Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Strengthening our immune systems doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a training process, but our body will
thank us for the care and effort we provided. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keeping in mind having a strong immune system doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never get sick, but if you do, recovery time will be much quicker compared to someone with an under-active, unhealthy system.
Now, more than ever is the time to keep our bodies strong and healthy for ourselves and loved ones. Building a strong immune system is all about making daily, smart, yet simple lifestyle choices.
What Really is Our Immune System Anyways?
Our immune system is at work 24/7, whether we realize it or not. It’s a network of organs, blood cells and proteins operating together to fight off invasive bacteria and pathogens that enter the body. Our bodies have the incredible ability to detect cells as “self” or “non- self” when the immune system is fully functioning. With a suppressed, under active system, our bodies are more susceptible to viruses, infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc. In other words, the immune systems serves as the body’s defense mechanism.
What can we do to help our body build the healthiest immune system we can?
Each and every one of us experiences stress to some degree and that’s NORMAL. It’s most important to identify how we cope with it. Some stress may come from our careers, family life, or sickness. Good news- there is a plethora of ways to naturally manage stress! Here are a few we feel are key:
· Exercising. By moving our bodies, there is a release of “happy” hormones (a.k.a. endorphins) which trigger positive feelings. Exercise can be as simple as a walk in the neighborhood, yoga session or bike ride. There’s no need to hit the gym hard. Although, if you’re a gym guru, by all means keep it up- just be careful not to overdo it. Wearing our bodies out from too much exercise can actually be harmful to our immune systems, not allowing it enough energy to make necessary repairs within the muscles, tissues and cells.
· Healthy eating (more on this below)
· Limiting caffeine consumption
· Regulating screen use of both phone and computer. Decreasing screen time will help put less strain on our eyes, which can induce headaches and cause trouble sleeping.
· Taking vitamins daily
· Writing things down. Making to-do lists are lifesavers- seriously. How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night with something on your mind? Keep a pad of paper next to your bed and immediately write down the thought. Leave it there and come back to it in the morning. In terms of keeping daily life organized, first, get a planner. Make a monthly to do list. Then, to plan the week, make to- do lists on Friday afternoons. By making the list on Friday, we don’t have to think about things over the weekend and if there’s someone you need to connect with before Monday, that gives you time to do so. We’re telling you, to-do lists are the best and wow, crossing off your accomplishments really does make you feel good!
A lack of sleep (less than 6 hours) is bad news for your little immunity warriors. A lack of sleep will make us more susceptible to sickness and recovery time from a virus will be significantly affected. Did you know it’s recommended that the average adult get 7-9 hours of sleep, young children should receive 9-12 hours of sleep and teenagers 8-10 hours? Keeping a routine of waking up at the same time each day and setting a consistent bedtime will ensure adequate sleep. After all, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise!
Eat Real Food and Add More Plants
We know to avoid sugar, processed and fried foods, etc, as harmful bacteria and yeast feast off of sugar. So, what foods should we be actively seeking out at the store?
It’s all about the color! Strive for eating whole, unprocessed, top quality, plant- based foods. Most of the shopping trip will be spent in the produce section, followed by making way around the outer perimeter of the store, avoiding the middle isles of “junk food”.
Some fruits and veggies for immunity include:
· Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, cashews, chia seeds)
· Red Bell Peppers
· Strawberries (Did you know strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges?)
· Citrus Fruits
· Dark Leafy Greens (Kale remains king of the forest!)
Next, add in some nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, oats, and plant based milks. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
While these foods are all immune boosting, they’re going to make our guts happy, too. A happy gut is a healthy body! (A topic for another time, which deserves a whole blog post of its own).
So, we challenge you: how colorful can you make your plate? Have some fun, try new recipes, include the kids in making dinner and teach them the art of smoothie making. You’d be surprised how many different varieties of fruits and veggies you can add to make a flavorful combo. Let us know some of your favorite recipes and what you’re loving these days!
The absolute best way, hands down, to get all the vitamins and minerals we need is through our food, but sometimes that isn’t enough. We can give our bodies an extra boost with natural supplements. If you take a multivitamin, check the label for the following vitamins/supplements:
Melatonin (Before bed)
The supplements can be bought on their own, or often times come in a combo such as calcium magnesium and zinc which makes it an easy way to get in more than one. Also check out are blog on How supplements fight viruses by clicking here.
Strengthening our immune systems doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a training process, but our body will thank us for the care and effort we provided. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keeping in mind having a strong immune system doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never get sick, but if you do, recovery time will be much quicker compared to someone with an underactive, unhealthy system.
Ask yourself: Are you getting enough sleep? How colorful was your lunch today? Are you taking daily supplements? Maybe it’s time to help our systems along in the daily battles against the sneaky pathogens we are exposed to. C’mon, time to make some changes, your body is waiting!