support overall health also support a well-balanced immune system.
Here are key insights with six things you can do to continue to support your most effective defense to infectious agents.
Regular exercise is one of the keys to supporting immunity. Just 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week reduces the risk of chronic disease and respiratory infections. With exercise, important immune cells are recruited to start circulating in the blood looking for pathogens. In addition, building muscle mass through strength training may also support more robust immune function. Physical activity is the center for wellness. If you’re active, you’ll sleep better, control stress better and tend to be more aware of the food you’re eating. Make the decision to be active and many other things will fall into place.
When lying down and sleeping, the body truly restores and repairs and that includes repairing and creating immune system cells. If you skimp on sleep, you may find yourself short on the ability to fight infection. Studies have found that people who sleep six or fewer hours per night are more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus compared to those who sleep 7-8 hours.
3. Reduce Stress
When we are stressed, we have a spike in our cortisol fight or flight hormone. This directly creates inflammation and suppresses the immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections. Some action steps to take are taking a moment to feel gratitude perhaps before a meal, in the morning or before bedtime. If you used to do yoga but no longer because you’re tired of on-line classes, it’s a good time to reconsider. Even simple breath work like Box Breathing for 3 minutes per day lowers cortisol levels.
4. Eat well
Diet is paramount and perhaps the most important. Foods that weaken the immune system include processed foods and those high in sugar and non-GMO foods that often have glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, that has been linked to cancer and infections. On the flip side, foods rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes support immune function. Some immune system balancing foods to focus on: Green tea, Berries, Garlic, Turmeric, Citrus fruits, Sauerkraut and other fermented food all are rich in compounds that enhance your body’s response to potential infection. Tasty smoothie ideas: Smoothie with Whey Kale Apple, Tasty Chard Celery Avocado Smoothie, Spinach, blueberries, avocado healthy blend blend for your body and your mind.
5. Support the Microbiome
We’ve all heard “you are what you eat” and the healthier the microbiome of our gut, the better our defense will be. There is a key antibody called secretory IGA which plays a critical role in the immune system. But generally, ways to build secretory IGA includes drinking bone broth, eating mushrooms such as reishi (see photos below) supplementing with a high-quality probiotic that includes saccharomyces boulardii (see below) can stimulate natural killer cells in your body important to fight infection.
6. Supplement Wisely
Despite the best diet full of fiber and plants, there is still a lack of nutrients in our food compared to prior generations. Certain supplements can offer support and help reach optimal levels.
Vitamin D 5,000 IU daily: 1 daily – Vitamin D works on multiple levels to enhance the immune system, decrease viral growth and reduces symptoms if you do get infected. If you aren’t sure of your level, have it checked but be aware that optimal levels for the immune system are higher than typical lab reference ranges.
Zinc 30-60 mg daily: 1-2 daily. Zinc is important to the cells that defend against viruses
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC): 1-2 daily. NAC builds the biggest antioxidant glutathione that we have in our body. It actually enhances immune system as well as reduces symptoms if you do get sick.
Probiotic 1 daily: with Lactobacillus and Sacchro B to balance your own immune system.