Supporting your immune system is going to support your physical health but also your mental health.
When your body is taken care of, you can have some extra energy to take on whatever life throws your way and even extra energy for hobbies and creativity.
We understand a busy life so here are 6 tips on immune health and the one we think is the most beneficial.
You don’t make zinc in your body, that means you have to get it from outside sources. Zinc maintains the integrity of your immune system by supporting the development and function of white blood cells that fight bacterial and viral infections. Food sources: oysters and other shellfish, red meat, eggs, pumpkin seeds, pumpkinseed butter, fortified foods like nut milks (read the back to ensure it’s there).
2. Vitamin D
Your body produces vitamin D naturally when directly exposed to sunlight. Roll up your sleeves when you’re out for a walk and let the sun soak in! Because of where we are situated in relation to the equator (if you’re reading from Ucluelet or Tofino), it can be harder for us to get vitamin D from the sun. How does it work? When a T cell (our inner mini warriors defending our body) is exposed to a foreign pathogen, like a virus, it sends out a flag (the vitamin D receptor) to get the vitamin D’s attention. It searches for vitamin D to come help it function. If there isn’t vitamin D available- the T cell will not activate. Translation- no vitamin D= non effective defenders Ways to increase vitamin D and absorption: eating salmon, mushrooms, eggs, fortified foods like milk, nut milk and some cereals, 10-30 minutes of sunscreen (to-30 minutes) and supplementation of vitamin D.
3. Eating the Rainbow
Variety of colors means a variety of nutrients. There are many nutrients that support the immune system but by eating the rainbow- you don’t even have to focus on the details. Let’s keep this simple- when you’re shopping, try to back in as many colours as possible.
4. Fermented Foods
The microbiome plays an active role in defending us against various harmful bacteria and viruses. Not just the microbiome in our gut but all over our entire body. How they work together is complex, dynamic and context dependent. It’s being researched heavily. What we know for sure is a healthy microbiome= robust immune system. Food sources: Kombucha, sauerkraut, pickled foods, apple cider vinegar, kimchi, yogurt, miso and natto.
5. Walk in Nature
An excerpt from Forest Bathing by Dr. Qing Li
“I took measurements on a normal working day before the trip and again one, two, seven and thirty days after the trip was over. The results showed that natural killer activity and the number of natural killer cells were significantly increased after forest-bathing and that this effect lasted not just for seven days but for as long as thirty days.”
Natural Killer Cells
Natural killer cells control viral infections by destroying virus infected cells during infection. They limit the replication of the virus and transmission.How it works: Forest bathing is not a brisk workout in the forest but a slow and steady intentional walk while being mindful of the sounds and smells.
A quality sleep will increase your T cells. T cells are the little warriors that are inside fighting infections.
Here are some tips for a good sleep:
- Turn screens off at least one hour before bed
- Finish your last meal 2 hours before bed
- Have your last coffee 12 hours before sleeping
- A bedtime ritual that includes a foot massage
- Breath exercise in bed: Inhale 4 seconds, hold 7 seconds, exhale 8 seconds
- Exert energy during the day
Do you only have time for one?
Take a walk in nature or outdoors where there are plants or gardens.
Breathe deeply and take in your surroundings. Lowering stress and learning to regulate the nervous system can greatly improve the resilience of your immune system.
Our vote is to go out in to nature if you’re going to focus on one!