With the recent Coronavirus outbreak, many people are finding themselves thinking more about their immune system than they typically do – and rightfully so!
The CDC has provided tips like washing your hands thoroughly and often, keep frequently touched surfaces clean and disinfected, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and avoid touching your face.
While these are great and helpful, there is even more you can do to decrease your chances of getting sick – whether it’s Coronavirus or the common cold/flu – like boosting your immune system.
One big thing the CDC’s suggestions have in common, is focusing on what is in your control, rather than getting swept up in ‘what if’ scenarios. That creates stress, which is something that actually weakens the immune system.
Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol which reduces antibodies in the gut and respiratory tract that protect us against pathogens.
To keep your stress in check, think about activities you enjoy that give you a feeling of calmness, and see where you can add them in. Maybe yoga, meditation, deep breathing, adult coloring books, or going for a walk. Also active-activities/exercise you enjoy can help as well by releasing feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, like doing a fun workout class or singing along/dancing to an upbeat playlist. Be cautious not to overdo it though, rest/recovery also supports the immune system.
Be mindful of your sugar and low-quality sodium intake (from processed/pre-packaged/canned foods). Since restriction typically leads to cravings, overeating, and even bingeing, rather than actively trying to avoid those things, shift your focus to adding.
Focus on adding into your diet and eating well-balanced meals/snacks that emphasize plant-based foods. That is one of the best things you can do to ensure you’re arming your body with macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins, and minerals it needs to keep you healthy.
Here are some immune-boosting foods to focus on adding into your diet:
Getting in 7-8 hours of sleep is really helpful too. Lack of sleep can cause the inflammatory immune response to activate, weakening your immune system.
Spending time out in the sun is one of the major contributors to the production of Vitamin D in our body – which is essential for healthy functioning of the immune system (helps the body to produce antibodies). Even a walk or sitting in a chair in your yard in the sunlight for 10–15 minutes will ensure that enough Vitamin D is produced in the body.
If you’re into supplementation, some helpful things to consider are a high-quality probiotic (80% of our immune system is located in our gut so it’s helpful to keep our gut happy), elderberry (I love these or these chewable gummies), and vitamin C (be mindful of extra ingredients that lurk in some – this is what I use).
Staying hydrated is also key – with the focus on filtered water. Anything else (carbonated drinks, juices, coffee, etc) doesn’t count in the hydration category. Sugary beverages can actually increase dehydration. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water a day.
Speaking of hydration, here’s a tasty recipe to start your day off on the right foot with, or enjoy in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.
This lemon water “quarantini” mocktail will not only will it hydrate you, detoxify your cells, stimulate your organs, and get your body ready for all that you throw at it all day, but its ingredients support cleansing your blood, improving brain function, easing aches and pains, aiding in digestion, and of course boosting your immune system to fight illness. It incorporates an ingredient I love for so many other reasons too: apple cider vinegar which helps balance your body’s pH among many other awesome things.
To get the most juice out of your lemons, here are a couple tips! If it’s super hard, stick it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Then, put it on the counter and press down on it with your palm, while rolling it back and forth. This will help release all those great juices! Then, use a hand citrus juicer like this one.
You can prep this all the night before and leave it out on your counter so it’s ready to grab and sip as soon as you wake up, or drink it in the afternoon for a pick-me-up.
There are plenty of flavor combination variations, find one you love and stick with it, or mix it up!
Immunity Mocktail Recipe
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Boost your immune system with this tasty mocktail! Have fun mixing and matching the booster ingredients.
- BASE RECIPE:
- 16 oz room temp or warm water
- Juice from 1/2 – 1 large lemon
- 1/2 – 2 teaspoons Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar*
- OPTIONAL BOOSTERS (MIX & MATCH):
- Fresh grated or powdered ginger
- Fresh grated or powdered turmeric
- (+1/16 teaspoon black pepper if using turmeric)
- Cayenne pepper
- Sea salt
- Raw local honey
- Add all ingredients to your glass and stir well. I recommend using a hand-held citrus juicer to squeeze in lemon juice. If using honey, you may need to let it sit a little bit for the honey to fully dissolve.
* Start with 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar first, then increase by 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
If you feel nauseous or experience tightness in the chest after drinking this, omit the apple cider vinegar. This reaction can occur from the body’s releasing of bacteria and unwanted toxins. Do this for at least 3-5 days, and then try to re-introduce or use ½ teaspoon of the apple cider vinegar