7 Tips to Enhance Your Immune System
While many of you are being asked to keep physical distance and to maintain good hygiene and hand washing in order to slow the spread of Covid-19 virus, less is said about how you can support your immune system to better protect yourself. The immune system is the first line of defense against invading pathogens. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your immune system and to maintain health and wellness during these difficult times.
There is evidence that in the hours following exercise, there is a heightened state of the immune system and that regular exercise slows aging of the immune system. Exercise decreases your chances of developing heart disease (one of the high risk factors for serious illness from Covid-19 virus). Many of you are staying at home to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, and gyms are closed, but there are many ways to exercise in the confines of your home. There are many online classes you can search for, such as yoga classes, warm up routines, and cardio. You can do sit ups, push ups, and jumping jacks Get outside for a walk when you can.
So much of your immune system comes from the sleep you get. It is recommended you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Aspects of your emotional health come from REM sleep (the part of sleep where you dream). Some medications, alcohol and marijuana use can cause sleep disturbances. Long term lack of sleep can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Good sleep hygiene can help increase your likelihood of having a great night’s sleep.
From one perspective, everyone, everything is trying to consume the sun. Through exposure to sunlight, your body makes vitamin D, which has been linked to a strong immune system, and to respiratory health. A little bit of sunlight goes a long way. Get out in the sun when you can.
Much of your immune system comes from the gut flora and gut health. Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chee, and tempeh provide good bacteria to your digestive system.
Eat Vegetables & Fruit
You get essential vitamins, nutrients, and phytonutrients from food. Garlic, ginger, citrus, bell peppers, broccoli, turmeric, blueberries are all nutrient dense foods that will help you maintain your gut health and a healthy immune system.
Vitamin C and zinc are two supplements that can help keep your immune system healthy and strong. Foods high in zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, some vegetables, and dark chocolate. Medicinal mushrooms have been shown to support the immune system and to have anticancer immunological effects in particular. I recommend these companies for purchasing potent mushroom blends to support immunity.
Finding a source of strength in the face of the unknown is challenging in the best of times. It is natural to feel a variety of intense emotions during this unsettling time, including fear, anger, anxiety, worry, and grief. Stress causes your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) to activate, so utilizing techniques to calm the nervous system and convert to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) is a vital aspect for stress reduction. Now is the time to add stress reduction techniques into your daily routine: yoga, Qigong, meditation and breathing exercises help you manage stress and can give your mind a break. There are free apps that have guided meditations such as Insight Timer, among others.
Now is the time to incorporate these changes into your life to support your immune system and to enhance your preventive care. For an individualized approach to identifying your specific needs and to devise a personal health plan for enhancing your immune system, contact me for a free consultation or for telehealth consultations.
Sandy Camper, M.Ac., L.Ac.
Diplomate in Acupuncture