Simple Tips for a Robust Immune System

Nobody likes getting sick, but we don’t ever think much about it until we finally feel it coming. Then we find ourselves suddenly stocking up on vitamin C and drinking herbal tea, trying all the home remedy tricks we learned from our grandmothers. However, the best way to fight off illnesses is to prevent them in the first place, by doing simple things each day that boost the immune system.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep each night is so essential for a healthy immune system. Try to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sound sleep each night, which may take some practice to build up to. Studies have shown that lack of sleep significantly weakens the immune system. If you have trouble falling asleep, set up a good nightly routine to relax and prepare for sleep. Put your screens away at least an hour before bed or get some blue light protecting glasses.

Eat Your Antioxidants

Our bodies need the right fuel to fight off infections. Antioxidants clear out free radicals from the body, which can otherwise cause inflammation and weaken the immune system. Vitamins A, C, and E are rich in antioxidants and can help regulate the immune response. Make sure you’re eating your vegetables and fruits to get these essential micronutrients, and if you can’t get enough through your diet, consider taking a high-quality multivitamin.

Stop Stressing

Stress not only affects your mental well-being, but it also takes an enormous toll on your physical health. While acute stress is sometimes useful for those short bursts of adrenaline, most of us are dealing with chronic stress. This wreaks havoc on your body and can lead to adrenal fatigue, chronic low-grade inflammation, and a weakened immune system. If you’re feeling stressed out, try getting to the root of the problem and fixing that. Take some time to relax and unwind after a stressful day so that your body can recover.

Exercise, But Not Too Intensely

Exercise is so vital for overall health, but it specifically benefits the immune system by promoting helping to circulate your immune cells throughout the body.  It also lowers inflammation and reduces stress levels, which is key for a robust immune system. However, some studies have found that overly intense exercise, especially without enough recovery time, can have adverse effects on your immune health. So, exercise, but give your body enough time to recover as well.

Practice Good Hygiene

While it is essential to have a strong immune system that can fight off infections, the best way to protect yourself is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face if you haven’t. If you’re out and aren’t able to wash your hands, use sanitizer or a hand wipe.

This is an interesting time we’re living in, and boosting the immune system is at the top of everyone’s priority list. Along with these daily tasks, eating as many plants as possible will give you the strong immune system you’re longing for. Load up on veggies, drink copious amounts of fresh water, and lessen the load of environmental toxins.  Make time for things that make you happy, nourish your relationships, and make sure you feel connected. There are so many things that come together to create a robust immune system.

Foods That Help with Everyday Overwhelm

We often put a lot of thought into doing things regularly to boost our immune systems. We know the necessary items that need to be present in our diet and lives to achieve this, and we boost them even more during cold and flu season. There’s another issue we all deal with that can be combated with proactive habits — anxiety and overwhelm. I first want to be clear that I am not speaking of clinical anxiety. If you are struggling beyond basic daily life overwhelm, please consult your doctor.

For the overwhelm that comes with daily life, I like to look to ancient traditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our kidneys are the body’s central source of yin and yang. When our kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, other health problems, including anxiety, arise. The world we live in today takes a significant toll on our kidneys, whether we know it or not. These issues can be small enough to go undiagnosed by physicians but can have a substantial impact on the rest of our bodies.

Factors such as stress, poor sleep quality, environmental toxins, and alcohol can be extremely taxing on the kidneys. Chinese Medicine views the adrenal glands and the kidneys as the same organ. The adrenals are two glands that are located on top of your kidneys. They are responsible for the production and regulation of essential hormones, including those involved in the stress response. When the adrenal glands become overworked, through too much stress, lack of sleep, or those other factors, they are unable to function normally, resulting in adrenal fatigue. This leads to numerous symptoms, including insomnia, sadness, digestive problems, weak immune functioning, and especially anxiety.

Thus, by treating the kidneys through specific foods and restoring the functioning of the adrenal glands, you can help ease some symptoms of overwhelm. To feed your kidneys optimally, you should eat tangerines, plums, grapes, grains such as amaranth, rye, oats, and barley, celery, asparagus, cabbage, and black beans. However, it is beneficial to know whether your kidneys are deficient in the yin or yang and treat them accordingly. The yin is responsible for cooling and hydrating the body. If they are yin deficient, you might experience symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, dry skin, eyes, and mouth, and brittle hair. Chlorella is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the kidneys’ yin.

Spirulina, another type of algae, also works great. It would be best if you also were eating carrots, grapefruit, celery, cucumber, blueberries, soybeans, kidney beans, and watermelon. These are considered ‘cold’ foods that will help increase your yin.

Yang, on the other hand, is responsible for stimulating and warming up your body. If your kidneys are deficient in yang, you might experience diarrhea, lower back pain, fatigue, and feeling cold. Generally, symptoms are worse in the morning. If this is your case, eat “warming” foods such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, walnuts, quinoa, and black beans. Avoid any iced drinks and raw foods and try to limit your fruit intake as these are all considered ‘cooling’ foods that will only worsen your yin-yang imbalance.

Aside from foods to help stimulate healthy kidney function, meditation apps have helped me tremendously with combating daily overwhelm.  Apps such as Headspace or Calm can help you fit meditation into your schedule in just a few minutes per day, and this time to clear your mind can transform your entire day.

What are your favorite mind-clearing practices that help you stay calm?

Comment and let me know, I’d love to hear how you handle this.

Learning to listen to your body and be present with your feelings and emotions takes time and reaps bountiful rewards.

For example, most people feel anxiety as tension in their chest or their stomach. We can easily move through our day holding our breath, experiencing this feeling without giving it much thought. Next time you notice yourself feeling anxious, do a mental body scan and see where the feeling has gathered inside of your body. Does your chest feel tight? Do you feel knots in your stomach? Something else, perhaps?

Once you nail down where this feeling of tension rises in your body, you’ll be better equipped to notice and combat it promptly. Sometimes, you may not even notice you are anxious until you realize the tension.  This is the perfect time to check in with yourself. Do a quick scan and ask yourself what’s weighing on you, what’s causing you anxiety, or what’s bothering you.

Salt often gets a bad wrap, but it’s actually an essential part of your diet that’s necessary for optimal health. Finding the balance between enough and too much is important — it’s suggested to consume about 1 tsp of salt per day.

We tend to eat way more than that, though. Salt is hiding in places we don’t expect, and there are foods you may not realize are high in sodium such as:

  • salad dressings
  • soups
  • broths/stocks
  • canned foods
  • frozen foods
  • cold cuts

One thing all of these have in common is they are pre-packaged foods. A simple way to cut out excess salt is to eat as many whole foods as possible. You can even try making these items at home, such as salad dressings and making your own stocks. These are easier to make than you might think!

No matter where you’re located, I can bet we have a similar problem. For months now, disinfectant wipes are impossible to find.  They’re in high demand, for sure, and also essential to have so we can keep our surfaces as clean as possible.

There’s a very simple way to make your own disinfectant wipes at home.

In a 1-gallon glass jar, cut a roll of paper towels in half, length-wise.

Place the paper towel half into the glass jar.

Mix 1 cup Isopropyl alcohol (70% or above), 2 cups water, 1 tbsp dish soap, and 3-5 drops essential oil (optional). Some great essential oil options are orange, tea tree, or lemon.

Pour the mixture around paper towels and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Once it soaks into the paper towels, pull the cardboard middle out and toss. This will allow you to pull your wipes from the center, like in a regular disinfectant wipe canister.

Dealing with uncomfortable bloating can really put a damper on things. It’s painful, can cause your clothes not to fit well, and can overall make you feel unwell.

Here are a few of my favorite foods that help you battle the bloat:

  • watermelon
  • berries
  • cucumber
  • oranges
  • sweet potatoes

Adding fresh ginger into your food helps with this, as well. Many recipes work well with ginger, so whenever you feel it’ll be a good fit for your meal, add a sprinkle in to help.

I’m sure you’ve heard Vitamin C is excellent for boosting immunity — but did you know that zinc is another incredibly essential nutrient for building your immune system?

Zinc isn’t naturally produced in the body, so it’s imperative we supplement with high-quality supplements and eat foods rich in zinc regularly.

Some of my favorite Zinc-rich foods include:

  • legumes
  • nuts
  • oysters
  • seeds
  • whole grains
  • dark chocolate