By this point, it’s clear: We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19. Whether you know someone who’s been diagnosed, you’re considered an immunocompromised individual, or you’re one of the millions confined to their homes to help stop the virus’ spread, this is an unprecedented time of uncertainty about our health. The good news is that, in addition to social distancing and isolation, you can help protect yourself against any kind of virus by supporting your immune system.
A healthy immune system starts with the basics: nutrition, movement, sleep, and stress. As we all continue to play our part in #flatteningthecurve, let’s dive more deeply into how to support each of those categories, with few tips (and recipes) to keep your immune system strong and your holistic health on track.
What we eat has a profound effect on the way our immune system functions. While there are foods that have antiviral and antioxidant properties, eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet all year long (not just when you get sick) is the best way to support the immune system.
So, what does a nutrient-dense meal plan entail?
- Loading up on colorful fruits and vegetables at all meals and snacks.
- Including a variety of healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts/seeds, olives, and olive oil at each meal.
- If possible, choosing organic, wild caught, grass-fed, or pastured animal products.
- Keeping blood sugar balanced by choosing high fiber carbohydrates.
- Including sources of fermented and cultured foods daily to support gut health—70% of the immune system resides in the gut!
If you do get sick, you can help sustain and support your immune system by:
- Ensuring adequate intake (or supplementation) of vitamins A, D, and C and minerals zinc and selenium. We recommend food first, however for some of these nutrients (such as vitamin D) a supplement may be beneficial. Speak with your doctor or dietitian if you are curious about if/when to supplement.
- Limiting alcohol. Alcohol can suppress the immune system and irritate the intestinal lining.
- Adding antiviral foods such as garlic, ginger, oregano, sage, thyme, shiitake mushrooms, turmeric, cinnamon, and peppermint to your diet.
Sleep is essential for so many functions in the body—including the immune system! During sleep, specific pathways that support immunity become activated. Furthermore, studies show that inadequate sleep and poor quality sleep increase both susceptibility to colds and flus as well as the recovery time. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep and limit screens before bed to improve sleep quality. Need more tips? Try our tips for creating a bedtime ritual or these 5 yoga poses to do before bed.
Daily physical activity can support the immune system. However excessive exercise or working out at the wrong time of day can suppress immune function by increasing cortisol. Balance high intensity interval training with lower intensity days, such as yoga, walking, and stretching. Limit higher intensity activities to the morning and early afternoon.
Stress and immune function go hand-in-hand.Our body responds to stress by releasing cortisol, which can dampen the immune system. In the current culture, it’s perfectly understandable to experience more stress than normal. Incorporating stress-reducing practices, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and nature breaks can help to lower cortisol and support the immune system. See why meditation is being prescribed alongside anxiety medication by doctors across the world. Or, read more about natural anxiety remedies you can try now.
Enjoy some of these recipes during your #stayathome time. We curated this list to help keep your blood sugar balanced, nutrient status high & provide anti-inflammatory support.
- Tex Mex Sweet Potato Hash
- Sweet & Savory Yogurt Parfaits
- Whole Grain Yogurt Parfait
- Green Smoothie Bowl
- Tomato Basil Steelcut Oats
- Egg Scramble with Kale & White Beans
- Roasted Vegetable Shakshuka
- Immune Boosting Congee
- Feel Better Chicken Soup
- Salmon Rice Bowl
- “No Recipe” Curry
- Miso Ramen
- Mango Chicken Avocado Salad
- Kimchi Fried Rice
Snacks & Drinks
- Spinach Kale Chia Muffins
- Tumeric Super Shot
- Immune Boosting Hot Chocolate
- Smoked Salmon Hummus Rice Cake
Wondering how you can increase your immunity or how you can support your holistic health in the current COVD-19 crisis? Schedule a complimentary call with us to learn more at (952) 222-7670.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.