There is no better time than right now to stay healthy and boost our immune systems. In a time when many things are beyond our control, we have two choices: we can obsess over them and stress out or we can focus on what we can control such as: Exercise, Nutrition and Mindfulness.
Immune system: Regular moderate exercise have positive effects on our immune system, helping us shorten the duration of viruses or ward them off entirely.
Strengthens the Heart & Lungs: Healthy hearts and lungs are ground zero for a healthy body, and exercise is one of the best ways to keep yours strong.
Reduces Inflammation: Only 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise per day helps reduce inflammation by lowering levels of a protein called TNF, which triggers this.
Promotes Better Sleep: Exercise helps us get more slow-wave or deep sleep. This is the stage of sleep in which our bodies and brains rest and rejuvenate.
Reduces Anxiety: When we elevate our heart rate through exercise, we actually change our brain chemistry resulting in higher levels of serotonin and endocannabinoids, both of which help us feel less anxious.
Eating a low-fat, plant-based diet may help give the immune system a boost. Plant-based diets are effective for weight loss, because they are rich in fiber, which helps fill us up without adding the extra calories. Lots of fruits and vegetables provide nutrients- like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E - that can boost immune function and help reduce oxidative stress. Here are some vitamins/foods to incorporate daily into your diet:
Beta-Carotene: reduces inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease fighting cells in the body. Food sources: sweet potatoes, carrots & green leafy vegetables.
Vitamins C & E: Antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body's natural immune system. Food sources: red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangos, lemons, nuts, seeds and spinach.
Vitamin D: May reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body. Food sources: fortified cereals and plant-based milks and supplements.
Zinc: is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. Food sources: nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentils.
Mindfulness breaks- by paying attention to the present moment without judgement, your bodies natural response is calming down- this enables our bodies immune system to do what it needs to take care of us. Meditation- sit or stand still, focus on the breath or the sensation in your body or the sounds around you- you automatically begin to breathe more slowly. Four key components of mindfulness: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation and sense of self. Mindfulness can come in many different forms such as: stillness, Yoga, Tai Chi and acupuncture. When you practice mindfulness regularly, you give yourself these "wellness breaks", disrupting the cycle of stress, exhaustion, and depletion that you're caught in.