Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Boost Immune System

Let’s face it, with the everyday hustle and bustle of work, taking care of kids, taking care of aging parents, making sure we are active in our community and supporting others in need we often forget to take care of ourselves. On top of everything else, we now have a health pandemic to figure out just how to handle the added stress of quarantine life, figuring out when is the best time to get back to “normal” and making sure we all stay protected. It’s a lot. No wonder our immune system is lacking.

The path to improved health

The great thing about healthy lifestyles is you can start anytime and anywhere in any health condition. Just like the old adage “The best time to plant a tree was last year, the second best time was yesterday and the third best time is today”, so is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Just start. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Baby steps is the key to starting a complete overhaul of anything AND to maintaining those changes. Maintaining good health doesn’t just happen though, it requires work, smart lifestyle choices and the occasional health check-up. More and more research is showing that the key to lifelong health good health is what health experts are calling “lifestyle medicine”, which is achieved mostly by making changes to diet, exercise and stress management.

5 easy ways to improve your health now

1. Diet: Learning how to eat healthy can be a daunting task and feel overwhelming. I commonly suggest just adding more fruits and vegetables to an everyday habit as a start. Once that becomes common place, I then suggest adding more. The big goal is 7-10 servings of fruits and veggies each and every day for the biggest bang and boost in your immune system which is why it’s #1 on my priority list. The added antioxidants to your body helps it fight anything that comes it’s way. Placing importance on the quality of foods we consume and opting for organic selections whenever possible helps limit our exposure to excess toxins. Our food sources are now loaded with so many pesticides and chemicals that unfortunately do far more harm than good when we ingest them. Now that we’ve chatted about what to eat more of, let’s talk about what to consume less of: alcohol, sugar, sodium, and saturated fats are the big four to steer clear of or greatly reduce. And if you are a smoker, consider quitting.

2. Sleep: Aiming for eight straight hours of shut eye each night here. Many of our patients struggle with anxiety and insomnia which is heightened over the past few months with the added pressures of Covid 19. Skimping on sleep greatly affects every aspect of our life, especially our immune system. Studies show that too little sleep weakens our immune system making us more susceptible to colds and viruses that come our way.

3. Exercise: Did you know that exercising daily can reduce the biomarkers of aging? This doesn’t mean you have to join a crossfit gym or run a marathon every day. More like, just get out and move your body. Daily. Take walk after dinner, take the stairs, have a dance-shesh in your living room, get a puppy and you’ll never sit down. Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise each day has impact on our health, and weight bearing exercises also help prevent osteoporosis.

4. Power of positivity: In Chinese Medicine there is a saying “energy flows to where the mind goes”. Research also shows a healthy positive attitude helps build a healthier immune system and boosts overall health. Turns out, your body believes what you think, so focus on the positive. Starting with a daily gratitude exercise is super helpful by listing 3-5 things you are grateful each and every day.

5. Stress less: Since we know chronic stress can cause inflammatory problems over long periods of time, it’s best get a handle on the things that cause us the most stress. In times of stress our body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to help us manage the stressful situation. Fight or flight. Deal with the immediate danger and move on. Stress that’s left unchecked contributes to many health problems such as heart disease, chronic pain, obesity and diabetes. First steps are to identify the stressor and try to remove it. If it cannot be removed, next best thing is to figure out how to deal with it in a healthy way. Things like deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, counseling, reframing the problem, massage therapy and acupuncture are all fantastic methods of stress management that keep our health in check.

 

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Written by Heather Schuerlein

Dr. Heather Schuerlein is a licensed acupuncture physician and doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine in the state of Florida. She combines her practical knowledge with over a decade of clinical experience to help guide her patients on their healthcare path.

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