As we forge through battling a global pandemic – with flu season on the rise – you may be feeling a bit defeated when it comes to what you should be doing to stay healthy. And while diligent hand-washing, social distancing and wearing masks while out in public can arm you with some protection against the virus according to the CDC, we have to wonder: can we be doing more?
Seeing as though our immune system helps protect the body against infection, we’re always looking into ways we can keep our immune systems strong and working in tip-top shape. That’s why this week on the Vibrant Health blog we spoke with a number of local health and wellness experts to learn their go-to tips and tricks to boost your immune health this winter season. Here’s what they had to say!
- Prioritize Healthy Sleep Habits & Relaxation
- Keep Emotional Stress Levels to a Minimum
- Stock Your Kitchen with Immune-Boosting Superfoods
- Be Mindful of Your Sugar Intake
- Be Consistent with Your Meals
- Give Your Wellness Cabinet a Makeover
- Don’t Forget About Self Care
Prioritize Healthy Sleep Habits & Relaxation
Are you getting enough sleep? We’ve said it and we’ll say it again: prioritizing sleep is crucial for your wellness. In fact, studies show that improving sleep habits can even support optimal function of the immune system.
It’s no wonder why practicing self-care in the form of relaxation, stress management, and sleep is a nonnegotiable for Registered Nurse & Certified Holistic Health Coach Kristen Reed. “If we are always in a heightened fight or flight mode and running on empty not getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, our immune systems will weaken sooner than later,” she says. “It’s so important, especially during cold and flu season in the middle of a pandemic, to focus on caring for our bodies on a fundamental level, every day with self care.”
Certified Health Coach, Yoga Instructor and future RD Kerri Axelrod concurs that setting up a strong foundation is a must – and that starts with good sleep. “Studies show that people who don’t get quality or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, and lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick,” Kerri says. “If you’re struggling with sleep, creating a strong sleep hygiene routine in the evening and eliminating caffeine past 12:00pm will help your nervous system relax before bed.”
Keep Emotional Stress Levels to a Minimum
While you’re working on improving your sleep regime, you’ll also want to find ways to cope with stress. We know that stress can play a toll on our health – and studies have shown psychological stress can wreak havoc on our immune health.
That’s why Chiropractic Physician Dr. Nicholas Damato says it’s vital to keep your emotional stress levels to a minimum this season. “Whether this be through exercise, meditation, or massage…stress taxes your adrenal glands which can lead to decreased immunity and higher instances of illness,” he says.
Stock Your Kitchen with Immune-Boosting Superfoods
If you’re looking to give your immune system a healthy boost, you may want to first look to your kitchen. That’s right: it starts with your diet.
This season, fill your fridge and pantry up with immune-boosting superfoods like broccoli, mushrooms, honey, leafy greens, citrus fruits and garlic. One heart-warming combo Wellness Expert & Acupuncturist Aimee Raupp always has on hand: bone broth with mushrooms and greens.
Be Mindful of Your Sugar Intake
While you’re giving your kitchen a healthy makeover, you may also want to clear out any foods that aren’t supporting your health – and we hate to break it to you but that starts with sugar.
Dr. Nicholas Damato recommends cutting back on the sweet stuff this season. “Decreased sugar intake and clean eating are huge factors when boosting immune function,” Damato says. “By eating just 100 grams of sugar, your white blood cell count is decreased by 40% which disables your immune system for four to five hours!” If you’ve got a sweet tooth and have a hard time cutting back, here are some simple health hacks to help you beat sugar cravings this winter.
Be Consistent with Your Meals
One tip that may help you make healthier choices (and support your immune health) is keeping a consistent routine.
Registered Dietitian and owner of The Nourished Life, LLC Jennifer Braun says being consistent with your meals – and meal times – is key. “Focusing on portion sizes and eating consistently every three to four hours, instead of restricting certain foods and eating randomly throughout the day, allows your body to stress less and build up your immune system,” she says.
Give Your Wellness Cabinet a Makeover
Have you been taking your vitamins? It may be time to give your wellness cabinet a mini makeover, ensuring that your supplements and vitamins are made with quality ingredients and support your unique, individual needs.
Here are Vibrant Health, we’re a big fan of probiotics – like our Green Vibrance plant-based superfood powder for digestive and immune support – as well as supplementing with Vitamin D3 to help protect against acute respiratory tract infections. Aimee Raupp’s personal winter wellness go-tos to stock up on? Vitamin d and elderberry syrup!
It’s always best to talk with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle. Reach out to your provider with any questions and come up with a game plan that works for you!
Don’t Forget About Self Care
At the end of the day, you’ve got to take care of yourself. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Our Product Educator at Vibrant Health, Jodi Schneider puts it perfectly: “Immunity goes back to…getting good quality sleep, physical activity, making time for self-care, spending time with friends and family, and laughing often,” she says. “All these simple daily activities are the foundation to supporting our bodies natural immune defenses.”
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended as a substitute for advice provided by a competent health care professional. You should not use this information in diagnosing or treating a health problem. No claim or opinion in this blog is intended to be, nor should be construed to be medical advice. If you are now taking any drugs, prescribed or not, or have a medical condition, please consult a competent physician who is aware of herb/drug interactions before taking any herbal supplements. The information presented herein has not been evaluated by the FDA or the Department of Health and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, cure, mitigate or treat any disease or illness.