Looking for ways to naturally boost your immune system? Check out these fantastic tips from Dr. Arlene Dijamco!
There are many ways you can boost your immune system without having to purchase expensive supplements! Here are a few ways to keep your body healthy and fit.
I know ice cream and chips can be tempting as a soothing distraction from being quarantined. But, especially nowadays, your body deserves some love and – specifically – some nourishing immune-boosting foods. Because as a general rule, if your immune system is strong, it’s easier to get through and avoid major illnesses. With COVID-19 going around, now is the time to act.
In general, fill your tummy with veggies, especially dark leafy greens. Kale chips, for instance, are packed with multiple vitamins and minerals and easy to make. Enjoy colorful fruits (all the better if they’re local) that offer antioxidant benefits. When cooking, use “good fats,” like olive oil and avocado oil, to help lower inflammation. Choose clean proteins, whether nuts and seeds or humane animal sources. Every day, add probiotic foods – things like Braggs apple cider vinegar, yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut. Go easy on alcoholic drinks. And avoid chemical additives (i.e. food dyes, artificial flavors, etc.) that can dampen your immune response.
Don’t skimp. Sleep affects every aspect of your physiology – including your mood, insulin balance, cortisol levels, metabolism, appetite, thinking, and immune system. If you get enough sleep, you’re more likely to stay well or recover faster if you catch something.
So how much sleep do you need? Ideally, teens get about 9 to 10 hours, while younger kids feel better with 10 or more hours. For adults, aim for about 7 to 9 hours per night. A few catchups – whether you go to bed early or sleep in late -- can be beneficial if you’ve fallen behind.
Regular exercise gets your blood and lymph flowing, massaging and priming your body’s organs. The improved circulation helps your body flush out toxins and supports your body’s defenses. Having an exercise routine can also lift your spirits and make you more resilient to stress. You’ll also sleep better. Keep in mind, though, that more exercise isn’t always better in the big picture. Pushing too hard, too fast can lead to too much wear and tear while sapping your energy. Think balance and moderation instead.
A simple 20-to-30 minute walk every day can do wonders, maybe with your dog and kids by your side. Every other day, you can ramp it up with a run. Have regular dance parties with your littles. Sign up for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. Take online yoga or pilates classes. Try tai chi or qi gong. Shoot baskets or juggle soccer balls in the yard. The point is to do something to get your body moving.
Your body responds to the way you think. If your mind is racing, your body will be stressed – and all the negative stuff that comes with that. By stepping into stillness with meditation, you let your thoughts calm down. Then, your body can follow. Done regularly, meditation can strengthen your immunity and cognition while decreasing stress hormones and inflammation.
What is “meditation?” Start by really being aware of your breathing. For more calm, slow your breathing down and let your exhale be at least twice as long as your inhale. If you’d like, focus on a mantra – I like to use, “I am love” – that settles you down and offers perspective. Being truly relaxed can lower stress and anxiety; lower stress and anxiety, in turn, is good for your body.
The cells in your body love the sound of you singing. It’s true! A 2016 study looked at 193 members in five choirs. After one hour of singing, the choir members felt happier, had lower stress hormones, and – get this! -- increased infection-fighting antibodies. Singing also strengthens your muscles of breathing and can help improve lung function.
So go ahead, be brave, and sing! Whether in the shower, karaoke with your family, or in a Zoom group, feel free to express yourself in song. And while you’re doing it, dance! (Remember what was said above moving your body?) That way, you can have a doubly positive benefit.
It’s no joke that laughter releases tension and stress. When it does, your body, mind, and soul feel better. Studies have shown that laughing boosts feel-good endorphins and immune cells. It exercises your diaphragm and helps keep your lungs open. As a bonus, a good sense of humor can act as a natural pain-reliever and help you live longer. Plus, laughter is the very best kind of contagious, so your chuckling and silly jokes can help your family and friends!
Even within a global pandemic, humor abounds within funny memes and jokes to lighten the intensity of what we’re all going through. In this time of cocooning, make time to watch funny movies, tell jokes (note from my husband: “Dad Jokes Rule!”), and giggle with the kids. Your whole family will thank you for it.
The viral pandemic has spawned a pandemic of kindness. Grassroots groups are making masks for healthcare workers. People in Italy are singing together from their balconies. Volunteers from all over are gathering food and necessities to those in need. In this time of crisis, people may be physically isolated yet they’re still finding ways to work together for the common good. Being kind and understanding helps you boost levels of salivary IgA (that’s a type of immune-fighting cell) by 50% in just five minutes. Talk about a quantum immune boost! Even watching acts of kindness can have a similar effect. So practice tuning into compassion in the world. How can you be kind in times like this? You don’t have to donate $1 million. Maybe call or Zoom someone that’s alone. Let people, like the neighbor across the street, know you care. Say thank you to the supermarket cashier. Be considerate to whoever you’re quarantined with. (And this includes being nice to yourself.) Let the ripple effect of kindness begin with you.
Your immune system is your body's defense against disease, infection, illness from the outside world. With these tips, you can live a healthier, happier lifestyle, even in the midst of our world's new and uncertain territory. Creating a routine that promotes health and wellness is perhaps more important now than ever. You've got this!
Dr. Arlene Dijamco, aka The MultiDimensional MD, is an integrative physician, pediatrician, and cranial osteopath, who studied at Harvard, Emory, and Albert Einstein. Her therapeutic toolbox expanded tremendously after completing Dr. Andrew Weil’s two-year integrative medicine fellowship. She is known for her intuitive knack, helping people nourish and balance the body, mind, and spirit. She is the founder of the All Worlds Health family, which includes her practice near Atlanta, nonprofit serving people in need, and online school. At home, she is a yoga novice, awesome wife, and mom to four incredible girls. Learn more and sign up for her e-love letters at allworldshealth.com, and follow her @allworldshealth on Instagram or Facebook.