Updated: Apr 11
During these times it is vital that we armor ourselves with not only how to avoid COVID-19...but rather defend ourselves from it.
As has been consistently shown, those with a weakened immune system are the most susceptible to this virus. This article is to equip you with the predominant knowledge available to maximize your immune system; in order to keep you safe, healthy, and happy.
Needless to say, fit people have strong immune systems; and how do they get fit? They stay active. But what does being "active" mean? Is aerobic exercise better? Or resistance training? The answer is a little bit of everything. Aerobic exercise has been shown to quickly boost the immune system shortly after engaging in an aerobic routine (Article), but research also suggests that fit muscles are also strongly correlated with a stronger immune system. So for the short term, get out and run!...but for the long term, you'll need to learn how to lift weights. The predominant suggested amount of aerobic/resistance exercise is 3-4 times per week. (Article)
Here are a couple example workouts that will provide the aerobic stimulus while also strengthening your muscles.
Repeat as many cycles as possible, in 20 minutes:
Walk, jog, or run approximately 100m (no need to break out the ruler, this should simply be a quick run)
20 alternating reverse lunges (10 each leg)
20 alternating reverse lunges (10 each leg)
20 Air Squats
* Don't be shy to get outside! There are many physiological, and psychological, benefits to running and getting in touch with nature!
What we consume is literally the components that allow our body to build our immune system; without proper consumption of these essential building blocks will yield only a subpar immune system. These7 foods that are high in these immune system promoting building blocks. You can discover delicious recipes that incorporate these ingredients in our Fuel Vault. To provide you the tools necessary to cook better from home, we are offering this resource FREE for April.
Spinach - high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene
Bell Pepper - high in Vitamin A, C and E (promote production of White Blood Cell count)
Garlic - antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory from a chemical called Allicin
Ginger - anti-inflammatory
Yogurt/Probiotic food - probiotics assist in digestion, therefore assisting in the resistance of toxin uptake and promotion of essential nutrient absorption
Poultry - high in Vitamin B6 as well as gut healing properties from broth (ie. collagen)
Beans and Nuts - high in Zinc
It is important to say that we, by far, do not have a full grasp on the biological effects of food on our body and therefore would be ignorant to say that only a few food items are the secret to maximizing your immune system. The keep it simple attitude, still prevails...Eat a well balanced diet of all foods to "cover all bases" in maximizing your immune system.
This natural supplement is our favorite because it has consistently shown the most evidence to support our immune system.
Echinacea - Echinacea, derived from flowers, not only has the potential to support the fight against viruses and infections, but also has been shown in some cases lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation in osteoarthritic patients, and even suppress the growth of the bacteria that causes acne. The level of dosage does varies amongst individuals and application, but the following dosages have been shown to assist in immune support:
Dry powdered extract: 300–500 mg of Echinacea purpurea, three times daily.
Liquid extract tinctures: 2.5 ml, three times daily, or up to 10 ml daily. (Article)
It is important to note that this category should not be the first line of defense. While supplements can have a profound effect, the truth is consuming them will be equivalent to having a Diet Coke with your Big Mac, if you are not doing the major immune support tactics.
Sleep at least 8 hours per day; as a lack of sleep makes fewer cytokines, a major cell within the immune system. If you are unable to achieve 8 hours of sleep due to a busy work schedule, the Sleep Foundation suggests taking 2-30 minute naps during the day. (Article)
Do not underestimate the power of sleep, or the effect and consequence of a lack thereof. The body undergoes "maintenance repair" while we sleep. Just as our car will eventually breakdown if we don't do the proper maintenance, our bodies will also eventually breakdown if we don't allow this time for maintenance; and our immune system is one of the first systems to begin to fail.
DRINK IN MODERATION
Excessive drinking lowers the number and function of three of the major players in your immune system: macrophages, T and C cells. While we all may have a different idea of "moderation" ;-), the predominant recommendation is no more than one drink per day (ie. one 12oz. beer).
IMPORTANT: Although past studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits (e.g., reducing risk of heart disease), recent studies show this may not be true. While some studies have found improved health outcomes among moderate drinkers, it’s impossible to conclude whether these improved outcomes are due to moderate alcohol consumption or other differences in behaviors or genetics between people who drink moderately and people who don’t.
According to an observational study in 1,000 people, people with obesity who were administered the flu vaccine were twice as likely to still get the flu than individuals without obesity who received the vaccine.
It is also crucial to stop the negative self-talk. This does not serve our ability to make change, nor does it do any good to maintain a healthy immune system. A constant identification of "being fat" instead of "having fat", cripples our ability to be anything different. We will be stuck in the mindset that acts in accordance of a "fat person." A more productive mindset is to recognize that although we may HAVE fat that we wish to lose, we must identify as a healthy person today; and as such we will eat, train, and live according to this new identity. The resulting change in body composition will be an inevitable...fortunate...byproduct.
MINDSET (most beneficial component)
Stress activates our immune system as a protection mechanism from inherent danger or damage.
For example, if we were being chased by a bear, the stress would kick in our immune system to prepare us for the potential mauling by releasing chemicals that will attempt to protect our survival. These inflammatory chemicals are good in this case, but not so good to have elevated daily. When elevated daily, our immune system essentially "burns out", and stops reacting to all stress; even when we get sick.
Therefore, I encourage you to not only do the essential immune boosting opportunities presented above, but more importantly, start with the thoughts going on in your head, and remind yourself of this important message:
“Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.”
The stress we are feeling is largely the lack of control over our environment. While, yes, there are more things out of our control than are in our control, we must regain our sense of control by focusing those things that we can.
Only then will we lower our level of stress, sharpen our immune system, and give our body the ability to take on the real threats to our life and happiness.
If you have found this article beneficial to you, please share. Together we can overcome.
- Live Intentionally,