In these unprecedented and fluid times of the COVID19 pandemic, it’s important to focus on how we can best protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities against this invisible enemy.
To best support our immune system, it boils down to these 10 basics:
1. Plant-Rich Diet
Eating 5 cups of colorful fruits and veggies a day will give you all the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients your body’s immune system needs to function well. These nutrients include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids. Diversity in foods is important, so make sure to rotate through your colorful fruits and veggies during the course of the week.
2. Immune Boosting Foods
In addition to colorful fruits and veggies, there are a handful of roots, bulbs, and spices which help promote healthy immune function. These include: ginger, garlic, red onion, and turmeric, amongst others.
We have over 100 trillion microorganisms that reside within us, collectively known as the microbiome. Most of these microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) live within our gut and are our friends, helping to support healthy immune function, as well as digestion.
The gut microbiome helps to protect against pathogenic invaders whch can cause disease. Supporting a healthy gut microbiome with probiotics is essential. Though probiotics can be taken as supplements, it s best to take live probiotics from fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled veggies, yogurt and kefir. Diversity is important here as well, so be sure to rotate through a different probiotic source every few days.
4. Immune Boosting Botanicals
Ancient traditions like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine relied on herbs and botanicals for good health. Herbs such as ashwagandha, oil of oregano, echinacea, Sambucus nigra (elderberry) are still used today. They have all been used to support the immune system and fight off infections due to common viruses and bacteria.
Though there is no data yet on how herbs and botanicals may be used to protect against coronavirus, there was a study published in 2011 which showed that elderberry extract was effective against certain pathogenic bacteria and the influenza virus, as well as potentially other viruses as well.
5. Plentiful Hydration
Adequate hydration is the key to good health. Not only is it good for your circulation, but it is very important for detoxification. My thumbnail recommendation for fluid intake is at least 1 fluid oz per 1/2 lb body weight daily.
In other words, a 160 lb person should drink 80 fluid oz daily. This does not have to be only water; hydration can come from certain foods or other beverages, though make sure to avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks. Also, be sure to check with your primary doctor to make sure you do not have any cardiac or renal contraindications to high fluid intake.
6. Adequate rest
Sleep is restorative and allows both your body and mind to recharge and re-energize. Sleep does wonders to strengthen your immune system. My general recommendation is 7-8 hours a night. Some people can get by on 6, while others may need 9 hours a night. You will know if your body is getting enough sleep if you wake up feeling rested.
Movement is critical to supporting your immune system. Try to move at least 30 minutes a day, Any type of movement is beneficial, whether it be low impact and gentle such as walking, stretching, or yoga, or more intense and aerobic, such as running, biking, or swimming.
8. Stress Management
Stress is guaranteed a part of life, but it is how we manage our stress levels which determines how it may affect our health. There is abundant research showing that too much stress negatively impacts our immune system through cortisol levels, making us more susceptible to infections.
There are many ways to mitigate stress- through meditation, music, gardening, reading, or other practices which encourage a state of relaxation and joy. Try to incorporate some form of stress reduction into your life, even if it’s for 10 minutes a day.
If you have never meditated before, there are some wonderful apps which provide guided meditations, such as Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer. There are also mindfulness meditation practices such as body scans or mindful eating which are very effective in helping to reduce anxiety and stress.
9. Social Interactions
In this unprecedented era of social distancing, maintaining social interactions may seem challenging. Being unable to meet with family, friends, neighbors, or loved ones can be isolating and may even lead to depression.
However, keep in mind that we live in a digital age and it is easy to find ways to stay connected. Video chats are a wonderful alternative to in-person meetings, or even group chats through messaging or video. Or perhaps, stay in touch the old fashioned way by picking up the phone or writing a letter. I’m sure someone out there will appreciate your effort!
Supplements should be, as their name suggests, supplemental to a healthy diet and lifestyle. However, if you are looking to take supplements to “boost” your immune system, these would be my top picks:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Oil of Oregano
- Sambucus nigra (Elderberry)
- Mushroom blend
Unfortunately, there is no single product which contains all of these ingredients. I wish there were! However, it is possible to purchase some of them in combination. Click HERE to see the brands which I have researched and trust which contain these ingredients.
When purchasing supplements, keep in mind that not all products are made equal. Often subpar ingredients may be used in generics or brands which do not have quality control. Be sure to look for brands labeled “pharmaceutical-grade” which have excellent quality-control.
I personally use an on-line pharmacy called Fullscript which carefully vets its manufacturers prior to offering their products. You can create an account and view the Immune Support products which I have curated for myself and my family.
Here are the steps to access these Immune Support products on Fullscript:
- Click this LINK and create an account using your name and email
- Click on “See Catalog”
- Click on “See Categories”
- Click on “Immune Support”
Because of high demand, some of the products may be on backorder, though hopefully should be back in stock soon.
It is important, especially during these times of uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic, to stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Using the strategies above, you can strengthen your immune reserve and be prepared.
May you and your loved ones remain healthy and well!