As a tennis coach, when I'm helping players get ready for a tournament, especially with summer heat and humidity, I always advise them that the time to start hydrating isn't the day of the tournament, during the match and definitely not when they get thirsty. Getting behind the curve on hydration can lead to painful muscle cramps, and all too often a trip to the emergency room for IV fluids. The time to focus on hydration is in the days leading up to the event.
So many of our body's systems function similarly and these same principles apply to our immune system as well. The time to focus on boosting our immunity (in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and with cold and flu season on the horizon) is literally all the time! This may sound like a massive undertaking, on top of everything else you have going on, but really, just a few, simple steps can have a huge impact on helping you be healthier.
1. HEALTHY FOODS
First and foremost, consider the food you eat to be a form of preventative medicine. Supplements and vitamins are great, but there's really no substitute for regularly eating healthful food. This might be the most labor-intensive of my helpful hints, but a whole food diet, full of colorful fruits and vegetables will help your immune system stay ahead of the curve. Don't wait until you get a stuffy nose or sore throat and start pounding vitamin C (even though that will help). Eat a full spectrum of foods to boost your immunity. Some great choices are:
- Bell peppers - loaded with vitamin C, one pepper can contain more than the daily requirement
- Broccoli - extremely versatile and rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E (and) potassium
- Citrus fruits - full of vitamin C and other immune-boosting and anti-oxidant benefits
- Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and arugula - good sources of beta carotene for reducing inflammation and increasing disease-fighting cells
- Garlic - contains compounds that naturally destroy bacteria and infection, helping support your immune system
- Pumpkin seeds - a good source of zinc, an essential mineral for immune support
- Water - staying hydrated isn't just for when we're sweating! Healthy fluid consumption keeps harmful waste and toxins flushed out of our systems
- Our sauces are an excellent way to boost immunity and supplement your healthy eating habits. We have high amounts of vitamins A, C, D, and B6, as well as antioxidants and micronutrients. Take a look at our products
2. HEALTHY ACTIVITY
Get a good sweat going! Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. Exercise increases blood and lymph flow as your muscles contract, increasing the circulation of immune cells. Another benefit of exercise is that it decreases inflammation which, in turn, can also improve immunity. If your body isn't having to work overtime to fight inflammation, it can focus better on fighting off infections and viruses. Sweating can help flush toxins out of our bodies and the stress relief benefits of physical activity are well documented. Activity has added benefits of improving focus and mental sharpness and can enhance relaxation.
3. HEALTHY SLEEP
Our bodies repair while we are sleeping. So many things these days can be keeping us awake at night, but it's more important than ever to get plenty of restful, healthy sleep. If we aren't tired out enough after our good workout, there are other ways to wind down and get a good night's sleep.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine - take a hot bath or shower, listen to calming music, meditate, have a nice cup of Sleepytime tea
- Enhance your sleeping environment with a comfortable bed and bedding, blackout shades or a sleeping mask and a comfortable temperature
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
- Increase bright light exposure during the day but reduce blue light exposure in the evening
- Try a natural supplement like melatonin, valerian root, or magnesium
- Don't eat or drink too heavily or too late, take a late nap, or workout too close to bedtime
4. HEALTHY ATTITUDE
So many times we let the stresses and little irritations of everyday life drag us down and wear us out. Maintaining a positive mental attitude has been proven to have a powerful impact our health, just a surely as nutrition or activity. This goes beyond just looking at the bright side of things. Protect a healthy attitude, just like you protect any other area of your health. Avoid or limit the negative effects of social media and doomscrolling. Spending time with family and friends (even with social distancing) can help us feel connected and grounded. Find a relaxing hobby or activity. Look for ways to volunteer or give back in your community.
As all of our body's systems work together, these aspects of a healthier lifestyle work together. A healthy diet helps us have the energy to be active, which in turn helps us to relax and sleep better, creating a continuous cycle of positive benefits. The time it takes to make a few simple changes to boost your immunity now can save you a lot of time from being sick, tired and run down in the future. It's worth the effort!