With flu season around the corner while COVID-19 is still an imminent threat, it is important to assess our lifestyle choices and arm our bodies (and minds!) to be as strong as possible. As Cedars-Sinai medical staff states, "Your immune system works to recognize and identify an infection or injury in the body. This causes an immune response, with the goal of restoring normal function." Though it may be impossible to avoid getting sick, perhaps the duration and severity of our symptoms can be lessened by taking care of ourselves in the healthiest way.
1. Manage Stress in a Healthy Way
Your mindset and ability to manage stress is very important in keeping your immune system strong. Maintaining healthy cortisol levels supports our immune system. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates our metabolism and our immune system response, and has a vital role with how our body adapts to stress. Consider taking up yoga, meditation, or any other activity that helps you stay positive and not overly reactive to stressors.
2. Stay Active and Exercise
Staying active and keeping your weight in check is important for our cardiovascular system and our overall health. If going to a gym is something you aren't comfortable with, look online for a class that interests you and keeps you moving. Mix it up and include cardiovascular/aerobic workouts along with strength training. Eastern mind/body/spirit practices, such as yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, are a fantastic way to move the body in a mindful way that helps us manage stress in addition to strengthening the energy systems within our bodies and minds.
3. Discuss Supplements With Your Doctor
As a wellness ambassador, I typically steer clear of recommending products or supplements, as I feel this is a personal decision based on your own unique, personal needs. I highly recommend making an appointment with your primary care physician or any other type of doctor you prefer (functional medicine doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, etc) and discuss this with them to make a roadmap of how to navigate the best choices for your own unique needs. Also keep in mind that even though supplements are over the counter, they still may have adverse affects and interact with medications. Whereas I love my primary care physician, I wanted to dig deep with a more comprehensive approach to the supplements I take, so I made an appointment with a naturopathic medical doctor, Dr Jillian Smithers, to individualize a plan based on my own needs. I strongly suggest getting routine blood work and determining a course of action together. As Dr Smithers states,
“While taking immune supportive supplements is great, one of the best and most forgotten things that we can do to support our immune system is to get our hormone and vitamin levels checked. Knowing where your vitamin D levels are, for example, is very important when it comes to finding an appropriate dose. Hormone levels, especially cortisol, are also important because of the toll that stress takes on the immune system overall.”
4. Get Your ZZZZ's on and SLEEP!
A 'recovered insomniac' I relate to people who struggle with sleep. For most of my life, sleep evaded me and I was frustrated every time my head hit the pillow. I strongly suggest listening to some deep breathing guidance and practicing behavioral techniques to learn to fall (and stay) asleep in a healthy way with no medications. One of my former City Lifestyle articles, "When Insomnia Strikes", has some excellent sleep tips to support the sleep process and help you gain healthier sleep. I am so passionate about helping people with sleep because I understand firsthand how frustrating and debilitating a lack of sleep affects us.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet and Limit Alcohol
I recommend a healthy diet filled with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods. Limiting carbohydrates, sugars, processed foods, trans fats, and red meats is healthy for inflammation and our immune response. Choose leafy vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, spices (ex. turmeric, garlic, ginger), and select olive oil over butter. Blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, beans, grapes, spinach, and beets are wonderful antioxidant-rich foods to add to your diet. If you choose to consume alcohol, be mindful and maintain healthy limits. Red wine is a good choice in moderation. Eliminate sugary beverages all together as there are no health benefits whatsoever! If you have trouble drinking plain old water, try Hint fruit infused waters to get your daily water intake. With no sugars and natural fruit essences, they do add some pizzazz to your water drinking.
Keeping our minds and bodies healthy is something I speak of quite often. The two go hand in hand and are interrelated. Now more than ever, it is important to pay attention to our lifestyle choices and habits and make healthier choices a part of our everyday lives.
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Email: Susan@stopandbreathe.org, find me on: Instagram, Facebook, or visit my website: StopandBreathe.org