It is natural to want a quick immune system boost, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, and at the start of a long cold winter with cold and flu concerns.
Unfortunately, internet marketers are out there looking to take your money and hawk their “immune system” boosters. If you’ve been told that you can boost your immune system overnight, sorry to burst your bubble. Our immune system is very complex.
Having said that, here are five tips to help boost your immune system naturally.
Five Steps to Boosting Your Immune System Quickly
1. Pay Off that Sleep Debt.
We know that chronic sleep deprivation affects our mood, increases the risk of certain diseases like heart disease and diabetes, and now, in the age of the corona virus, negatively impacts our immune system. This can be particularly challenging when we experience insomnia due to hormonal shifts during menopause.
Something that you can do today to give your immune system a boost is to try and establish a better sleeping schedule. Start by staying away from your phone or computer before bed! Quality sleep every night helps us maintain a healthy immune system.
2. Practice Good Hygiene.
This is truly a no-brainer in the age of Covid, but frequent handwashing, not touching our faces, and wearing masks will significantly reduce our risk of becoming sick. When you deny harmful pathogens entry into your body in the first place, you will be better off!
3. Stay Active and Manage Stress.
A number of studies suggest that getting moderate exercise on most days can cut the risk of a respiratory infection by as much as 40%. Walking (or jogging or bike riding) can be a great way to get exercise, as well as reduce stress. Be aware that respiratory droplets can travel beyond 6 foot distances, so make sure to keep your mask on if you are in the vicinity of other people.
4. Manage Stress Without Alcohol or Other Substances.
Being lonely, sad, anxious, or depressed can have a significant impact on our mental, as well as our physical health. Many have turned to an extra glass of wine or other recreational substance to manage this stress. Studies show that alcohol affects your sleep quality and has a negative impact on your immune system. If you are struggling with intense emotions, consider reaching out to friends and family, or make a telehealth appointment with your primary care professional or a mental health professional.
5. Emphasize a Balanced Diet.
Many people report being concerned about weight gain during this pandemic and several of my clients admit to restricting their food intake. This is the time to think about adding in foods, rather than taking away!
Our complex immune system relies on specific micronutrients such as Vitamins A, D C, E, B6, and B12, folate, iron, copper and selenium to stay strong. Adding a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meats and other proteins, and dietary fats like avocado and olive oil, can enhance the way our immune system functions.
A recent study in the scientific publication, Nutrients, suggests that supplementation with vitamins C, D and zinc can enhance our immune systems. It is important to point out that many individuals who have spent more time inside due to the Corona virus, might not be getting adequate exposure to sunlight. This is significant because we are able to manufacture our own Vitamin D but only upon exposure to sunlight.
Check in with your doctor, dietitian, or other health practitioner about a safe amount of Vitamin D if you choose to supplement. Excessive amounts of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea and influence your blood sugar readings if you have diabetes. A balanced multiple vitamin and mineral supplement with 100% of the RDA for most micronutrients can be your best bet if you choose to take a supplement.
While it is important to practice these five suggestions, remember that even young and healthy individuals can fall prey to coronavirus or other illnesses. We need to stay vigilant and listen to the public health experts when they tell us to “shelter in place,” wash hands, wear a mask and maintain safe social distancing. Our lives depend on it.
Are You Ready to learn Non-Diet Strategies to Live your BEST Life?
Some of these changes like weight gain around the middle and hot flashes, can be downright confusing and even distressing. Using a “Non-Diet and Intuitive Eating approach”, coupled with some lifestyle changes and a little nutrition knowledge… all of this can go a long way in making this mid-life transition go more smoothly.
This free guide is a weight-inclusive approach that will outline some gentle nutritional steps you can take to feel better in your body as you go through this important time in your life. If you are wondering about ways to reduce your symptoms of menopause through nutrition and how to live your Best Life, grab a copy of this guide today.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
Download our Free Intuitive Eating Guide and get off that Diet Roller Coaster for good!