Lifestyle, Self-Care, and Your Immune System

Jake Articles, News/Main, Nutrition, Updates

While we can’t control a lot of what’s happening right now, we can control working towards building a healthy immune system and prioritizing our self care. By incorporating some of these basic healthy ideas listed below, you can better protect yourself and feel your best during this unprecedented time. Hopefully, these will turn into habits that you’ll continue to implement through the years to come. After all, self care is the best form of healthcare.

What is our immune system? Our immune system is in charge of protecting our body from infection. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and by incorporating healthy-living strategies into your lifestyle.

Eating healthy, antioxidant rich foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains is one of the best ways to stay healthy and boost your immune system. Eating more “real foods” and less sugary foods can make a big difference in strengthening your immune system. Sugar may decrease your immune system’s ability to function by inhibiting the activity of important immune cells.

So, what can you do now to increase your self care and boost your immune system?

  1. Aim to keep vitamin D levels sufficient.  Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system, and sadly, most of us are deficient because we don’t get enough direct sun exposure each day. If possible, start getting your levels checked at your yearly check-up. For optimal levels, consider spending more time in the sun and taking a supplement
  2. Prioritize your sleep. It’s recommended to get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night. This is how we re-charge for the next day and how our bodies heal.
    1. To set yourself up for improved sleep avoid screens one hour before bed, such as computers, tv, phones, etc. The artificial blue light emitted from electronics triggers your body to produce more cortisol (which typically spikes in the morning) and suppresses your nighttime hormones like melatonin, disorienting your body’s natural preparation for sleep.
    2. Consider taking a relaxing bath, shower, read a book, journal, do breathwork or maybe meditate before bed to help set the tone for some solid rest. Do something that helps you relax. There will be some trial and error here as we are all different, so see what works for you.
  3. Try to get more sunlight during the day.  Sunlight provides the natural light we need to help coordinate the cycle of melatonin and cortisol production. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that sends a signal to regulate the sleep-wake cycle in your body.  Bonus, getting more sunlight will also boost your vitamin D production.
  1. Find ways to lower your stress levels. This will obviously be different for each person. Note when you’re feeling really stressed and what resources you could tap into to help decrease your stress. Maybe it’s doing some breath work, taking a slow walk to sort through your thoughts and feelings, or doing a yoga class or some type of exercise. As you continue to pay attention to what helps you deal with your stressors, you’ll get better and better at tapping into those individual resources and be able to help yourself.
  2. Stay hydrated throughout your day. There are many positive benefits to staying hydrated. One is that it gets rid of toxins & infections along with protecting and clearing out your airway. Make it a goal to have a glass of water upon waking up in the morning and then continue throughout the day to drink a total of at least half your body weight in ounces.

Let’s focus on what we CAN control and focus on strengthening our immune system while practicing the above recommendations for optimal self care. Now is the time we want our health to be top priority and our immune system to be strong!

Additional Reading:

A high-sugar diet affects cellular and humoral immune responses in Drosophila.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29727694

Diet and Immune Function

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/

Feeding Our Immune System: Impact on Metabolism

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2266987/

Does Sugar Really Suppress the Immune System?

https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/prevention/does-sugar-really-suppress-the-immune-system

Vitamin D and the Immune System

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

Can Vitamin D Lower Your Risk of COVID-19?

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-coronavirus

The Effects of Red and Blue Lights on Circadian Variations in Cortisol, Alpha Amylase, and Melatonin

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ije/2010/829351/

Light, Hormones, and Peptides; It’s All About Timing

https://www.blublox.com/blogs/news/light-hormones-and-peptides-its-all-about-timing