6 At-Home Immune Boosting TipsMar 28, 2022
It is important now more than ever to take care of ourselves and support our body for optimal immune support. Here are some of Tribe’s top tips for making that happen at home without needing to buy anything (except food.)
1) Reduce Inflammatory Foods
Our immune system thrives when we provide it with proper nutrition. This means we give it what it needs and we reduce or eliminate foods that wear it down. So what exactly is eating for immune health? One thing to take into account is making sure that we are not making anything harder on our body than it needs to be. A good way to do this is by knocking out foods that cause inflammation. Inflammation is a process in the body caused by a reaction to something foreign or something, such as food, that leads to the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. It’s sort of like having a fire happening on the inside of your body and it reduces our immune system’s functioning substantially. Some foods that are known to cause an inflammatory response are processed sugar, processed and grain-fed meats, packaged or fake food such as what you would find in the isles of a gas station, dairy, corn, alcohol, and gluten for some people. By reducing these foods and focusing more on real, whole foods you can boost your immune system’s workload so that it is ready to take on any foreign microbes (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and/or fungi) that may come its way!
2) Eat a Variety of Colorful and Nutrient-Dense Foods
Another factor to consider is making sure our body has all of the vital nutrients and minerals it needs to not only be functional, but also perform optimally. Foods that are high in vitamins and minerals are called “nutrient-dense” foods. One of the most well-known go-to vitamins in an immune crisis is our good friend, vitamin C. Luckily, high contents of vitamin C are not just found in oranges! Broccoli, kiwis, bell peppers, strawberries, cauliflower, and potatoes all contain higher than your average doses.
Vitamin C has a lot of wonderful properties including immune support, but it is not the only vitamin that has an impact on fighting off harmful microbes. Colorful fruits and veggies do too! Packed with bioflavonoids and minerals that are essential for immune function, introducing more fruit and vegetables into your meals are the perfect way to ensure you are getting all of your nutrient needs met. One of my favorite phrases is to “eat the rainbow,” which means you are eating different foods with a variety of colors from purple eggplants to yellow peppers and leafy greens!
It is so important to include foods rich in vitamins and minerals in your diet because many of them depend on each other for their functioning. For example, vitamin D is imperative for proper immune function, but its availability to be used by our body is impacted directly by zinc, calcium, and magnesium. Zinc itself has very strong anti-viral capabilities and I recommend it often in supplemental form. Foods high in zinc include grass-fed beef, lentils, hemp and pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, lamb, and cocoa powder.
I can not stress this one enough. Getting proper sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. So many of us throw sleep hygiene to the wayside and consider it more of a novelty than a necessity. That thinking is detrimental to our health. Without proper rest, all of our bodily functions slow down and become less productive, including our ability to fight off infection. No amount of supplementation can replace the value of an excellent night’s sleep.
I know that this can be a lot to ask sometimes and may seem almost impossible in certain situations, but stress, especially long-term stress, has multiple negative and highly impactful effects on our body’s immune responses. One thing to make note of is that stress is not just psychological (ex: feeling overwhelmed at work); stress can be physiological and physical (ex: over-exercising) as well.
At a cellular level, chronic stress causes the body to induce a systemic, low-grade inflammation that in turn actually suppresses our immune system. This is why it is so important to develop relaxation practices and implement them on a regular basis. Meditation, yoga, walking in nature, gardening, deep breathing exercises, and listening to and reading inspirational quotes/passages are all ways to provide our body with time to recalibrate and get back to baseline. Find a practice that works for your stress and commit to doing it daily.
I like the term “movement” rather than “exercise” because sometimes the latter is subconsciously associated with overexertion or high intensity. Those types of movements have their place but sometimes can be detrimental to our immune system if we are trying to boost it acutely. A moderate movement routine enhances immune function, reduces stress, and helps with a good night’s sleep. Movement is anything from walking to weight lifting, swimming to biking, karate to yoga. Movement is an umbrella term for being active and is an important part of immune boosting and ensuring mental health harmony.
For at-home movement, I recommend daily walks or bike rides around your neighborhood, yoga, or body-weight workouts. There are so many amazing options online that you don’t have to leave your home for a great movement routine.
Laughter engages your diaphragm and switches you into your parasympathetic nervous system where your immune system is allowed to thrive. Laughter not only releases endorphins, our feel good hormones, which make us happy, is also has a positive effect on multiple health markers such as blood pressure and heart rate. In addition to that, it has been shown to boost many aspects of the immune system such as Helper T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, and many other parts of our immune system that fight bacteria and viruses. So whether it is a game, a movie, or any other activity you choose to engage in, choose something that will result in laughter.
I recommend focusing on fun games and funny movies and shows rather than stress-inducing entertainment while trying to boost your immunity.
There are so many amazing things you can do to boost your immune system. Know that your body is intelligent and the best thing you can do is reduce inflammatory foods, eat colorful and nutritious food, slow down, sleep well, move your body, and be happy and laugh.
Sending you health during this time!
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