As a Functional Nutritionist I help people make healthy changes to their diet, discover the foods that fuel their unique body and boost their immune system. Never has it been more important than right now to focus on how we can maintain, support and increase our immunity. Here are some simple things to pay attention to:
FOOD – 90% of our immune system lives in our gut! Keeping our gut healthy means more good ‘bugs’ and less bad ‘bugs’. Eating whole, nutrient dense food is key: think vegetables, fruits, protein. A variety of food and extra ‘ruffage’ is also important to nourish our microbiome. Our gut needs pre-biotics and pro-biotics to be healthy and it loves a wide variety of food. While we can take pro-biotics in a supplement form, there is no guarantee that your body needs that particular strain or can absorb it – when we eat whole foods our body can break down exactly what we need and eliminate the rest.
Eating junk food and processed carbs or food with excess sugar actually harms our gut microbiome by giving the bad bugs fuel to grow and overpopulate our gut. An important caveat:: alcohol also negatively affects our immune system by adding toxins and excess sugar to our gut and placing an additional burden on our liver. This is an excellent time to focus on ‘wellness without wine’.
VITAMIN D – Vitamin D is critical to maintain our immune system and help us fight off infection. While we can get Vitamin D in food and capsules, the best way is to get outside into the natural light. Even if it is a cloudy day, there is still natural Vitamin D that your skin and your retinas can absorb. Think about a daily walk or drinking your morning cup of coffee or tea out on your front porch or back deck. Your body will thank you!
HYDRATION – This is very important to our immune system and it helps flush toxins out of our bodies. During this time of ‘shelter in place’ we are thrown off our normal routine so it can be challenging to remember to stay hydrated. I have a quick tip: place your water bottle next to the coffee pot or teapot and place 3 rubber bands around it. While you wait for your morning beverage, fill your water bottle and take off the first rubber band.
When you finish the first bottle, fill again and take off the second rubber band, and keep going until you have drank at least 3 full water bottles for the day! Your lungs need hydration to expel foreign particles, your kidneys need water to flush pathogens, your entire body needs hydration to boost your immune system!
IMMUNE BOOSTING FOODS – everybody is different and unique and we all need to be eating foods that nourish OUR bodies. This looks a bit different for everyone, however there are some superfoods out there that are powerhouses when it comes to supporting our immunes system:
- Green Tea
- Selenium – 3 brazil nuts per day
- Foods high in vitamins A and D: red and yellow vegetables, egg yolks and fish eggs
- Foods high in Zinc: almonds, grass fed red meat
- Foods high in vitamin C: papaya, kiwi, red bell peppers
SLEEP – Yes, lack of sleep can affect your immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. While it may be tempting to stay up late or sleep in when we don’t have to travel to work or school, sticking to a regular bedtime routine can enhance our sleep quality and our immunity.
Staying SAFE, SANE & SOBER – Your commitment to healthy eating and sober living might be challenged by our current circumstances. If you need support, please grab 30 minutes on my calendar and let me help you get back on track!