There is a global sense of fear, uncertainty and helplessness as we all face the same invisible enemy, covid-19.
But, Jonathan Taylor a lead fitness educator and performance specialist at Spectrum Sports Performance in Orlando, FL., says we all possess a secret weapon against this threat – your immune system.
You possess the power to build this complex, protective system from the inside out. Take care of your immune system so that it can better take care of you, Taylor writes in a story on growing bolder.com.
Remain vigilant with social-distancing, follow stay-at-home orders and stay abreast of the latest CDC recommendations, he writes.
But also use this disruption to your normal pace of life to nurture a stronger immune system as another commitment to your health.
Try these five simple steps to build a strong and resilient immune system.
1. Get enough sleep. We all know that doctors recommend adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. But did you know research shows that getting deep and consistent sleep actually improves immune function?
Adequate sleep specifically improves your immune cells, also known as T cells. In addition, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released during the body’s deep sleep cycles, which helps repair and rebuild tissue.
Can’t go to sleep? Try turning off electronic devices at least one hour before getting some shut-eye. Exposure to the blue light from electronics suppresses the release of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Build a stronger immune system in your sleep, literally!
2. Drink lots of water. The average human body is made up of about 60% water. Water is used for every process and function, including maintenance and survival!
The body can survive up to 40 days without food, but only seven days without water. Did you know that the body uses as much water during sleep as when you are awake? Translation?
We need lots of it! Drinking enough water helps your body naturally flush and eliminate toxins and bacteria that may cause illness. Consider using a reusable water bottle and tracking how many times you finish and refill it throughout the day.
Bonus, this is a sustainable practice because it means fewer glasses to wash throughout the day and no plastic water bottle waste.
3. Minimize stress. When the human body is stressed, it responds by secreting a hormone called cortisol. In fight or flight situations, this is a good thing because it increases heart rate and opens veins for greater blood flow so that you can react quickly to danger.
However, when the body is constantly exposed to cortisol because of heightened levels of fear and anxiety, this leads to greater levels of inflammation.
And what happens when you are constantly inflamed? An overworked, over-tired immune system results! Fear and stress lead to increased susceptibility to illness and infection. Try to set the electronic devices down and limit media consumption of content that makes you worry.
As Peter Pan says, “Think happy thoughts.”
4. Avoid sugar and highly processed foods. Did you know that sugar suppresses the body’s immune response for up to five hours after ingesting it? Sugar reduces the ability of white blood cells to kill pathogens (germs), therefore lowering your immune defense.
Because of this, we need good, clean fuel for our bodies to work at optimal levels. So think twice about baking those cookies while cooped-up during quarantine. Green smoothies anyone?
5. Move often. Movement is medicinal. Lower to moderate intensity movement can decrease stress levels, release dopamine (the feel-good hormone), oxygenate the body, and sweat out toxins.
Feel run down or unmotivated? Don’t overdo it. You can start small with a walk or bike ride and see how you feel afterward. I guarantee you won’t regret taking some me-time to boost your mood with exercise.
We already have within ourselves the greatest defense against any virus—our immune system.
Help it, don’t hurt it, and be confident that we will get through this together…while social-distancing of course.