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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Four Ways to Boost Your Immunity

Nov 30, 2021 08:00PM ● By Stacy Boone-Vikingson

© New Africa

Months of stay-at-home orders wore thin on people’s overall well-being. Simultaneously, Americans took extra precautions to protect their health and immunity. As a result, four in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

As we return to normal, people are excited to go on vacation, eat out at restaurants, see their family and gather with loved ones. However, between showing up for in-person work and increased gatherings with friends and family, many are finding these once-routine parts of work and social life exhausting. The post-pandemic lifestyle of constantly having plans after months of isolation is creating another wave of fatigue.

Making sure the immune system is strong is a crucial way to protect the body from bacteria and viruses, and ultimately support its ability to fight off infections. Now is the time to stay vigilant and practice healthy habits we created early in the pandemic.

Here are four ways to boost your immunity and improve overall well-being:

1. Getting and staying active. During quarantine, Americans limited their exposure to others and began spending more time than ever in front of a screen. Going outside for a walk or a workout can go a long way to increasing overall well-being. According to a scientific review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, exercise can improve the immune response, lower risks to illnesses and reduce inflammation.

There are other types of activities that also support mental health. Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to focus on yourself and the positive aspects of your life. Getting and staying active helps manage stress and anxiety while boosting immune function.

2.  Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Many of us became accustomed to having dinner delivered right to our front door during the pandemic. But these are processed foods that are typically high in saturated fats. Overall, they do not adequately nourish our bodies the way we need to. Taking time to cook a meal lets you have more control over the ingredients, ultimately allowing you to cook with higher quality and more nutritious foods which our bodies need to stay well. After eating a well-balanced meal, we often feel healthier and happier and experience a boost in energy along with a greater resistance to stressors.

Some items that specifically benefit the immune system are oats, thyme and red meats. Oats are a good source of melatonin which is proven to limit virus-related diseases. It’s common knowledge that orange juice is filled with vitamin C, but spices like thyme and parsley are also rich in this vitamin, offering an immunity boost. Zinc is known to help maintain a healthy immune system by supporting cells that limit multiplication. Rather than buying vitamins, red meats are filled with this important nutrient.

3. Staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water daily is essential to keeping our bodies functioning at their best. Since the human body is 55 to 75 percent water, if we are not properly hydrated, it can affect our minds and the function of other organs. Drinking the right quantity of water significantly impacts our energy level, brain function and physical performance. There are many other benefits, including moisture for the skin, aiding in weight loss and minimizing headaches.

It is important to avoid or limit the intake of sugary drinks and caffeine. While these may temporarily increase energy levels, in reality, they contribute to dehydration.

4. Prioritizing rest. Getting a good night’s sleep provides essential support and benefits to the immune system. This creates a well-balanced immune defense that can more adequately respond and fight off infections to keep the body in its best shape. But getting the right amount of sleep is not enough. Quality plays a critical role. Avoiding screens 30-minutes before bed, maintaining a good sleep routine, and cutting caffeine, alcohol and sugar can all contribute to a better, higher quality night’s sleep, leaving the body feeling rested and rejuvenated in the morning.

 Now that we can socialize again, we are spending a lot of time with our loved ones. After a year of isolation, this is great, but we also need alone time to rejuvenate, focus on ourselves and on our personal goals. Every day, make sure to carve out time for yourself.

Taking a holistic approach to health allows us to prevent diseases and illnesses before they occur, rather than managing symptoms. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but now is the time to continue practicing wellness and activities that boost the immune system. By staying active, eating healthy, staying hydrated and prioritizing rest, people are on-track to live their happiest and healthiest life to the fullest.

Northwestern Health Sciences University is educating the next generation of healthcare professionals to transform health by treating patients through high-value complementary and integrative care. For more information, visit NWHealth.edu. 


© Stacey Boone

 Stacy Boone-Vikingson, DC, CACCP, MBA, is the clinical lead at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Bloomington clinic. 

 






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Read the full September 2022 Magazine