Do you feel vulnerable about your health during this season? One of the best things you can do is make sure you have a rock-solid immune system! Keep in mind, these habits we’ll cover are things you should be doing on a regular basis, not just when sickness is going around. Your immune system doesn’t flip a switch overnight, so the things you do year-round will determine if your immune system is balanced or not. However, a lot of people don’t realize these habits affect your immune system, and now is the time to start implementing them if you aren’t already.
6 Tips to strengthen your immune system:
Your body repairs itself when you sleep, and if you don’t get enough your immune system takes a hit. Without sufficient sleep, T cells (an immune cell that fights virus-infected cells, like the flu and cancer) cannot function properly. So do yourself a favor and get a little extra sleep! Don’t kid yourself that you can function fine off of 5-6 hours a night–this is not the time to take that gamble.
- Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Sugar actually suppresses the immune system by putting your white blood cells in a temporary coma. Pay attention to the sugar content in your drinks (I’m looking at you, fru fru coffee drinkers) and on other foods besides just desserts. Aim to keep your added sugars below 25g daily.
- Focus on Eating Real, Whole Foods
If you are wondering what those are, it’s typically food that’s one ingredient. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as they are a great source of vitamins C and E and have phytonutrients your body needs to repair itself and again, strengthen your immune system. Leafy greens, bell peppers, garlic, broccoli, citrus fruits, ginger, turmeric, raw or sprouted almonds, green tea, raw sunflower seeds, papaya, and kiwi are just a few great foods to implement in your diet on a regular basis.
- Boost Your Gut Health
About 70% of your immune system cells live in or around your gut, and if your gut health is off then it impacts your entire body. Stress, sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, drugs like NSAIDs, birth control and antibiotics, and environmental factors all contribute to damaging gut health so it’s important to add some habits on a regular basis to heal it. In addition to avoiding the above triggers, balance your good gut bacteria by adding in fermented food and drinks (miso soup, kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented pickles, kimchi). Bone broth is great for repairing your gut wall and is a good source of protein and minerals. I recently made my own bone broth in my instapot with leftover chicken bones, carrots, celery, onion and a bit of salt and it tasted delicious! It was so easy to do and made about a week’s worth of broth.
- Reduce Stress
When we are stressed our immune system can’t effectively fight off antigens and we are more susceptible to infections. Raised levels of cortisol also suppress the immune system because it lowers our numbers of white blood cells. Focus on what you can actually control, and spend time practicing breathing, meditation, journaling, going on walks without your phone, enjoying a hobby or spending time with people you love to reduce your stress.
- Consider supplementation
Because of our lifestyle and environment, most of us don’t get the number of vegetables and fruits, omega 3’s, Vitamin D (which is great for the immune system), and probiotics our bodies genetically require. This is because our typical sources (which usually don’t have a lot of variety) are naturally depleted and a boost from reputable supplements can be really helpful to bridge the gap.
Consider adding in a food-based supplement (I’m not talking about a multivitamin); Innate Choice and Juice Plus+ are great brands. We also recommend Innate Choice for a probiotic, fish oil and vitamin D.
Other things to supplement with include a vitamin C tablet (not EmergenC), elderberry syrup, apple cider vinegar (with the mother) and perhaps zinc.
Building your health might be simple but it doesn’t mean its easy. That’s why the coaching staff is here. We are here to equip you with knowledge, motivation and positivity. If you do CrossFit you were born for moments like this. You are strong!! Pick one thing on this list today and start to optimize your health!