Simple Lifestyle Tweaks To Boost Immunity

Simple Lifestyle Tweaks To Boost Immunity

Apr 27, 2020

As the world works to contain the new coronavirus, you may find yourself worried about how to stay healthy. This is a scary and uncertain time, and it’s normal to be concerned. The good news is, you have some control when it comes to boosting your immune system. By making a few simple lifestyle tweaks, you can strengthen your defenses — and your overall well being.

Functional medicine practitioners like myself have been looking at what we know about viruses in general, and making lifestyle recommendations based on that knowledge. Here are some of them.

Focus On Plant-Based Foods

Following a plant-based diet like the Mediterranean Diet is a good way to support healthy immune function. This means eating plenty of:

  • Organic fruits and vegetables
  • Fiber-containing whole foods like lentils and avocados
  • Fermented foods, which promote gut health
  • Spices and herbs, which are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and other nutrients
  • Green tea, which contains an immune-boosting compound called EGCG1

Consuming a wide variety of fresh, organic foods is a good way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs — like immune-regulating polyphenols — to stay healthy and strong. Experts suggest trying to eat 50 different plant-based foods every week.2

As important as what to eat for immune health is what to avoid. Cut these inflammatory ingredients from your diet:

  • Refined/added sugar
  • Excessive salt
  • Processed carbohydrates
  • Saturated fat/trans fats

The way you prepare your food can also affect your immune health. Fried, grilled, and broiled foods can cause more oxidative damage, so try steaming or boiling instead.

Keep Stress In Check

Stress can negatively impact immune function, making you more susceptible to sickness.2
It has been linked to a wide variety of health conditions, including viral illnesses and respiratory problems.2 Stress can even cause wounds to heal more slowly.2

On the other hand, stress reduction has been shown to reduce both the number and severity of infections.2 This means that figuring out ways to keep your stress in check can help support your immune system. Good choices for managing stress include:

  • Meditation/mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi/qigong
  • Breathing exercises

Even something as simple as spending time in your yard can lower stress levels. Studies show gardening can reduce stress while boosting your mood.2

Prioritize Rest

Sleep has a major impact on immune health, and sleep problems like insomnia have been link to disrupted immune function.To support the immune system, experts recommend getting around eight hours of good quality sleep every night.2

Since many of us are having trouble sleeping under current circumstances, try taking these steps to improve sleep hygiene:

  • Maintain a consistent bedtime/wakeup time
  • Turn off screens an hour or two before bedtime
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark
  • Avoid afternoon caffeine and late-night alcohol

Move Your Body

Exercise doesn’t just strengthen your body — it also builds up your immune system. When done on a regular basis, moderate physical activity supports immune health by:2

  • Elevating levels of white blood cells and antibodies that fight infection
  • Increasing circulation
  • Lowering stress hormone levels

There are many free workouts available online that you can do at home, without any fancy equipment. If you’re able to do so safely, a walk outdoors offers the added benefit of fresh air.

Healthy At Home

I hope this information will help you as you work on keeping your immune system strong. Feel free to reach out to us at My Pure MD with questions or concerns during this difficult time.

April 27, 2020