The end of summer means a lot of things are right around the corner, apple & pumpkin picking, cooler temperatures, warmer clothes and the potential to catch a cold or two. As the weather begins to turn we can become more susceptible to illness. Taking steps to boost your immunity now, when the weather is still warm, can help your body to remain well through the fall and winter seasons. Following some of these simple steps can put you on a path towards a more balanced life, and in turn a more balanced immune system.
It’s almost a no brainer, give your body real, whole food and watch it flourish. Having a balanced diet ensures that your body is receiving all of the nutrients it needs to thrive. While there are still very few studies on the impact nutrition has on the immune system in humans, there are studies that show that micronutrient deficiencies do, in fact, impact immune function in other animals (Harvard Health). Our modern diet affords a lot of opportunity for nutritional gaps. The idea behind supplementation is that it fills in those gaps. Being mindful of the nutrient density of your food, and familiarizing yourself with what you might be lacking in micronutrients will make it easier for you to pinpoint where you may need supplementation in your diet.
At this point I think that everyone is familiar with how exercise improves overall health. It improves cardiovascular function, and circulation, which allows cells to do their job more efficiently. As important as it is to exercise and get your body moving, it is just as important to allow your body to rest and recover between workouts. This gives your body critical time to rebuild its reserves and heal the muscles that you’ve broken down. Exercise also serves as an outlet to relieve stress- something that, if left unchecked, can lead to other serious issues.
Our modern world is full of stressors- work, family, financial, personal relationships- all of which can become overwhelming. While we know that stress has an adverse impact on wellbeing and quality of life, it is difficult to measure in a scientific setting just how much impact stress has on your immunity. There are simply too many variables. What we do know is that stress can lead to some pretty serious health problems if left unchecked- anxiety and depression, to name a couple. There’s no way to avoid stress completely, so the best thing you can do for yourself is learn to manage stress in a productive and healthy way. Enter breathing exercises, yoga, relaxing hobbies such as gardening, painting or meditation. Deep breathing slows heartbeat and stabilizes blood pressure, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety (Harvard). Anything that encourages you to stay present and focus on a singular activity can help to reduce stress.
The last point is probably the most overlooked. We quite literally spend a third of our life sleeping and the quality of our sleep impacts us in more ways than you might realize. Insufficient sleep has been linked to risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and decreased immune function (Harvard). There are proven methods to improve the quality of your sleep, like reducing blue light exposure prior to bed time, not consuming caffeine late in the day, and maintaining a consistent sleep routine. Reducing stress prior to bed time also allows for a more restful sleep.
Making small changes to your routine, and practicing mindfulness can do wonders for your well-being and overall health. Take the time to put yourself first this fall season, and watch this space for more helpful tips.