Halloween is coming, and so are the holidays! That means so is Flu Season and with Covid still hanging around there is no better time than now to start boosting our Immune Systems. There will eventually be a vaccine, but not everyone can take a vaccine for different reasons. Some people may just choose not to. To protect yourself of course you can still wear a mask, even in regular Flu Season, be cautious in cramped spaces with lots of people, good handwashing and disinfecting of homes and vehicles, plus good Immune Health. I will go from my #1 tip to #10.
#1- Food! I am sure you have seen me write, or others, to eat good, healthy, real food. Or, food is medicine. You may also be following along on Thursdays, when I write about topics for my homeschooled teenager for a Nutrition course I am creating for her, where I discuss the foods we eat and how they may affect our bodies. I have learned so much about the food industry, processed foods, food deserts, and low nutritious foods. Changing poor eating habits to good eating habits is the best thing you can do to boost the Immune System. Processed foods are any foods that come in a package and can sit on store shelves, or in cupboards for long periods of time. Not all processed foods are bad, but they are generally higher in sodium, fat and sugar. None of those three things boost the Immune System. If you live in a food desert, or don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, consider Misfits Market, or buy frozen fruits and vegetables. Canned are OK too, but they tend to be much higher in sodium, and sugar content.
#2- Reduce sugar intake! This sort of goes with the end of number one. Have you ever noticed right after Halloween, the first week of November, kids and people start getting colds? Sugar deflates the Immune System making us more susceptible to illness. That doesn’t mean you can’t have candy, or can’t enjoy Halloween. But, does any child really need a whole bag full of candy? Allow one or two pieces a day, and put the rest up. This goes for adults as well. This goes for soda, cakes, cookies, or other highly condensed sugar products. Women should only be getting 6 tsp of sugar per day. That is 24 grams of sugar.
#3- If you smoke, quit! Smoking is another Immune System depressant. It can cause you to heal slower once you do become sick, especially respiratory illnesses.
4- Consider taking a multi-vitamin especially if you live in a food desert, where good quality food is available. Try to pick one with the least amount of coloring and fillers. If you have any chronic illnesses, always discuss with your doctor, first.
5- Get enough Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamin D. This sort of goes with #4, but more so if you don’t want to take a multi-vitamin. Citrus fruits are the best way to get Vitamin C or red bell peppers. Zinc is a little trickier especially if you are Vegan. Dairy, seafood and meat are the best ways to get enough Zinc. Some nuts and seeds are OK. Vegetables are not great sources because of the way Zinc is absorbed in the body. That leads me to Vitamin D.
6- Get outside in the sunlight for at least 20 minutes every day. I grew up in the North and my mother would make us go outside every day even if it was freezing. Sunlight is how your body makes Vitamin D. If you have CKD, like me, then you may need a supplement too as the Kidneys play a very important role in the production of Vitamin D in the body. If you live where it is cold you may wish to talk to your doctor about taking Vitamin D3 during the winter months when your skin can not be exposed to sunlight. If you are of darker skin tones, you may also wish to take a supplement as well.
7- Even if you can’t get sunlight, get fresh air. Open your windows, go for a short walk, even if it is just 10 minutes. Germs don’t like fresh air, but your Immune System does.
8- Exercise! It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. 15 minutes of walking, preferably outdoors, not only is great for your lungs. Try to make it as brisk as you can so your lungs get some exercise too. If you can do more brisk exercise like Aerobics, jogging or running, then by all means do it. It is great for your Immune System and your lungs.
9- Sleep! There are so many things going on and Covid just adds to that. Sleep is when your body rests and recharges. Growth, repair, and rejuvenation happens when you sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
10- Stress! Stress drains you and puts the Immune System under pressure. Stress is not a friend to you if you want to boost your Immune System. Take time for yourself, don’t work all of those extra hours, make and keep a budget, learn to say no. Most importantly find ways to relieve stress that are not detrimental to the Immune System. Such as volunteering, adopt a pet, learn a craft or hobby, exercise, write in a journal, gardening, and so many more.
Even if you just start with one of these it will help. Then take small steps to do the others.