If ever there was a reminder that we’re all connected — and in this life together — the coronavirus pandemic is it.
I’m hoping that each of you is safe and healthy, and taking good care of yourself. And if you’re not doing well, I hope that you’re getting all of the care and support you need to heal and recover. I love and honor each one of you, and want you to live long, healthy and happy lives!
So in this week’s Wellness Wednesday, I’m sharing 5 ways to keep your immune system strong. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to “boost” the immune system.
Please know that you can’t change your immune system overnight. The healthy habits you practice on a regular basis are what strengthen and maintain your immune system, so you can better handle a crisis if one arises — whether it’s coronavirus or chronic disease.
So with that said, let’s dive right into the 5 ways to keep your immune system strong:
1) Eat a whole food, plant-based diet.
This should come as no surprise! Healthy plant-based foods — fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains — are the healthiest foods we can eat, and they’re the building blocks of a strong immune system. And of these foods, dark green leafy vegetables are the absolute healthiest. Greens like kale, collards, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, cabbage, Bok choy, broccoli rabe (rapini), mustard greens, dandelion greens, beet greens and turnip greens. Each of these greens comes with shared and unique health benefits, so it’s good to eat a variety. (I’ll be doing a separate blog post on the many ways to add dark leafy greens to your diet every day.) And also be sure to drink 6-8 cups of water every day!
2) Relax, relate, release.
The heightened worry, anxiety, and stress you may be feeling these days can wear you down and take a toll on your immune system’s defenses. So it’s more important than ever to make a conscious choice to relax. You can start by meditating each day for at least 10 minutes. If you need some inspiration and guidance, the Liberate and Calm apps are two that I’ve used and recommend. And be sure to get enough sleep each night so that you feel well-rested each morning.
3) Move your body.
Millions of us around the world are sheltering at home because of coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. Whether it’s yoga, walking, dancing, tai chi, or whatever else moves you, make sure that you’re exercising at least 30 minutes a day.
4) Get fresh air and sunshine.
Make it a point to go outside every day for at least 20 minutes. Ideally, you want to take a walk in nature or your neighborhood (while still practicing social distancing!). But even if it’s just to step out on your front porch, your backyard, your balcony, or your rooftop, be sure to breathe in some fresh air and get some Vitamin D from the sun on your face, hands, and arms each day.
Joy and laughter have a positive effect on your immune system (just as anxiety and stress have a negative effect). So continue to do things you enjoy, that make you happy, and that make you laugh out loud. Whether that’s watching a funny movie, talking to a friend, or reading/listening to a great book. I recommend using the free Overdrive app to download e-books and audiobooks from your local library.
If you’re already doing some or all of these practices on a regular basis, that’s awesome. It means you’re able to face the coronavirus pandemic with a stronger immune system. So keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re not quite there yet, now is the best time to begin these practices, so you can shore up your immune system for long-term health. Let’s get through this crisis safe and well together.