Immune health made headlines in 2020, but it's not just a trending topic. As your body's first line of defense, your immunity is one of the most crucial facets of your well-being. Made up of many layers, it helps repel bacteria, viruses, and germs - in short, the very things that cause disease. And with the flu season sweeping the country - not to mention COVID-19 - it's more important than ever to keep your immunity in tip-top shape. Here are eight nifty ways to take charge of it today.
How to improve the health of the immune system
1. Prioritize sleep
The 24-hour news cycle, increasing deadlines, interpersonal complications, global and economic issues - all can take their toll on your ability to get a good night's sleep. And even, sleep is one of the safest ways to keep your immune system working. Why? Because not only does rest help your mind and body recover from daily stress, a lack of sleep also lowers your natural production of cytokines—Protective proteins essential to your immune system's ability to manage infection and disease.
If you're struggling to get a proper, rejuvenating closure, start treating the whole exertion as seriously as you would your work or training: step away from your electronics two hours before bed. , reduce your alcohol consumption, eat dinner at least two to three hours before you hit the hay, and relax the right way with a lavender-infused bath or a few gentle stretches.
2. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin D†
The sunshine vitamin - as vitamin D has come to be known - doesn't just give you a better outlook on life: the fat-soluble vitamin, which is stored in your liver and fatty tissue, supports everything from your cardiovascular well-being to your health. bone. health. It also plays a vital role in your immune health by playing a role in the body's inflammatory responses - a huge area of concern in the COVID age - and by supporting white blood cells, which circulate in your bloodstream and fight infections. by attacking foreign pathogens.†
Direct exposure to the sun - as in, without sunscreen - is the most efficient way to absorb this important nutrient, but it can also be found in foods rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, fortified milk, Maitake and Portobello eggs and mushrooms. That said, since fifty percent of the population may be deficient in this essential vitamin, you may want to have your healthcare professional do a blood test to check your levels. If you run out, he can then advise you on a vitamin D supplement and an appropriate dosage.†
3. Strive for a complete diet
… And we don't mean the fancy grocery store. A diet rich in organic whole foods - read: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed grains, and nuts - contributes to a healthy immune system. How? 'Or' What? Take it from Yufang Li, MD, of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic: "Eighty percent of yourthe mmune system is in the intestine, So when it's healthy, we tend to be able to fight off infections faster and better. When it doesn't, our immune system is weaker and more likely to fight infections. "
Still not convinced you should drop that fried chicken? Keep in mind that excess meat, as well as fried and processed foods, are generally inflammatory. While cleaning up your diet, give probiotics (a supplement or fermented foods) also try: healthy gut flora helps generate more antibodies, proteins that protect you against infections.
4. Zinc supplement
Found in cells all over the body, zinc is essential for boosting your immune system. As well as helping with hormonal function and digestion, the mineral helps you prevent infections by fight against incoming viruses and bacteria. Additionally, zinc is needed to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material of cells, and strong cells contribute to robust health.†
While a number of foods naturally increase your zinc intake, including oysters, red meat, fortified grains, and dairy products, up to twelve percent of the population - and forty percent of the elderly - may need more. To the rescue: A quality supplement. New Chapter Fermented Zinc Complex, on the one hand, contains 15 mg of this superstar nutrient, along with elderberry and astragalus, two herbs also associated with immune well-being.†
5. Try herbs for extra support†
… And speaking of herbs: There are a number of herbal remedies that can organically boost immune health as well. Curcumin, for example, is rich in antioxidant properties that help you wage war against alien invaders. Peppermint, on the other hand, naturally encourages healthy digestion, which improves immunity. Roobius has tremendous amounts of vitamin C, thereby promoting the production of these aforementioned white blood cells. The popular echinacea is packed with polysaccharides that stimulate the release of natural killer cells, while, according to the National Institutes of Health, American ginseng supports a number of healthy immune functions, including resistance to disease and microbial attack. And don't forget the power of the lowly chamomile: The herb is packed with phenolic compounds that support immune health.†
6. Enjoy a comedy
Whether listening to your favorite comedian on Pandora or in the form of a romantic comedy, know this: Laughter has been scientifically proven to boost immune health.
This is because laughter - which naturally and almost immediately improves your mood - increases the number of antibodies in your blood, including those to white blood cells which are so essential to a healthy immune response. In addition, laughter can increase the level of antibodies in mucus made in the nose and airways - the primary means of access to germs.
7. Put on your running shoes
You don't necessarily have to run but you make need to move - and often. Exercise of any kind - walking, swimming, biking, dancing in your living room - causes your body's antibodies and white blood cells to spread faster, improving your immune system's ability to detect and fight off dangerous intruders.
Need more motivation? A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who exercised at least five days a week were half as likely to get sick as those who were sedentary. None of this means you have to be a slave to the treadmill or free weights either - indeed, more than-Exercise can strain and weaken your immune system, but this means that you should try to get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise daily.
8. Fight stress intelligently
Another reason to consider # 6 and # 7: A lot of research has found that exercise lowers stress hormones, and stress hormones are directly linked to a healthy immune system. In fact, chronic stress - the type of stress you struggle with almost daily -increases the level of cortisol in your blood, which can increase inflammation, compromising your ability to initiate an appropriate immune response. In addition, long-lasting stress can affect the performance of major immune cells, such as lymphocytes, which help you fend off disease.
While To manage stress wisely is sometimes easier said than done, engaging in ongoing practices can facilitate resilience to significant, everyday stressors and help you recover faster. A few to try: meditation, yoga, reading (and not outside of your GI diet), martial arts, breathing work, a nature walk and even slowly and purposefully cleaning your house - in summary, anything that requires you to press Take a break from your life and enjoy all the vitality around and within you.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
For some people, crunches and other abdominal bourrinage workouts are the last thing they’d want to do — so they don’t. ' Part of the perception is that it’s difficult. We tend to want to avoid doing things that require effort, especially as we get older, when that’s harder for us, ' says Lorna Brown, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
But skipping abdominal strengtheners can have a big effect on your mobility and independence — and not for the better.
The abdominal groupes de muscles ( often called the abs ) include not just the visible ' six-pack ' or rectus abdominis groupes musculaires in the front of your abdomen, but also the obliques in the front and side of your abdomen and the transverse abdominis across your lower abdomen. ' The transverse abdominis is the inner bourrinage underneath the outer abdominal layers. It provides stability around the spine, ' Brown explains.
The abs are part of your core, the collection of muscles that act as your foundation. In addition to your abs, your core includes the groupes musculaires along your spine, near your shoulder blades, in your hips and buttocks, and in your pelvis.
You must work all your core groupes musculaires to stay strong and réactive. ' We need that strong core or base so that the arms and legs can perform well, ' Brown explains.
What if you don’t mind doing shoulder, hip, and back muscle exercises, but can’t stand the ab workout ? You’re putting your entire core in jeopardy. ' If your core isn’t ne change pas and strong, you increase the risk for injury and falls when you lift something or walk, ' Brown says. A weak core also makes it hard to turn, bend, and get dressed.
Starting position : Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral.
Move of the month : Abdominal contractionPhotography : Michael CarrollStarting place : Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral. Movement : Exhale as you tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling them up toward your spine. Keep your spine neutral ( no arching your back ! ). Hold. Release your abdominal zones musculaires and return to the starting position. Do this eight to 10 times, then rest for 30 to seconds. If you can, repeat the sequence.
Abdominal exercises don’t have to include crunches, and you don’t have to do a long ab workout. You may find it more palatable to sprinkle ab exercises throughout the day. ' Shorter segments of exercise can still contribute to better health and function, ' Brown says. The key is to make each ab exercise count by ' activating ' the zones musculaires.
Can’t think of ways to fit abdominal exercises into your schedule ? Check out the Harvard Special Health Report Gentle Core ( www. health. harvard. edu/gc ), and consider the following tricks.
Watch TV from the floor. You probably did this when you were a kid. Try it now, and maybe you’ll be more likely to do an ab exercise, like modified push-ups ( leaning on your forearms instead of your hands ). ' Or try lying on your back with your knees bent, ' suggests Brown. ' Then activate the abdominal groupes musculaires by drawing in your belly button toward the spine. '
Use phone time. Stand with your back flat against the wall while chatting on the phone. Activate your abs. ' Draw in your belly button again, and push yourself against the wall, ' says Brown
Take a break from work. Whether you’re in the kitchen or at the office, you can do a modified push-up against a desk or counter.
Don’t just stand there. Sneak in an exercise while you stand in line at the bank or grocery checkout. ' Do a single-leg stand and slightly lift your leg off the floor while activating your core muscles, ' Brown suggests. ' Keep your chest high and your shoulder blades down and back. '
March in place. Next time you’re brushing your teeth, march in place. ' Make it intentional. Draw in the abdominals and keep your hips level, so they’re not swiveling, ' Brown adds
You can even activate the abdominal muscles while you’re walking. ' Just be very intentional about it, ' says Brown. Think about position and bourrinage activation with each step. The more often you activate your abs, the stronger they’ll become, making ab workouts a lot less daunting.