Seventy-two percent of Americans stated in a recent survey that they will reach a "breaking point” with stay-at-home orders by mid-June. With over half worried sick, and stress becoming the health epidemic of the 21st century, it’s easy to put self-care on the back burner, weakening immunity. There is good news! It’s not too late to ramp up and recharge your immune system this year and it only takes a few lifestyle changes.
your body from outside intruders, like germs.
But, what does it really mean to ‘strengthen your immune system’? We will explain below in these powerful step-by-step self-care tools that will give you an edge to staying healthy.
IMMUNE SYSTEM AND LIFESTYLE
We can agree that everyone’s lifestyle for the past few months has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 quarantine, making it a struggle for many to commit to a daily workout or eat fresh foods. 70-80% of your immune system is in the gut and our modern lifestyle, stress, diet and overuse of antibiotics are disrupting the gut microbes.
Nutrition has an important role in maintaining proper immune function. A great way to keep the gut in good health is by adding nutrient-rich foods into your diet. This can be accomplished with meal planning and mindfully making good food choices to support immunity. When you head out or Instacart your next shopping trip, try to choose items like:
- Foods rich in zinc such as legumes, nuts, eggs, whole grains. These foods can be easy and delicious additions to your diet.
- Magnesium-rich foods like figs, avocado, banana, spinach, kale and tofu may help you to feel calmer.
- Flaxseed or fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. This is an essential contribution for your body and brain health.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.
- Citrus fruit and red bell peppers are abundant in vitamin C.
- Spices for meals such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cinnamon boasts many anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Antioxidant packed foods like blueberries, artichokes, kale, spinach and even dark chocolate for a mid-week treat.
Soaking up nutrient rich foods is vital. There is also a compelling link between physical activity and long-term immune support benefits to help you remain calm and healthy. We often hear that ‘exercise is medicine’ and during this social distancing time maintaining a workout regimen can still be achievable.
The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.
Take a step in the right direction towards immunity support with online tools like the iPhone Health App; My Fitness Pal; or a Fitbit to clock your steps daily. Challenge yourself to 500 more steps a day than you did the day before or motivate friends by comparing steps. These small adjustments can have large benefits to your overall health mentally and physically.
IMMUNE SYSTEM AND SLEEP
Yes! You can sleep to support immunity.
Good sleep quality is essential to creating an immune response from proteins called Cytokines that target invaders and inflammation. Without sufficient sleep, your body both produces and releases fewer cytokines, causing a double whammy if you skimp on slumber. When it comes to oversleeping, too much of a good thing may have negative side effects like depression. So, what is the magic sleep number?
The National Sleep Foundation released the results of a world-class sleep duration study that took more than two years of research to complete, here are the results:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
For peak health benefits, shoot for 7-8 hours and sleep like a dream knowing that your body is working hard to protect itself during a good night of shut eye (even a short nap may have long-term payoffs). Wink. Wink.
IMMUNE SYSTEM AND BLACK ELDERBERRY*
This tiny berry is actually a super food!
A natural (and delicious) way to support immunity is the powerful elderberry.* Elderberries boast a high concentration of certain flavonoids called anthocyanins, which are responsible for the berry’s signature deep purple color.
IMMUNE SYSTEM AND MINDFULNESS
Do you know what day it is? Are you savoring moments?
When everything feels out of control and stress is elevating, the body goes into a fight or flight mode causing destructive behavior within. Moment-to-moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe through meditation is an incredible way to engage in repairing activities to ease stress and strengthen your immune system.
Tap your way to Zen with these 5 apps that contain guided mindfulness sessions:
1) Calm | A portal to peace of mind.
2) Headspace | A gym membership for the mind.
3) Aura | Three-minute sessions and 30-second anxiety busters.
4) Smiling Mind | A free app with solutions for the whole family.
5) Inscape | Instantly transports its members to tranquility, playlist included!
The more often you practice mindfulness, the easier it will become to stay present and focused. We hope you try these tools to help with overall happiness and most importantly, strengthen your immune system. Sleep, move more, stress less, eat mindfully and live better.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.