While it seems like there are a million things we can’t control, one of the things we can influence is our health, resilience, and well-being.

While these tips will not guarantee you won’t get sick, they will enhance your body’s ability to fight infection and can support recovery if you do get sick. Of course, follow the recommendations of the CDC, World Health Organization, your local officials, and personal physician.

Tips to Strengthen Your Immunity

Stay well hydrated with plenty of fresh filtered water. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces. If needed, add slices of citrus, berries, or even fresh herbs to your water for added flavor without added chemicals or sweetener.

Eliminate alcohol and added sugars. According to MD Mark Hyman,  “Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingesting. Limiting starch and sugar will help your immune system function better.” Use fruit such as grapes, pineapple, or berries to satisfy a sweet tooth. If sweetener is called for, try small amounts of organic, raw, local honey.

Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep. If you are having difficulty sleeping, take a warm bath before bed. Reduce light, especially blue light and noise. Use a sound machine or white noise app. Try a meditation app and stay off media or other charged content for 2-3 hours before bed.

Add in gentle to moderate movement. Rigorous workouts are not needed to support immunity. In fact, extreme workouts or fitness regimens may increase inflammation (do not engage in vigorous exercise if you are sick). Good choices include walking, biking, yoga, or low-intensity interval training.

Get plenty of sunshine. While keeping a safe distance from others, try to get outside when the sun is out. The sun is our original source of vitamin D. It helps regulate circadian rhythms, and can enhance sleep, energy, and mood. Get your D levels checked to determine how much you may need to supplement.

 

Maintain a Sense of  Social Community

Stay connected to family and friends online or by phone. Isolation affects our mental and physical health. Join an online community of like-minded individuals or connect to one of the many global gatherings that are being offered for free during this time.

Laugh. Ever hear the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine”? Laughter increases feel-good chemicals in the brain, boosts mood, and reduces stress. Watch something silly like babies giggling, look up goofy riddles, or play games with your kids.

De-stress. High levels of stress compromise your immune system. Use meditation, mindfulness, and breathing practices. Spend time in nature. Reduce your exposure to sensationalized news stories.

Increase whole nutrient-dense foods, especially vegetables. If you ever wanted to see what the recommended 7-9 servings of vegetables look like, now’s the time. See below for a few immune-boosting superstars:

Foods to Add-In

 

Whole food sources of protein: pastured eggs, grass-fed meats, wild cold-water fish, lentils, organic tempeh if plant-based. Foods high in zinc including seafood, grass-fed meat, and eggs. Other vegetarian options high in zinc include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, dark leafy greens, beans.

Foods high vitamin C including in lemons, another citrus, red bell peppers, Camu Camu, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and kiwi.

Foods high in probiotics: onion, garlic, asparagus, artichokes, jicama, chicory root
Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial herbs, and spices such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Filtered water, herbal teas, raw coconut water. Broth and soups, preferably homemade.

Foods to Eliminate
Excess caffeine
Alcohol
Refined sugar
Processed foods
Dairy
Not food, but smoking and vaping are risk factors for an illness of all types.

While this is a time of heightened anxiety, remember that this too shall pass. If you are experiencing anxiety or would like support to implement the above strategies, reach out for support from a qualified professional.

Call 201-488-6678 to access virtual mental health or health and lifestyle coaching services.

By Anna Sandbank, LCSW, INHC, Director of Integrative Mind-Body Health, Specialized Therapy Associates, Fx Med Centers, Xceptional You

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice or replace treatment or intervention by a qualified medical or mental health professional.