You’re washing your hands, you’re social distancing, you’re taking your vitamins—but what else can you do to boost your immune system naturally and keep yourself feeling as healthy as possible? We’re sharing our best immunity-boosting tips from Brooke Scheller, Doctor of Clinical Nutrition:
DON’T overdo it on sweets or processed snacks
The easiest and most tempting thing to grab while you’re sitting at home on your couch is a bag of chips or sugary candy. While it will give you a quick boost of energy, a diet abundant in refined sugar and processed foods has been linked with an increase in inflammation, which can put a burden on your immune system and make you more susceptible to getting sick. Plus, sugary foods can cause an energy crash making it more difficult to focus later in the day.
DO take scheduled snack breaks
Many of us can attest to the pull of mindless snacking while sitting in front of the computer screen — or continuously scrolling our Instagram feed. By giving yourself normal break times, including lunch, you can avoid that moment of realizing you finished the entire box of crackers. This will help you cut down on those processed snacks and sweets, and schedule in more nutritious foods, according to Scheller.
DON’T skip your produce
Veggies are some of our most healthy, nutrient-dense foods, chock full of the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy immune system. Foods that are rich in antioxidants help boost immune function while keeping your body happy and your mind sharp, says Scheller. Incorporate berries, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits into your daily diet for that extra dose of vitamin C. Some great veggie-based snacks include bell peppers with guacamole, celery and peanut butter, kale chips, and carrots and hummus.
DO try an immune boosting "hot shot"
Have any of these functional ingredients on hand: ginger, lemon, and garlic? They have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help fend off disease-causing pathogens. They can also increase blood flow to the brain (hello, productivity!) Blend them with apple cider vinegar, lemon and cayenne pepper and top with a dash of olive oil, which helps with absorption.
DON’T stay up late watching the news
Getting the proper amount of sleep is critical for immune system function. When we are deprived of sleep, it creates a stress response, sending the immune system into overdrive, making us more vulnerable to colds and flu. Overdoing it on the media hype also raises your stress hormones, which can throw off your sleep cycle, too.
DO move every day
Exercise increases your body’s production of protective cells to help ward off sickness, according to researchers at Appalachian State University. Bonus tip: exercise also improves mood and helps improve cognition. So if you’re feeling sluggish while sheltering at home, try an exercise app or a YouTube video to stay active wherever you are.
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