12 Healthy Ways to Strengthen your Immune System
Mar 27, 2020
What happens when you spend 24/7 with a 4-year-old? You start thinking about everything in terms of superhero references. Even if you haven’t spent the last two weeks of quarantine with 24/7 parent duty, we all get a bit more eccentric after being indoors all day every day.
Considering that, we thought we’d take a creative approach to talking about healthy ways to strengthen your immune system. We’re going to use our favorite superheroes to help teach you the 12 best practices to kick some COVID-19 booty! Fun for the whole family.
- KEEP IT AS GREEN AS THE HULK. Green foods that is! Leafy greens like spinach, arugula, and kale are not only high in essential vitamins and nutrients, but they also send chemical signals to your gut that stimulate immune cell activity. But leafy greens aren’t the only good green foods! Foods like avocado, broccoli, kiwi, and green tea have antioxidant properties and contain nutrients that naturally boost your immune system. While we’re at it, here are some other foods that can help (even though they’re not green!) ward off any nasty viruses: garlic, ginger, turmeric, licorice, citrus fruits, red bell peppers, almonds, yogurt, salmon, papaya, sunflower seeds, poultry, shellfish, and mushrooms.
- YOU WOULDN’T LIKE YOU WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY. Part of keeping a healthy body is reducing stress. When you have anxiety, your body releases corticosteroids that can lower the efficacy of the immune system. This is particularly damaging with chronic stress. We know right now probably the last thing you want to hear is ‘calm down’. However, if binge-watching Locke & Key on Netflix instead of doing all the other things you think you need to do gets you to reduce stress, the immune systems of both you and your loved ones will be better off. In other words: binge-watching saves lives.
- LOOK! UP IN THE SKY! IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! IT’S THE SUN! Vitamin D can reduce inflammation and improve the functioning of white blood cells. Additionally, low Vitamin D levels are actually linked with upper respiratory tract infections. We know that right now going outside your house can be a tall order, but even a few minutes a day of standing on your patio or lawn or going for a short walk (keeping social distancing in mind!) can make a difference.
- I HAVE THE ZINC! Zinc deficiency affects nearly 2 million people across the world, including around 30% of older adults. Zinc deficiency can make you more susceptible to respiratory infections and illnesses including pneumonia. Supplements such as vitamin C, echinacea, elderberry and oil of oregano have also been cited as potentially beneficial supplements, but evidence on their efficacy is mixed and typically primarily beneficial only to people who are deficient prior to pathogen exposure. Word to the wise if you do decide to go the supplement route: do not overdo the prescribed amount. There are some serious health risks associated with overdoing supplement intake. For example, taking too much Zinc can limit your copper uptake, making you more susceptible to anemia. Alternatively, we recommend finding these vitamins in your food sources such as those we mentioned in #1.
- BE THE AQUAMAN (OR AQUAWOMAN). Drink water. It’s easy to forget when you’re not as active during the day, but your body still needs water to help carry oxygen to your cells and ensure a properly functioning system. It also is necessary to eliminate toxic waste from the body.
- FLAME OFF! Don’t light up! Especially when the virus going around attacks your respiratory system. Smoking not only limits your lung capacity, but it lowers antioxidants in your blood and makes you more susceptible to pneumonia and influenza. Repeat after me: Do. Not. Smoke.
- IT’S COBBLER TIME! ….Or not….unless you want to make it one of those vegan, no-sugar cobblers. In other words, limit your intake of surgary products. Right after you consume a sugary product, you suppress the white blood cells that attack bacteria, leaving your body more at risk for hours afterward. Better to maybe search out some other vices at the moment.
- WITH GREAT ALCOHOL, COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. You don’t have to stop drinking altogether, but it’s certainly not a bad idea to cut back. Alcohol has been linked to damage in the dendritic cells crucial to the immune system. Vaccines are also known to be less effective in those with alcohol addiction. All that said, on the plus side, tonic water does contain quinine which is the organic form of chloroquine (aka the anti-malarial which is currently being used with some moderate success to treat COVID-19). In other words, if you are going to drink, maybe make it a gin and tonic.
- EVEN SUPERHEROES SLEEP. And if you need help remembering it, there’s a book both you and your kids enjoy called just that. Why? When you sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines, which are needed to fight off inflammation and infection. Therefore, less sleep=less cytokines=more prone to infection. An Archives of Internal Medicine study also showed that people who were exposed to rhinovirus (responsible for the common cold) who got a full eight-hour sleep over a two-week period had a significantly greater resistance to the virus than those who had inadequate sleep.
- BE THE MAN (OR WOMAN) OF STEEL. In other word, exercise! Not only does working out help circulate white blood cells and curb inflammation, but it also reduces stress! Even just a few minutes a day can do wonders. Right now, are there tons of new exercise videos on YouTube so no need to even have a gym in your home.
- HOLY HYGIENE, BATMAN! We cannot emphasize enough the importance of good hygiene at this time. Wash your hands before and after eating, preparing food, going outside, and petting your dog. Try not to touch your face. Clean your home regularly. Leave shoes by the door if possible, especially now. Also, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we know that health routines are going bonkers with the new stay-at-home schedule, but it’s important to keep up on your oral hygiene. Floss. Brush your teeth twice a day. Make sure you replace your toothbrush regularly. (Psst….need help? Try our one-of-a-kind RADIUS replaceable head toothbrush here. You can even subscribe so you don’t even need to remember to replace your brush head…RADIUS remembers for you!
- LAUGHTER, CONNECTION, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. Both laughter and connecting in general has been shown to strengthen your immune system because they curb those stress hormones. Now is the time to search out those funny cat videos on YouTube and FaceTime your best buddies for a virtual quarantine hang.
Right now, is the time to find that super-strength within you. By following these habits, you can be the true superhero that you and your loved ones deserve.
We at RADIUS are in this with you. Together, we have the power to stand up to COVID-19.
Keep fighting the good fight!