Now that restrictions are being lifted, and we are venturing out into public and interacting with more people, it’s important to make sure you are controlling the things you can control when it comes to our immunity. While we can’t take into account other’s decisions when it comes to basic hygiene and social distancing practices, we can make sure we are doing everything in our power to boost our immune system as it prepares to function near red line. Some things are more obvious than others, but here we’ll cover the basics and the secrets when it comes to our immune systems.
Focusing on whole foods will provide your body with the nourishing micronutrients it needs. Whole foods contain most of the vitamins and minerals our body needs to stay healthy and continue to fight for us. Whole foods look like proteins, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, — all those good things that can be found on the outside perimeter of the grocery store. Try to stay away from processed foods with empty calories and no nutrition value. We’re trying to give our body things it can use to help fight for you, and those types of foods provide no value.
It goes without saying that those in better health will be able to fend for themselves easier. The better body fat percentages we can maintain, generally the “healthier” we are. Maintaining optimal body composition will place less stress and internal inflammation on the system, and therefore your body will be able to allocate it’s resources more readily when needed. While the purpose of this post is not to spew data numbers, and this virus has indeed affected healthy people — as Mark Rippetoe said a number of years ago, “Stronger people are harder to kill.”
With a dedication to focusing on whole foods and less processed, sugar ladened foods, you will be doing yourself a favour by working towards an optimal body composition also. Less strain on the system, more resources available for when your body needs them.
It’s a term loosely tossed around lately, but it does pack itself a punch when it comes to things like your immune system. Foods with pre- and probiotics are important right now, and these typically look like bananas, yogurt, or sauerkraut. This also comes in capsule form, but when we search out whole food forms, we also get the micronutrients along with it, so, more bang for your buck.
It’s imperative that we continue to move. Over the last few months without access to the gym, this has looked very different for many different people. While some took the opportunity to workout at home with equipment rented from the gym, others found more solace in outdoor activities as the days got nicer. No matter what exercise looks like for you, we have to move. Exercise is a great way to deal with stress, and it has many immune boosting side effects also.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
At first, everyone dealt with their stress of the changing situation with alcohol. It was easier to put back a bottle of wine – myself included – than it ever was before. And as the weather gets nicer, and we’re allowed to interact more, the social pressures of alcohol consumption continue to rise. Stay strong though – substitute a club soda with some flavour instead, or at the very minimum, moderate that alcohol intake. One glass, instead of a couple, and every other day or once per week, instead of everyday. While there’s unclear research on the effects of alcohol on immunity, there is clear evidence on alcohol and overall health. And we know with good health, our immunity increases. Keep those drinks to a minimum while you enjoy the company.
Sleep is always the most common struggle for our clients. Sleep is so important because this is where all the good stuff — the recovery — happens within our body. Our hormones get to do what they need to do, our muscles repair, our brains get a rest. It’s the best time for your body to rebuild and prepare for the next day it will face. Try to average at least 7 hours per night of sleep. The more sleep you can get, the better. And it’s not just about quantity of sleep either — quality is just as important. We want to try and maintain our sleep throughout the night. It’s 7 hours of consistent sleep, not accumulated sleep!
This one goes without saying. As our stress increases, more cortisol is dumped into our system, and this has a direct compromising effect on our immunity. Alongside sleep, this will also be the most commonly struggled piece of the puzzle. Adapting to the current situation is hard – normal doesn’t seem so easy anymore. So while more demand is being placed on us, it’s important to take that time for yourself to help moderate your stress levels. Allocate some time in your day to get outside and go for a walk. Leave your phone at home. Spend some time with a loved one doing something you both enjoy. Take 5 minutes out of your day to just sit with yourself. Try using the Headspace app, or writing in a journal.
There are many different methods people use for stress management, and you’re going to need to find something that works for you. When you find it, you’ll know. That “at peace” feeling becomes very apparent. And if you haven’t found it yet, keep trying.
What’s In Your Control
The main point of all of this is that these things are all within our control. Whether we contract the virus or not, that’s out of our control. What other people are doing when you’re out and about, that’s out of our control. Wearing masks and gloves and whatnot – while those steps certainly have their positives – are just one means to stopping it.
The by-product of focusing on all of the tips above? You’re also forming habits that will help you far long past these Covid times. The quarantine only gives you the boost you need, but should not be your only reason for working on these things!