Wendy Handy

Wendy Handy

7 Ways to Boost your Immune System

Just in time for the winter season and with it comes, colds and flus. I wanted to share 7 ways you can boost your immune system so you can give yourself the best chance to stay healthy!   These minor lifestyle and dietary changes, will help keep your immune system strong.   

Try these 7 ways to help boost your immune system.  Add these minor lifestyle and dietary changes and give yourself a fighting chance this season!

Get enough Sleep
Eat Whole Foods
Eat Healthy Fats Daily
Stay Hydrated
Moderate Exercise
Manage Stress

As we roll into the winter season, it’s important to boost your natural defenses to stay healthy.  It’s easy to say and sometimes not as easy to do, but with some dietary changes and some lifestyle changes, it is possible to strengthen your body’s natural defense. 


1.  You’ve heard me say this one before from me but it’s so so important and worth talking about again.   Get enough sleep…and quality sleep!  Getting enough sleep may help strengthen your natural immunity because while you sleep, that’s when your body gets to work to repair itself, and that includes your skin 😉  .   Adults should strive to get between 7 and 9  hours per night.  Everyone is different but 7 is the minimum and some need as much as 9.  And quality is important which includes sleeping in a completely dark room.  If you’re super sensitive to light, It can be helpful to add a sleep mask to help keep the light out.  Limiting your TV and device screen time, 30 minutes prior to going to bed can also help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Blue light stimulates your brain.  You can also use blue blocking glasses to help and set your phone on low light setting.    Exercise can also help  you get quality sleep but not too close to bedtime, that can actually keep you awake! 


2.  Eating more whole foods.   Clean whole foods like organic fruits and vegetables, along with nuts, seeds and legumes are rich in antioxidants.  When possible, organic is important.  Eating harmful pesticides can build up and cause all kinds of issues.  Antioxidants that come from these whole foods can also help decrease inflammation by combating free radicals. Free radicals can cause inflammation by building up in your body.   It’s commonly known that chronic inflammation is linked to so many dis-eases that include heart disease, Alzheimer’s and some cancers - just to name a few.     Fiber is also important and the fiber that it’s these plant foods feeds your gut microbiome - healthy bacteria -  which is directly connected to your immune system.   In fact there is data that suggest that 85% of your immune system is in your gut. 


3.  Eat more healthy fats daily.  Healthy fats such as olive oil, salmon, avocado, can help boost your immune systems response to pathogens again by helping decrease inflammation.  Chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system by placing undue stress on it while it tries to fight the inflammation.  This is why it’s been said that inflammation causes many many of the everyday diseases we face each year.   Olive oil is highly anti-inflammatory plus may help the body fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.   This is why it’s a staple in the Mediterranean Diet - which is recommended for cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s and dementia   Inflammation of the brain is widely considered a primary cause of the disease. Omega 3 fat found in fish like salmon and hemp and chia seeds is also known to fight inflammation. 


4.  Hydration, hydration, hydration!!   This is so critical for so many reasons and doesn’t really protect you from germs or viruses but is important to organ function, like kidney and heart.  When there is undo stress on any part of the body or organs, that affects the immune system in doing it’s job:  fighting bacteria and viruses.   It also aids in digestion and if you get dehydrated, it can cause headaches or make you cranky!   This all causes stress!   I’ve said this one before, but as a general rule, you should drink 1/2 your body weight in oz per day - more if you live in hotter climates or work out! 


5.  Exercise is crucial to keeping your immune system working optimally!  That is to say, moderate exercise which can give your immune system a boost, while prolonged intense exercise can actually suppress your immune system!  Moderate exercise like a brisk walk - may also reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate on a regular basis.   Generally you should aim for 30 min 5 days a week.  Examples of moderate exercise:  brisk walk, jogging, biking, swimming - which is easy on your joints if you have issues with your joints and hiking to name just a few. 


6.  Manage stress.  This is another one that is good just for overall general health.  Long term stress actually promotes inflammation which in turn can cause imbalances in immune cell function!   There is always going to be stress in your life, keeping it at bay or minimizing or managing it, is crucial.   Some activities if you don’t already do these, can help manage the stress.   Try meditation, there are many apps and programs out there if you have a challenge meditating, like I do.   It takes practice.  Exercise can also help, along with yoga and journaling! 


7.  Supplements.  So this one a lot of people think they know how to supplement and yet there is so much room to grow for a lot of us.  Some of the supplements that can help keep your immune system strong are:


            -  Vitamin C - most people benefit from 1000 - 2000 mg per day during winter

            -  Vitamin D - this is one that you might have checked before adding - Taking too      much can be detrimental. An optimum level is 50-60

            -  Zinc - in general 75 mg per day works well for most

            -  Elderberry

            - Echinacea -

            - Garlic

            - a good probiotic!   This is good all the time to keep your gut healthy. 


The bottom line there are several small changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle that can help strengthen your immune system and keep it fighting off the nasties during the winter.  Stay hydrated, eat more whole foods - fruits and vegetables (organic when possible), get enough sleep, exercise moderately and manage your stress!   Give yourself the very best chance to stave off colds, viruses and the flu this winter season. 

During this time of year, tends to bring on over indulgence and bad habits.   Enjoy the holiday parties and festivities, but limit your sugar, alcohol and junk food.   And make sure to keep moving even if it's just a brisk 30 min walk 3-5 days a week.   Come January, you'll be glad you did!   Stay healthy!  


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