Before we get started, I just want to note: I am in no way a health care professional. Always consult your doctor before incorporating a new vitamin, supplement, or other homeopathic remedy into your life.
Also, these tips and tricks can help keep you healthy, but are not meant as a cure or a foolproof way to prevent disease. Always follow proper hygiene practices and other protocols, especially since COVID-19 is still very much a thing (sorry I said the C-word). Get your flu shot every year and any other vaccines you may need.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about some simple things you can do to support a healthy immune system. In addition to the pandemic, we’re still in the thick of cold and flu season. Why not give your immune system the upper hand with some healthy living strategies?
Here are a few things I’ve incorporated into my lifestyle over the years.
Eat a Healthy Diet
It’s no secret that fruits, veggies, quality protein, and fiber are good for you. Building your diet around the right whole foods is great for your overall health, and can have a positive impact on your immune system. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
Citrus Fruit. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are your infection fighting cells. Unfortunately, since our bodies do not produce or store vitamin C, we have to get our daily dose from somewhere else.
Don’t wait until you have a cold to get the vitamin C you need. Citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits are excellent sources of vitamin C. If citrus fruit isn’t your thing, try some strawberries—they actually have more vitamin C than an orange!
Eating foods high in vitamin C is an easy way to boost immunity and replace an unhealthy snack habit with something healthier.
Yogurt. Not just any yogurt will do. Choose yogurt with active cultures, and without all the added flavors and sugar. Plain Greek yogurt is usually a safe choice. Add some citrus fruit or honey to spice up the flavor a bit—I know plain yogurt can be a little bland.
A lot is unknown about yogurt and its effect on the immune system, but some studies indicate that it may help you fight off or recover from infection. It may also help support good gut bacteria, which could positively impact your immunity.
Green Leafy Veggies. Dark leafy greens also support gut health. These super foods add fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamin C to your diet. Arugula is my favorite dark leafy green, but spinach and kale are also excellent sources of these nutrients.
If you are looking for some salad inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to start. It’s where I found this delicious recipe for a Simple Lemony Arugula Salad with Avocado.
There are other foods that can help support a healthy immune system. This list from Healthline provides many more examples.
Immunity aside, maintaining a good diet helps you lead a healthy lifestyle. And your overall health can certainly impact how your body responds when faced with disease or infection.
Use a Zicam Nasal Swab
Ok, this one might seem a little weird, but hear me out.
Each Zicam Nasal Swab box comes with 20 individually packaged little tubes of a homeopathic, zinc-free gel formula. When you snap a tube open, one end is a Q-tip shaped swab, which you then use to apply the gel formula…into your nostrils. Just a few swabs in each one, and then you are done.
Still with me? Ok, so this next part is really important.
The second you even think you might be getting sick, you need to use one of these. Use one up to five times a day until you feel better. Even if you just have a little tickle or slight soreness to your throat, grab a Zicam swab.
Maybe it’s sheer luck or just a placebo effect, but whenever I remember to use these before my symptoms become a full-blown cold, I either don’t get sick, or the duration is much shorter.
So yes, Zicam Swabs can feel a little awkward and silly—and even a little hokey. Give them a try the next time a cold starts to set in. And report back to me after because I’m curious if other people have the same success that I have had.
Pop a Vitamin
While eating a balanced diet will help you get the vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Especially if you live in a climate where the sun seems to disappear for months on end, in which case you will likely be deficient in vitamin D.
This can be a problem, since vitamin D plays an important role in supporting your immune system.
Fortunately, some studies indicate that taking a vitamin D supplement may counteract a vitamin D deficiency, reducing your risk of certain infections.
Recent research suggests that vitamin D can help prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms, though more research is needed to be conclusive.
Most adults should get a minimum of 600 IU of vitamin D a day, but be sure to check with your doctor regarding your own individual needs.
In addition to a vitamin D supplement, I also take a women’s multivitamin, zinc, and a vitamin C tablet.
As long as you are not overdoing it on the recommended daily intake for any one vitamin or mineral, it most likely can’t hurt. Even better, vitamins could support your immune system by filling in some gaps in your diet.
And again, always consult your doctor first.
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine doesn’t just help control your body weight and make you feel good. Exercise can lower your blood pressure and improves cardio vascular health by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your body tissues.
In the same way, improved circulation brought on by regular exercise moves your immune system’s cells and substances more efficiently around the body. A more efficient immune system means your body has a better chance of fighting off any unwanted invaders.
Making exercise a priority is easier, and less expensive, than you might think. There are many at-home workouts that are quick, effective, and require little more than your smart TV and a few free weights.
Daily exercise promotes better sleep as well, which brings us to another important immunity factor.
Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
As someone who struggles to fall asleep sometimes, this is an area I need to improve. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your immune system.
Studies even show that you are more likely to catch a common cold when you are not getting adequate sleep, and it can also cause a longer recovery time.
Think about the times when you’ve had a cold, and how much better you felt after a good night’s sleep. Being well-rested helps your immune system produce protective proteins and infection fighting antibodies.
If you are a healthy adult, you should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
But what if you’re an insomniac like me? These tips have helped me encourage better sleep habits:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. If you’re still awake after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Meditate. Read a book. Turn on some easy-listening music. Don’t turn on the TV or doom scroll through your phone. Return to bed when you are sleepy.
- Create a restful bedroom that is dark, cool, calm, and quiet. Use white noise like a fan or sound machine to drown out unwanted noise. And speaking of doom scrolling, try not to keep your phone on your bed stand. Exposure to light-emitting screens and stressful newsfeeds will only contribute to anxiety, keeping you up longer.
- Get that regular exercise we were talking about earlier.
These guidelines have helped me improve my sleep hygiene, but I am only human and I do fall off track sometimes. Just do your best to maintain proper sleep hygiene, and your immune system will thank you for it!
Your immune system is complex. Give it the upper hand by taking good care of yourself. Healthy lifestyle choices don’t just help your immune system ward off sickness. They also make you feel balanced and energized to be your best every day.