During this unique time we’re experiencing, it’s imperative that we don’t ignore our immune system. The primary function of the immune system is to prevent, detect, and stop infection within the human body. It recognizes the cells that make up the body and will try to get rid of anything unfamiliar. Our immune system doesn’t only fight against viruses and bacteria, however. The immune system is crucial in the aid of our brain functioning properly and effectively. If we don’t take care of our immune system, it will affect our entire body, including: decreased cognitive function, a “foggy” brain, poor sleep, and so on. Here are five ways that you can help boost your immune system right now.
Eat Your Greens: Try and sneak in any extra amount of vegetables during your meals. Whether it’s a salad for lunch, some veggies in your smoothie, or a portion on the side of your plate at dinner. “Greens” contain phytonutrients and fiber that will help your immune defenses stay strong.
Proper Sleep: Now is the time to try and really get a proper night's rest. Ideally, an average adult should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. A proper, full night’s rest will give your body time to repair and reset. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try using black-out window shades, eliminating blue-lighting (phones, tv, laptop, etc.) thirty minutes before bed, and even try “quiet-time” right before bed (meditating or reading a book.)
Keep Well Hydrated: A big myth is you only have to drink water when you feel thirsty. This is not the case. Whether you feel thirsty or not, make sure you’re consuming water periodically throughout the day. By doing this, your lungs will remain moist and keep mucus flowing. This will help clear your lungs of any material that could potentially be harmful to your body. Staying hydrated can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people but a solid guideline for water intake is between 64-96 ounces per day, according to our in-house nutritionist.
Add Probiotics and Prebiotics to your plate: Probiotics play a key role in strengthening the bowel wall, improving the absorption of minerals, and regulating hormone production. Good sources of probiotics include: Greek yogurt, sourdough bread, cottage cheese, among others. Prebiotics are the nourishment probiotics need in order to flourish! Prebiotics contain fiber from plants, which feeds the good bacteria in your gut and strengthens your microbiome, which is GREAT for your immune system! Some foods you can start adding to your plate include: asparagus, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and bananas. Simply put, you can’t have probiotics without prebiotics.
Exercise but don’t overdo it: Movement of any kind is beneficial to help boost your immune system. Exercise causes a change in white blood cells, which are the cells that the immune system uses to help fight off disease. Our core body temperature rises during and briefly after exercise. This is beneficial because this will prevent bacteria from growing in your body, and ultimately, will help fight infection more efficiently. Exercising can range from a morning walk around your neighborhood to an at home strength workout. Just make sure you don’t overdo it. Overtraining can have the opposite effect on your immune system.
During this time, it’s crucial to keep your immune system functioning as optimal as possible to help fight and prevent sickness. Keeping a healthy immune system will help keep a healthy brain and a healthy body, not simply for staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for the rest of your life.
Coach Mike Koprowski