We’re boosting our immunity and asking you to join us!
There are a lot of questions right now about how we can stay healthy and keep our immune system strong. Staying healthy is important for all of us, and keeping our immune system running smoothly throughout the year can be done simply and practically! We want to remember though that supporting our immune system means supporting other systems, as well. The systems in our bodies are not separate from each other, so taking a holistic and practical approach is the best way to do it. Check out our 10 ways to stay healthy!
One of the most practical things we can do to support overall health is as simple as making sure we have protein, fat, and fibre at every meal. Why that combination? When we make sure we have a balance of protein, fat, and fibre, we slow the absorption of glucose into our bloodstream. Why should we care about that? Have you experienced being “hangry”? You know, that combination of being both hungry and angry? This happens because something you ate caused a spike in blood sugar, a big release of insulin, and then plummeting blood sugar, leaving our body needing energy, quick! This has a major impact on our health, with insulin resistance being the root of a lot of issues we suffer from. It can also impact our immune system. If we can balance our blood sugar by combining protein, fat, and fibre at our meals, we can avoid insulin resistance, which will have a positive impact on our overall health, as well as immunity.
We know we’re supposed to eat our fruits and veggies, and that they provide benefits like fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, when we eat our veggies, we need to make sure to be looking at eating the rainbow. The different colours in our vegetables give us different phytonutrients which are key micronutrients for our health as well. With a spectrum of nutrients from lycopene (found in red fruits and veggies), a potent antioxidant, to allicin(found in garlic), an immune booster, we will be supporting many key pathways that will support overall health by eating different colours. Mix up the colours of the fruits and veggies you eat, and aim for 5 one-cup servings every day!
Our gut plays a huge part in our health, including mental health, our ability to absorb nutrients, and immune system support. The lining in our gut can actually produce antibodies, proteins made by the body to help stop intruders. Keeping our gut health running well is key to our immune health, and we can do that by eating more fermented foods. There are some delicious options like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir (which is available in dairy and nondairy options), yogurt, and kombucha. Start including these every day to help support the gut!
Sugar has a big impact on our overall health. While indulging occasionally doesn’t have a big impact on our health, consuming large amounts daily will. Sugar can lead to issues like inflammation and insulin resistance, both of which can have an impact on our overall health and our immunity. Sugar itself can also lower the immune system, making this something that we want to keep for treats, and not an everyday occurrence. If you’re trying to stay healthy, limit or eliminate your sugar intake.
Vitamins keep our bodies running smoothly, and deficiencies can show up in a variety of ways. Low vitamin D can affect mood; low vitamin C can lead to scurvy; and low B12 can lead to low energy and neurological issues. Quite a few of these vitamins also contribute to our immune health. Taking vitamins is one thing, but we also want to make sure our gut health is optimal to absorb what we need from our food—see point number 3 😊. We can also use green powders in smoothies to boost our vitamin intake. Making sure we’re getting enough is key, and right now, looking to get enough vitamin C and vitamin D is important to keep our immune system functioning optimally. We can supplement as well to make sure that we are getting enough!
The other nutrients that keep our bodies going are minerals. Different from vitamins in how they function, they are equally as important and needed. Minerals like zinc help boost our immune system while others like magnesium do over 300 functions in the body. We can get our minerals from fresh veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, and using a greens powder. You can also supplement with minerals to make sure you’re getting enough and keeping your body functioning optimally.
Herbs are powerhouses when it comes to supporting our immune health and they can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Using herbs like fresh ginger and garlic will make your food tasty as well as boost your immunity. There’s also a variety of medicinal herbs that will help keep you from getting sick, including astragalus, echinacea, andrographis, and oil of oregano. There are some herbs that we can look at as immune foundation builders, like astragalus or different medicinal mushrooms such as reishi or chaga. They are something to take daily, while others, like echinacea and oil of oregano are great for when you’re starting to feel sick. They can help to stop the cold or flu from progressing or lessen the severity and duration of the sickness. Both options are good to have on hand to keep yourself healthy.
Another set of plants, adaptogens help us adapt to stress. They can help lower cortisol, calm the mind, and can give a slight boost in energy. Stress plays a big part in our overall health and immune system. These plants can help us deal with stress better so that we are not releasing too much cortisol into our system, which can cause immune issues as well as chronic inflammation and sleep issues. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi are great for both boosting our immunity and helping to reduce stress. There are also herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and holy basil that help us to adapt to or lower cortisol.
Taking time to move our body every day is important. And it doesn’t have to be intense—something as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease risk and blood pressure. It will also get circulation going, and that can help move those antibodies and white blood cells around which helps with overall health as well as with fighting off infections. Keep in mind that too much exercise can start to suppress the immune system as it is more stress on the body. Rest days are important for boosting immunity, especially for distance athletes who train over 90 minutes a day.
We live in a stressful world. From our jobs, families, and the news around us, we are bombarded on all sides at all times. When this happens and we get overwhelmed, stress can start to impair our immune system and our ability to fight off antigens. The stress hormone corticosteroid slows down the immune system, making it easier for us to get sick.
So, what can we do about our stress? Stress is always going to be present—we can’t avoid it. But we can control how we react to it. When we are stressed, we are in our sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as fight, flight or freeze. To help reduce the effects of this, we want to move into our parasympathetic nervous system, also know as rest and digest. How do we do that? Breathing exercises and meditation are both great ways to reset your nervous system and move into parasympathetic mode. There are a variety of apps out there for breathing exercises and meditation. Basically, anything that helps us feel calm and peaceful is useful at helping our bodies cope with stress response. It could be painting, walking, or reading a book, but choosing to do that “thing” that relaxes us will help our nervous system to calm down, and to release less of the hormones that inhibit the immune system.
These 10 practical tips for staying healthy are going to support daily health, even when not in the midst of a crisis. Building a stronger foundation of health will support our immunity as it supports other body systems.
Try some of these tips and see what works. This is about progress and not perfection. Pick something that is new and try it out. Maybe it’s going for a nice walk or trying out medicinal mushrooms that will be key in improving overall health. Whichever you choose, being proactive will help in the long run with maintaining overall health and immunity!