Tips for optimizing your immune system naturally
[Photo: Anna Tukhfatullina]
It feels a bit odd to talk about avoiding a cold or flu in the middle of a pandemic, but here we are.
Coronavirus aside, the more you can boost up your immune system, the better you'll do during other virus season, and more time you can enjoy running, hiking and exploring the great outdoors -- so it's definitely worth the extra effort!
Here are a few of our top tips on optimizing your immune system this winter.
This one may seem like a no-brainer as you adjust your Covid-19 facemask and apply hand sanitizer for the 100th time today. Still, it's important to remember to wash your hands properly, and to consider other ways infections might spread, such as taking time to cook your meat properly, wash your fruits and veggies well, and if you get a scrape or cut on the trail, make sure you take the time to wash and bandage it properly. For more on infections, check out this handy guide from Harvard Health.
Drink plenty of fluids
How much, really? According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine the answer is about 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluids a day for men. and 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) for women. Now, as the Mayo Clinic points out in this helpful article, this varies and that doesn't all have to come via glasses of water. 8-10 cups of water a day should do it, based on your activity levels, with the rest coming from other foods. Check out their breakdown here which also discusses the risk of drinking too much water.
Get plenty of exercise
Here at The All-Season Co., we're partial to running and hiking outdoors to get the pulse rate up and to soak in the vitamin D. However, whether it's a leisurely walk around the block, up and down some stairs or finding a great indoor workout during quarantine, the important thing is to just keep moving. If you have been less active during Covid, or if you are just starting an exercise routine, best to Zoom or visit your doctor to discuss before getting the heart rate up too much.
Vitamins and minerals are crucial to maintaining your immune system, and you can find them in high supply if you eat well, and colorfully.
Here are a few of our favorite immunity-boosting foods:
• Turmeric, which contains the anti-oxidant element curcumin;
• Berries such as blueberries (flavanoids), strawberries (vitamin C), and elderberries, which recent studies show is highly effective against the flu;
• Legumes, like chick peas and lentils, deliver a high amount of zinc (about 12% of your daily amount per 100g), which is good fuel for your immune system;
• Citrus fruits, which are basically vitamin C flavour bombs;
• Spinach, for the vitamin A, C, folate, magnesium - and the great taste! (right?);
• Ginger and garlic - mixed together, added to a drink, in a salad dressing or straight up;
• Sunflower seeds and almonds provide rich amounts of vitamin E, iron and protein - check, check and check;
• And unless you're a vegetarian or have allergies, chicken, shellfish and salmon provide a variety of protein, omega-3s and other immunity building elements.
And if you can't get enough nutrients via your diet, then looking to supplements to top up is something to consider, focusing on vitamins A, C, E and zinc (note: too much zinc it can overheat your immune system, so check this guide out for more info.)
This is the one that takes the least amount of effort (unless you are fighting sleep issues, in which case hopefully some of the above will help!), and is an easy two step process: lie down and close your eyes. While guidelines vary around how much sleep you actually need (depending on age and other variables) – if you can get seven or eight hours sleep, you're probably doing your body a well-earned service.
We asked our All-Season Instagram community for their top immunity boosting tips. A few of the responses we received included @girl_from_mars, who suggested lots of vitamin D. Laurie (@laurie_runs) had some really good ones including tips like "avoid processed food, exercise daily, laugh and drink lots of water" and Michael (@mike_runs_from_his_problems) replied with the very practical advice: "Don't share pens."
Please note: while these are some of the things that work best for us here at All-Season, we aren't medical professionals, and you should definitely consult your doctor if looking for specific advice.