But when our bodies and minds are vulnerable and uncertainties surround us, our everyday lifestyle habits are a big determinant of how we can fare in these times.
What we choose to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether we steer our mindset to the positive or negative, whether we adhere to a restful sleep routine, and how we move our bodies have a tremendous impact. These everyday decisions can turn on or off our immune system and protect our emotional and physical health.
Here are some lifestyle tools to build a healthy immune system to protect ourselves in current and future vulnerable times:
- Get active in simple ways: Take the stairs, get up and walk inside for 5 minutes on the hour and do simple home exercise with hand weights or stretch bands. As little as 20 minutes of exercise suppresses inflammation and supports a healthy immune system. Activity also boosts endorphins, our happiness hormone. And when the time is right, exercise in nature is specifically associated with improved mood and physiology.
- Love these foods that will love you back: Fill your plate with plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts, and spices. Not only are they mega packed with antioxidants that tap down inflammation but also with natural sources of fiber which vitally nourish our immunity boosting gut microbiome. This is also the time to avoid processed and fried foods which fall into the pro-inflammatory category.
- Stay positive and share a smile whenever you can. Oxytocin, a “feel good” hormone, is released when we positively connect with others. Positive emotions that arise from even brief, virtual social connections positively influence our health.
- Leave work at the door when the day is done: Whether your workday is virtual or in person- and particularly when you turn out the lights to rest and restore for the upcoming day. Turn off your blue light devices and any information streams for 2 hours before your head hits the pillow. Let your body really restore itself and boost immunity overnight.
In times when vulnerability and uncertainties surround us, press pause, establish and develop the best lifestyle immune-supporting habits starting today. Make a choice that can lead to your healthier tomorrow.
This information is provided by El Camino Health Lifestyle Medicine.
This article first appeared in the April 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.