As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to grow claiming lives and halting life as we know it, nearly every American is stocking up on immune-boosting supplements to improve their chances of fighting off the virus should they become exposed. Although immune support supplements are a convenient and effective way to improve immunity, there is no better way to boost immunity than specific diet and lifestyle choices.
Here are our top lifestyle and food recommendations for giving your immune system the best fighting chance during a pandemic:
Get 7-9 hour Sleep
One of the main purposes of sleep is for our body’s vital functions to rest and repair to remain in an optimally functional state; our immune system is one of the most critical of those functions. Getting a minimum of 7-9 hours of sleep each night is required for allowing our body to rest and release toxic build-up from the previous day. There is no substitute for a good night’s rest making this the most critical practice for improving immunity during a pandemic. If you are experiencing insomnia, we recommend researching light herbal solutions like chamomile tea or stronger extracts like valerian root to see if they might be an option for you.
Keep Stress Levels Low
Pandemics are indeed a stressful time for everyone but as challenging as it might seem, stress management is a critical piece of maintaining optimal immune functions. When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is active, we more commonly know of this as our fight/flight response. During fight/flight, many critical physiological functions are deprioritized to allow an abundance of energy for fight/flight, our immune functions are one of these deprioritized leaving us vulnerable to illness. Stress management solutions are therefore a critical component of immunity. We recommend meditation, nature walks, exercise, essential oils, and baths as effective interventions for stress.
Our physical and mental well-being is directly correlated to the amount of physical exercise we get. There is a wealth of research on this topic and scientists and medical professionals all agree that having a regular fitness regimen is one of the main predictors of how well we can withstand illness especially infectious diseases. Doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise for at least 5 days a week. Best results are accomplished with activities than increase the heart rate. Developing and maintaining a physical routine is a requirement for optimal immunity.
Choose Whole & Healing Foods
There is truly no better time to incorporate positive changes to our diets than during a pandemic. The food choices we make directly impact immunity.
Avoid these at all costs:
- Fast Food
- All Processed Sugar
- Soda & sugary drinks including ”sugar-free” alternatives - just say no to soda!
- All Processed Foods
- Fried Foods
- Red Meat & Pork especially if processed
- Excessive Caffeine
Instead, opt-in for these healthy choices:
- Fresh Greens & Vegetables
- Lean Protein (eggs, chicken, fish)
- Fresh Fruits
- Seeds, Nuts & nut butter
- Fermented Foods
Try to incorporate as much of these immune-boosting foods as possible into your diet:
- Foods rich in Omega 3 (sardines, salmon, fish oil, etc)
- Ginger & Turmeric
- Green Tea
- Coconut Oil
- Manuka Honey
Avoid Alcohol Consumption
It might seem tempting to want to indulge in a night of drinking to calm the inevitable stress during a pandemic but alcohol is a toxin that taxes the immune system and compromises the body’s ability to fight disease. We recommend avoiding all alcohol consumption during a pandemic with the exception of the occasional glass of red wine which contains antioxidant properties that can help speed up cell repair allowing a larger share of our energy to be available for immune functions. There are of course many alternative antioxidants to red wine like blueberries and green tea.
The strength of our immune functions is directly linked to our physical and emotional well-being. No amount of immunity supplements can make up for inadequate sleep, poor diet, and high stress. It is important to prioritize a healthy and balanced lifestyle above all else at all times but especially during a global pandemic. The choices we make during a disease outbreak can mean the difference between a mild or asymptomatic infection vs a complicated or even fatal infection.