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Article: Building a Better Immune System

Building a Better Immune System

Building a Better Immune System

Focus on Strengthening our Immune Systems!

During this unprecedented and challenging time of COVID-19 it becomes so important to use everyday choices to stay healthy and fight off infections.  This blog post is adapted from Dr. Elizbeth Boham’s 2020 Kripalu Program, “Building a Better Immune System for Lifelong Health and Vitality”

During this weekend conference Dr. Boham outlined easy to follow nutritional and lifestyle guidelines to promote immune functioning and help us feel strong and healthy.  Listed below are the highlights:

  1. Focus on Nutrient Density – Reach for food with the highest amounts of nutrients per calorie. Zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C, E, B-6, and folate all have important influences on immune responses. Food rich in iron, zinc and selenium include meats, fish (especially salmon), shellfish, nuts and seeds, and beans and legumes.  Dark, leafy greens are excellent choices that are high in fiber, folate, vitamins C &K.  Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C.  Vitamin E rich foods include almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, bell pepper and asparagus, and EVOO.
  1. Eat the Rainbow Everyday - Plant foods are rich in phytonutrients which have amazing health benefits. They lower inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies and feed healthy microbes in our digestive system.  Power punch vegetables like broccoli, peppers, garlic, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, blueberries, beets, and carrots are all great choices.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains natural polyphenols has been shown to boost the phytonutrients (and flavor) in cooked vegetables!
  1. Embrace Mushrooms – Medicinal mushrooms like shitake, and even common mushrooms like button boost your immune system. They are one of the only natural food sources of vitamin D.  Mushrooms are rich in beta glucans that defend against viruses and have anti-angiogenic properties that help to slow tumor growth.  They activate NK (natural killer) cell activity and feed the healthful microbes in our digestive system, further preventing illness.
  1. Support you Microbiome – The microbiome consists of the good bacteria that line your skin, nasal passages and digestive system. It plays an important role in helping to control digestion and benefits the immune system.  Foods that support the microbiome include salmon and grass-fed meats, fiber rich foods, fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut, and phytonutrients. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics both orally and in your food systems.  Check labels for antibiotic free animal products.
  1. Lower your Toxic Load – Choose organic. Avoid pesticides and herbicides on your lawn and home.  Store food in glass containers.  Get your water checked for lead.  Drink alcohol in moderation.  Sweat regularly.  Eat lots of phytonutrient and fiber rich plant foods.
  1. Sleep, Rest, and Stress Management- Try to create and stick to a regular sleep schedule, aiming for 7-9 hours each night for improved immune function. Explore meditation and breath work as means of calming and organizing your central nervous system. 
  1. Movement & Exercise - I thrive on exercise. It makes me happier and healthier.  But everyone is not wired like I am.  But getting up and moving every day is so important to keeping us healthy and strong.  Walking, biking, yoga, working in the yard, playing tennis, basketball. the possibilities are endless!

As we navigate this stressful and challenging time, I am thankful for health, home and family.  It reminds me to slow down and pause in appreciation for those battling this virus on the front lines in healthcare, and to send supportive care to those who are sick or grieving. Be well.

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