Amid COVID-19 concerns, prioritize a healthy immune system
With the COVID-19 virus on everyone's mind, it makes sense to support healthy immune function. There are plenty of things we can all do in addition to washing our hands and practicing social distancing.
Common colds and the seasonal flu are still floating around right now as well, so staying healthy should be a priority. Although you might not be able to completely avoid getting sick, maintaining a resilient immune system may lessen the severity and duration of the illness.
The following tips are natural ways to boost your immune system and overall health:
• Cut out offensive foods. Inflammation is a natural response to getting sick or injured. Your immune system sends inflammatory cells to the region they're needed to attack and repair the compromised area. But, if you're eating foods you're intolerant to, your immune system may go on the attack every time you consume these foods. Besides causing added stress in the body, your immune system stays compromised for longer periods of time, which decreases the effectiveness of daily maintenance.
• Add more nutrients. Micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, magnesium, as well as vitamin C and vitamin D, all have immunity-boosting powers. Foods such as ginger, bee pollen and many fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which all aid in supporting a healthy immune system. Even adding lemon juice to your water can help alkalize the pH of your body and support healthy bacteria while making it difficult for acid-loving pathogens to thrive.
• Improve your sleep. We all know how important sleep is to our mental health, but our body uses this time to repair and recover from daily wear and tear. A lack of sleep can lead to immune system suppression by increasing inflammation and decreasing the amount of disease fighting cells in our bodies.
• Ensure proper detox. If your body isn't eliminating everyday toxins from the food you eat or the air you breathe, you'll have a hard time fighting off a bug. Proper detox begins with a healthy digestive system and adequate hydration sets the stage for efficient elimination. If you eat nonorganic meats or if you had a recent dose of antibiotics, it's a good idea to supplement with a quality probiotic to restore gut flora. This will aid in efficient digestion and keep things moving along properly.
• Maintain an exercise program. Exercise has numerous benefits, but one that is often overlooked is the ability of muscle contractions to help drain the lymphatic system. The lymph system is a channel for toxins to be excreted from the body and a pathway for immune cells to travel where they are needed. Consistent muscle contractions drive the healthy flow of the lymph system.
• Laugh and enjoy life. Obviously laughter seems to reduce stress in our lives, but it may also boost immune function. Studies have shown that laughter boosts natural killer cells that attack anything from infectious cells to tumor cells. Laughter will boost your body's ability to destroy toxic cells and therefore lesson your chance for disease.
So take a few simple steps each day to give your immune system a fighting chance. For more health and nutrition tips, visit PushFitnessTraining.com for links to our blog and social media resources.
• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.