5 EASY TIPS TO IMPROVE IMMUNE HEALTH
To vaccinate or to not vaccinate? How long will it take to build immunity after the vaccine? How long does vaccine immunity last? These questions have been the hot topics of 2020 & 2021. Whether you decide to get the vaccine or not is your business and regardless of your decision we can all benefit from a little immune system enhancement, right? Incorporating these 5 habits into your daily routine can significantly affect how your immune system responds to COVID-19 and other illnesses.
We used to be card carrying members of the Team No Sleep Club and try to function off of 4-5 hours of sleep and Red Bulls. Little did we know that sleep and immunity go hand in hand. Sleep is necessary for cell growth and restoration. Sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system which makes our bodies susceptible to illness and disease. When our bodies are at rest our immune system is able to efficiently target infection and inflammation. Adults should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night and children at least 9 hours. Our family uses a 3-2-1 formula as a guide for achieving high quality sleep each night:
- 3 hours before bed – No more food or alcohol
- 2 hours before bed – No more work-related activities (emails, social media, etc.)
- 1 hour before bed – No more screen time (phones, computers, etc.)
#2 Plant Based Diet
Our gut (Gastrointestinal System) is home to about 70% of our immune system, so it is important to maintain balance in the GI tract. A diet that is primarily centered around plants, avoiding processed foods, and eating foods that contain probiotics (yogurt, kombucha, kimchi) can decrease gut inflammation, which will allow the immune system to function properly. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals (compounds in plants, herbs, nuts, and beans that can protect the body from disease). Following a plant-based diet can also increase your fiber intake, which can promote regular bowel movements and also support the good gut bacteria. A few helpful tips that we use to incorporate more plants into our diet are:
- Increasing fruit & vegetable portions and decreasing animal-based portions with each meal (example: Large green salad with 3 ounces of lean meat)
- Swapping an animal-based ingredient with a plant-based alternative in one weekly meal (example: using jackfruit, mushrooms, or lentils in place of ground meat)
- Going plant-based for one meal, either breakfast, lunch or dinner
#3 Moderate Exercise
There are several theories that suggest exercise improves the immune system. One theory is that physical activity can flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, decreasing the chances of contracting respiratory infections. Exercise can also slow the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones cause inflammation in the body, which weakens the immune system. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), adults need to moderately exercise 150 minutes/week, which can be divided into 30 minutes workouts, 5 times a week. Sounds pretty simple when you break it down like that. Moderate exercise can include a brisk walk (2.5 miles/hour), heavy cleaning (vacuuming, mopping, sweeping), dancing, yoga or Pilates.
Drink Your Water!!! Adequate hydration is necessary for proper bodily functions, including eliminating toxins and waste. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine claim that the adequate daily fluid intake is 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women. Fluid intake varies from person to person and can be modified for things like exercise, environment and various health conditions. Fluid intake doesn’t have to be limited to only water. Including foods in your diet with high water percentages like cucumbers, watermelon and celery can provide a significant boost to your daily intake. Herbal teas like ginger, hibiscus and peppermint have a wide range of health benefits while contributing to your daily fluid intake. A good indicator of adequate hydration is to visually check your urine. Pale yellow or colorless urine is a good sign of proper hydration, while dark colored urine can be a sign of dehydration.
Taking daily supplements can also be beneficial to your immune system. While the body naturally prefers to receive its nutrients from whole food dietary sources, supplements can help fill in the gaps when your diet is lagging. Our family has several supplements in rotation that we use to improve our immune health.
- Vitamin C helps protect against disease and infection
- Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant properties
- Vitamin D helps build the body’s defenses to fight disease
- Probiotics are good bacteria and that help maintain balance in the GI tract
- Ginger is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral
- Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help boost immunity
Our family’s health has benefited tremendously from following these 5 simple tips to improve our immune systems. Hopefully these suggestions will provide you with a guide on how to improve your immune system health. Try adding one of these tips into your daily routine this week. Did you find these tips helpful? Would you like to see more topics on how to boost your overall health and wellbeing? Leave a comment below, we love to hear from you! And always remember, If you can’t get better, be BETTER!!
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