With more than 89,000 reported coronavirus cases across 58 countries are y’all panicking yet? The reality is: You might not be able to control whether or not you come into contact with someone suffering from a common cold, the flu, corona, or any other illness. But, you CAN do something to boost your body’s response to fight off disease (and perhaps protect yourself from getting sick in the first place). So, instead of stressing out, think of the latest virus outbreak as an opportunity to adopt these healthy habits, strengthen your immune system, and get empowered to take the best possible care of yourself!
Stress takes a huge toll on the immune system. Various studies have shown that your state of mind greatly impacts your health. When you’re continually under stress, your brain triggers a chemical reaction, flooding your body with cortisol. This suppresses the immune system, impacts gut health, decreases white blood cells, and increases the rate of infection and tissue damage. Basically, chill out.
Here’s how respiratory illnesses, like coronavirus, spread: When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they shed droplets of saliva and other bodily fluids. If any of those droplets fall on another person or surface—and someone touches them and then touches their mouth or face—they too can become infected. When traveling on airplanes, a lot of people are crammed into a small space, making illnesses like this easy to spread. If you must hop a plane, use a disinfectant wipe to clean your seat, armrests, and tray table. Sanitize your hands frequently and wear gloves to touch bathroom surfaces. Or, if you can, “hold it” and avoid the airplane bathroom!
Processed foods are typically high in sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and artificial ingredients that lead to inflammation, weight gain, lethargy, and a slew of other health issues. Along with pre-packed junk, consider ditching inflammatory food groups like dairy and gluten.
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Studies link regular exercise to a higher number of white blood cells (which fight infection) and a stronger immune system. Don’t have time to hit the gym? No problem! The gym isn’t the only place you can go to get your body in motion. In the morning, unroll your yoga mat and try my hip-opening stretch sequence or muffin top melter ab series. You can also take advantage of the great outdoors by going for a hike or bike ride! If you’re in a pinch for time, you can even turn house chores into a mini fitness session—do some squats as you put your groceries away, try some toe raises as you wash the dishes, and run in place while waiting for your food to cook. Sometimes you have to get creative. Whatever type of workout you enjoy, the key is consistency.
Load up on fresh, colorful veggies! A few years ago, Dr. Mark Hyman wrote a guest post for The Flexible Chef blog on how colorful veggies can be a powerful form of medicine. In that post, he shared: “Beyond simply conveying calories, food is a source of special ingredients than can prevent and treat disease and transform your health. These are called phytonutrients – special plant chemicals that are not calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, but special molecules that interact with your biology. More importantly, they act like switches on your DNA to heal your body.” Read the full article here!
The best way to blast your body with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals is through fresh foods. But, sometimes we need a little extra help. So, head over to your local drug store and stock up on a multivitamin. They make specific immune-boosting supplements that are rich in zinc, folic acid, iron, vitamin B6, C, and E.
We all know sunshine provides the body with a nice dose of vitamin D, which benefits the immune system. But, there’s more to it! Research out of Georgetown University Medical Center has found sunlight also energizes T cells, which play a major role in immunity. So, lather on some sunscreen, lace up your sneakers, and get outside for a walk in the sunshine!
There’s a reason why people tell you to sleep more when you’re sick. Your body actually needs enough quality sleep to fight off diseases. It has to do with something called cytokines. When you’re drifting off into dreamland, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when your body is suffering from an infection or inflammation. Lack of quality sleep has been linked to a higher likelihood of getting sick after being exposed to a virus. Plus, it affects recovery time.
Pack Hand Sanitizer In Your Purse and Use It Religiously
To put it simply: Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands!