Times are scary and uncertain at the moment, but now is not the time to focus on all the things we can't control. Now is the time to double down on the things we can: our health, our mindset, and our habits.
Which is why today I'm sharing 10 steps you can take to improve all 3, and give your immune system a boost in the process.
Fitness works on numerous fronts to help your immune system. It increases white blood cells, reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and it may help flush bacteria out of the lungs.
2. Replace fear with focus.
Do not spend your days glued to the tv, and scrolling through all the scary articles on social media. Rallying your fear and anxiety is just going to flood your system with cortisol and reduce your body's ability to fight the very thing you're afraid of. Instead, use this time to refocus. Make a list of all the things you say you'd do if you had more time and start doing them. Check in with your priorities and whether or not your life reflects them. Bring purpose to this time and you'll come out on the other side stronger and more resilient.
3. Load up on immune boosting super foods.
Joy and laughter can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. It causes the body to produce its own pain killers. And it increases endorphins and reduces cortisol.
5. Do NOT use food or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Sugar, processed and artificial foods, trans fats and the like stress out your system, raise inflammation, and dampen the immune system. Dairy creates excess mucus in the body. And alcohol specifically increases vulnerability to lung infections.
Instead, try some coping mechanisms that don't cause more harm than good, like calling a therapist, journaling to process your anxieties, meditating, organizing, exercising, taking a bubble bath, etc.
In various studies, meditation has been shown to reduce inflammatory gene expression, slow down the reduction of immune cells in AIDS patients, significantly boost antibodies, and stimulate the parts of the brain responsible for an optimally functioning immune system.
7. Get enough rest.
Lack of sleep reduces infection fighting cells, antibodies, and proteins that are essential for targeting infection and inflammation in the body and signaling an immune response.
8. Stay hydrated.
Water helps carry oxygen to your cells which allows them to function properly while it also helps to carry immune-damaging toxins safely out of the body. Water also helps thin out mucus and increases the volume of lymphatic fluids that are essential for a healthy immune response.
9. Take a break from the news.
On the physiological side, the news and all of its depressing, well, news, is known to spike anxiety and stress leading to an increase in cortisol and a dampened immune system.
On the woo-woo side, energy attracts like energy and the more you focus on the thing you don't want, the more you attract that very thing to you.
10. Get outside if possible (remembering to stay 6 feet away from others), or consider supplementing with vitamin D3.
"In a study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children who took daily vitamin D supplements (1,200 IU) were 40 percent less likely to get a common flu virus than kids who took a placebo. Laboratory studies indicate that the nutrient may help immune cells identify and destroy bacteria and viruses that make us sick, says Adit Ginde, M.D., M.P.H., a public health researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver."
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