It seems like now, more than ever, we are all extremely conscious about our health and wellbeing. We often take our immune systems for granted, but in the current light of virus related risks, it’s a hot-button topic of discussion. Harvard Medical School said it best, “The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony.”
Any product that claims an instant immune system boost may be selling you a tall tale. At College Chefs, we have an obvious passion for food. We know how much your diet can affect your body, mind and immunity. What you choose to consume plays a huge role in supporting a healthy body. But, it is just part of the whole when it comes to your lifestyle and wellbeing.
After sorting through immune boosting advice from western medical doctors, functional medicine practitioners and eastern traditions, we found some common tips to maintain a strong immune system.
Let’s Start With Compassion
As a preface, we want to acknowledge how complicated and intricate our health can be. You can feel like you’re doing everything right and still get sick. Practicing recommended health and safety precautions and practicing compassion towards yourself and others is always a good idea. Recognize that sickness is a part of life and health is something to cherish. Read on to see our top 4 habits to boost your immune system!
1. A Whole Food Diet
This may seem cliche, but study after study shows how eating minimally processed foods high in vitamins and antioxidants has a direct positive impact on your overall health. The importance of gut health is becoming more and more prevalent as probiotics have emerged as the latest superfood trend. Gut microbiome is proven to communicate with immune cells and control your body’s response to infection.
Fun fact: you have more bacterial cells in your body than you do human cells. Filling up on fruits and veggies can help keep these systems in balance and rev up your body’s response to infection.
2. Sunlight and Fresh Air
Do you ever notice how a short walk outside can help make you feel better when you're feeling down? Researchers first studied the effects of sunlight and fresh air during the first world war and their positive effects on the immune system have been repeatedly proven since. Even if we are encouraged to stay inside, spending time on a patio, porch or sunny spot near a window can have amazing benefits. If possible, going on a walk while practicing mindful social distancing can be a great way to soak up the benefits of the outdoors and get some great exercise.
Nothing beats a good night's sleep. Inadequate and poor quality sleep can lead to a higher susceptibility to sickness.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep.”
While stress seems to be at a collective high, cultivating a personal bedtime routine can help you unwind at night. Reducing screen time, drinking a calming tea, meditating, and using essential oils are just a few of the great ways you can prepare for a good night’s rest.
Stress is linked to a countless number of horrors such as adrenal issues, high cortisol levels, weight gain, thyroid problems, heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, etc... Sometimes reading the list of negative effects can be stressful in itself! Adopting a practice of mindfulness, gratitude or whatever works best for you is key to a balanced life and healthy immune system. Check out our blog about Emotional Wellbeing! It’s full of good advice and resources on how to manage stress.
Eating healthy, plant based foods, taking great care of yourself and practicing things that make you happy are amazing steps to maintaining physical and mental health. Look at these tips as part of the whole; if you’re stressing about what you should eat, for example, you won’t reap the benefits of healthy habits. How do you cultivate a healthy lifestyle? We love to hear your practices and thoughts. Give us a shout on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and let us know!