Face masks, hand washing, disinfecting, social distancing, and staying at home are all important preventative measures we have heard a lot about over the past several months. While these actions can go a long way in protecting your body and those around you from external transmission risks, it is also important to make sure you are protecting your body from the inside as well. Often when we think about nutrition and fitness, we are focused on our appearance or weight loss. One not so glamorous, but more important than ever side effect of a healthy lifestyle is a boost in immunity. Your immune system is your body's first line defense against bacteria and viruses. From the common cold to COVID-19, here are some steps you can take to boost immunity from the inside out:
- Eat a diet rich in whole plant foods! Plant foods contain an abundance of antioxidants that fight damaging free radicals. In addition, plant foods are rich in fiber which feeds healthy gut bacteria and encourages biodiversity in your digestive tract which houses approximately 75% of your immune system.
- Stay hydrated! Water allows your kidneys to flush toxins from your body, aids in the intake of nutrients, acts as a cell transport system, and helps all of your organs perform at their highest levels. Your immune system works most efficiently when cells are hydrated.
- Keep Moving! Try to find a way to move everyday. Keeping your body physically active helps to reduce stress, increase endorphins (happy chemicals) and enhances immunity by promoting good circulation, heart health, increasing energy levels, lowering blood pressure, improving muscle & bone strength and reducing body fat.
- Get your beauty sleep! Sleep is the ultimate restorative drug for your body. While you are sleeping, your body's cells do a lot of work of cleaning up toxins, building healthy tissues, boosting growth hormones, and fighting off disease & sickness. Your body can do all this work most efficiently and effectively while you are sleeping for 7-9 hours per night. Lack of quality sleep lowers your body's immune response.
- Manage stress. Stress can be one of the biggest siphons of immunity. When we are stressed, our body's natural defense, cortisol, a stress hormone, takes over and lowers the ability of our immune system to respond. Manage stress through a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep and by maintaining social connections with friends and family.