The key to a boosting your immune system is living a lifestyle of good-for-you behaviors. When you take care of yourself, your immune system will take care of you.
As a first line of defense for your body to fight off infection and illnesses, your immune system requires some TLC. It’s a complex system of cells, tissues and organs including your digestive system, skin, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the thin membrane tissues inside the nose, throat and genitals. Basically it plays a prominent role in your entire body.
Taking action today, will help ensure your tomorrows are healthy and happy. Wondering where to start? Here are 6 ways you can boost your immune system.
Eat More Whole Plant-Based Foods
When it comes to supporting your immune system, plant based foods will always serve you well. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber…all the things that keep your body healthy, happy and operating at an optimal level.
The antioxidants found in plant-based foods will go to work gathering up the excess free radicals floating throughout your body. Free radicals are a very normal part of our body’s make-up. And although we naturally have antioxidants in our body to balance out free radicals, their availability decreases as we age. If left unchecked, these free radicals can wreck havoc on our systems, building up to the point of chronic inflammation which leads to numerous health conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases, heart disease, alzheimer’s to certain cancers. That makes it even more imperative that we increase the amount of antioxidants we take in through our food.
In addition, plant-based foods will add a great deal of fiber to your diet. This makes the members of your gut flora (your microbiome) do the happy dance. Fiber feeds the healthy bacteria found in your gut, meaning they thrive, keeping the unhealthy bacteria to a low roar. When your gut is out of balance, your unhealthy gut bacteria are thriving…leaving you with the feeling of bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Not so fun!
Focusing on eating more plant based foods supports your gut which supports your immune system, lowering inflammation and improving your overall health.
Cut Back on Sugar and Processed Foods
Sugar. Ahhh…we all love the short-lived sweet sensation of a treat, but the long term effects of having too much sugar in our diet significantly increases not only your weight, but also the chance to develop Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. All three of these conditions weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds, flu and infections.
Did you know there are over 56 different names for the types of “sugar” you’ll find in processed foods? Looking at the ingredient list for just SUGAR may leave you with a false sense of security. Stick to whole, real, natural sugars, (i.e. maple syrup, honey, date paste, etc.) if you find you find yourself in need of a sugar source. Have an urge for something sweet? Reach for some fresh fruit and add a couple of nuts in as well. And above all, try to limit your intake to 5% of your daily calories (i.e. 2 tablespoons or 25 grams in a 2,000 calorie diet),
Water has a starring role in many of your body’s functions, especially the immune system. Keeping your cells hydrated with water allows them to operate at an optimal level.
Water helps carry oxygen to your body’s cells, remove toxins from the body, aids in digestion and helps the body produce lymph fluid which is a critical component in the lymphatic system working properly. It also helps keep your eyes, mouth and skin properly hydrated, which is critical because these are points of entry for fighting off invaders.
Be sure you’re drinking adequate water each day.
Make Movement Part of Your Everyday
Being on stay-at-home orders does not mean we shouldn’t be moving our bodies on a daily basis. Engaging in regular exercise is an important part of supporting a healthy immune system. As little as 20 minutes of daily moderate exercise has been shown to boost the effectiveness of your immune system.
Not only will it improve immune function, it will also decrease inflammation, reduce stress, brighten your mood, keep your muscles strong and your joints fluid. It’s safe to say, regular exercise can have a profound affect on your health!
When you exercise, your sympathetic nervous system gets activated. This triggers a rise in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, all of which boosts your body’s circulation. This enhanced circulation enables immune cells to travel more easily through your body, doing what they do best, enhancing the immune function.
Catch Plenty of Zzzz’s
Sleep is all too often over-rated. Once upon-a-time, I was guilty of believing that myself. However, I’ve come to learn nothing can be farther than the truth. When you sleep, your body kicks into over-drive. That is, it goes into maintenance and repair mode.
Research shows that sleep improves and strengthens immune cells, in particular, the T cells. These T cells are critical for fighting against intracellular pathogens. When your body lacks sleep, the effectiveness of your immune cells decreases and other hormones (such as stress hormones) remain high, potentially further inhibiting the function of T cells.
At a minimum, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. That is a baseline number. Some people find they need much more, especially if they are battling chronic inflammation. It’s important to learn what your body needs and take steps to get there if it struggles to stay asleep through the night.
Did you know that 60%-80% of doctor’s office visits are due to chronic, unmanaged stress? Symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, heartburn, stomaches, anxiety, depression, etc. are just some of what sends people to the doctor’s office.
While stress is a natural part of our everyday lives (and our body was created to handle it in a fight or flight situation), stress that is ongoing can wreck havoc on our health. When your body is stressed long-term, it depresses the immune system’s ability to function properly, leaving you more vulnerable to colds, flu and infection.
High levels of stress can also lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation left unchecked not only causes you to age faster, it also increases your risks of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few.
Some ways to combat stress include: meditation, exercise, yoga, talking with a trusted confidant, deep breathing and journaling. Keep in mind what works for one, might not work for another. It’s important to find what works best for your stress levels and do that.
Supporting your immune system looks like living a lifestyle full of good-for-you behaviors. Make each of the above a priority and you’ll start to notice how good you can feel in life. Additionally, you can feel good knowing you’ve increased your odds for fighting off or at least decreasing the severity of any colds, flus and infections that might come your way.
Focus on plant-based foods for optimal intake of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber
Reduce your sugar intake
Stay properly hydrated
Move on a regular basis for at least 20 minutes per session
Get adequate sleep each night
Manage your stress levels
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
Did you know every time you go in to see your doctor about a symptom there are two paths or mindsets you can choose from in terms of taking care of your health? For years, many of us haven’t given it a second thought, but times are changing and so is our health. As the rates for cancer, autoimmune, diabetes, memory loss, pancreatitis, arthritis, and so much more continue to rise, we have to take action. It’s time to make some changes.
Over the years, we’ve all become accustomed to a ‘have an ill, take a pill’ mindset.
On this path you seek out whatever pill will take care of your symptom, be it over-the-counter or prescribed. The problem with this mindset is you’re only taking care of symptoms. At the end of the day, you’re still left with the unknown root cause lying within you. What does this mean? The pill you take will help alleviate symptoms for a short while. But not long after going off them, inevitably, your symptoms will come back. Think about how often you have a headache and reach for an Advil or Aleve. Did you know sometime headaches can be caused by lack of hydration, stress, lack of sleep, certain foods, skipped meals, etc.? If your first action is to reach for the ibuprofen, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to take care of the root cause that driving your headache. And this leaves you open to the potential of having bigger problems down the road.
Does that Mean I’m Anti-Medicine? No.
All that said, I want to be clear and state that I’m not anti-medicine. I believe medicine serves a vital purpose in our health care. The problem is, we as a society have become conditioned to wanting everything fixed quickly and choose to reach for the medicine cabinet first before taking a step back to look at our lifestyle. Often there are changes we can make there first and foremost. In many cases, when we reach for the pill first, we‘re essentially masking the problem, making it harder in the long run to discover the true issue. With this mindset, we take medicine, then many times find we have new problems creep up that develops as a side effect to the medicines we take! So you see it starts a vicious cycle of trying to take care of symptoms instead of taking care of the root cause. How many of you are on nine, ten, eleven different daily medicines? Friends, there is a better way!!
Enter the PILL and SKILL mindset. Here you take an active role to learn more about what YOU can do to improve your health.
While doctors work to help make us feel better, ultimately, the responsibility for our health falls on each of our own shoulders. While in a lot of cases there’s a true need for medicine, especially acute care, often there are other things we can do ourselves to improve our health. What if, instead of asking your doctor “Do you have a pill for that?” you say “is there a skill I can learn to improve my health?” More often than not, there is! While taking the time to look at your lifestyle can seem daunting at first, its usually the best place to start. Most of us already know the things we need to change, we just get caught up in the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.
This is where I come in as a health coach
So many people struggle with excess inflammation in their lives, leading to achy joints, stomach issues, added weight, eczema/skin irritations, high blood pressure and cholesterol, trouble sleeping and so. much. more. This is the first layer…the ‘signs’ that your body is trying to get your attention. Left unchecked, you may find yourself with a more serious diagnosis. Friends, we live pro-inflammatory lifestyles. We don’t move as much as we should, drink enough water as our body needs, we rely on processed, fast food, sleep just a little, then get up and start all over again.
Maybe you’re already in a place where your doctor has told you to make changes in your lifestyle or maybe you’re tired of being tired, achy and sleepless and you’re ready to do something about it. If either of these describe where you’re at, keep reading!
Many have found transitioning to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle has been a game changer for their ‘itisis’. By making changes that reduce the inflammation in their body, they regain control and get back to living life! I have a huge heart and passion for helping others who are ready to do the work so they can achieve the same freedom and get back to living life to it’s fullest! In my practice, I work with clients who want to achieve a more vibrant, healthy life. They may or may not already know they things they want to change. I walk alongside them in the process helping discover areas for improvement, uncover their strengths, help set goals and hold each accountable along the way. As they start to find success in achieving small goals, the big end-goal seems less daunting and transformation starts happening.
Are You Ready for a Fresh Mindset?
Which mindset do you have in your health journey? If you’re a pills and skills mindset, keep doing you and spread the news! If you’re in the pill-for-an-ill camp, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The great majority of us have been going along with the flow. It’s only as we’re getting sicker and sicker that we started to question some things. And now that I know better, I want to make sure others know better. Are you ready to take charge of your health? To enjoy the freedom that comes from living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? What’s one change you can make this week to start your journey? Don’t know where to start… Let’s talk!