In times of great uncertainty, it is more important than ever to keep a close eye on your immune system. Challenging situations inevitably bring with them stress and anxiety that can deplete the body’s natural reserves of energy and have a negative effect on our immune system. This is especially so when potentially threatening illnesses are part of the wider picture.
The immune system plays a vital role in fending off harmful pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, so keeping it in good working order should be one of our top priorities.
The first line of defense in protecting our immune system is to choose a healthy lifestyle, and to remind yourself of this choice on a daily basis! We’ll look at a range of simple, adaptable, health-boosting ideas that will help you to do this no matter what the situation.
Look To Antiviral Herbs
Nature provides an abundance of herbs that are tailor-made to support our immune system.
- Echinacea. Renowned for boosting the immune system, echinacea contains polysaccharides that enhance the production of white blood cells.
- Garlic. Garlic acts as an antimicrobial and a decongestant and is a tonic for the immune system.
- Oregano. Oregano distilled into oil is a powerhouse of scientifically proven antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Ginger. Ginger is a potent decongestant and a traditional remedy for fevers.
Related: Homemade Fermented Honey Garlic
Introduce Wild Edibles Rich In Vitamin C
On average, wild plants contain more minerals and nutrients than thee domesticated relatives of theirs that we are so accustomed to eating.
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for maintaining a strong immune system, and as it is not produced by the body it needs to be provided by what we eat. Here is a selection of commonly found wild plants that are high in vitamin C.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale). A good addition to soups or cooked greens
- Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album). Another good ingredient for soups or cooked greens.
- Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) and Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). Make a tea by steeping a heaped tablespoon of needles per cup of hot water.
- Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiollata). Use this pungent herb as a garnish or in salads.
Eat A Healthy & Balanced Diet
Making good food choices is one of the most obvious ways that we can support or deplete our immune system.
- Avoid sugary, refined and processed foods. These encourage inflammation and place stress on our immune systems.
- Choose ingredients rich in zinc. Zinc is a classic immune-boosting mineral. It is found in abundance in grass-fed lamb and beef, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and pumpkin seeds.
- Support your gut with fermented foods. Sauerkraut and kefir are loaded with beneficial probiotic bacteria.
- Eat organic and local. Avoid taxing your immune system with the remnants of toxic herbicides and pesticides found in industrially produced food. As far as possible, source your food from organic growers and local farmers who take a natural approach.
Take Gentle Exercise
Making exercise a part of your daily routine is essential for improving cardiovascular health and maintaining optimal weight.
Exercise also promotes good blood circulation and brings fresh supplies of oxygen to the cells of your immune system. In the long run, anything you can do to maintain good overall health will give the immune system a stronger position from which to operate.
At a minimum, take daily walks or bike rides and stretch your body regularly. Seek out simple aerobic routines or yoga classes online if you want a more structured approach to exercise. Remember that over-exercising or pushing yourself too hard will be interpreted by the body as stress.
For this reason, it is best to keep your routines within a framework that you are accustomed to and make any adjustments to your exercise patterns gradually.
Get Plentiful Sleep
Sleep is key to the optimal functioning of our minds and bodies. Many of us constantly run on empty, with caffeine habits masking our true levels of exhaustion. Look at your night-time routine and consider if you can make improvements with the following measures.
- Avoid stimulants close to bedtime. Caffeine or nicotine will disrupt your ability to sleep properly through the night.
- Stay away from rich and spicy foods in the evening. These can cause indigestion that makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time helps the body to establish a regular sleep-wake cycle.
- Limit screen time before bed. Screens emit a stimulating blue light that tricks our brains into thinking it is still daytime.
- Choose relaxing activities for at least an hour before bed. Meditation, reading or a taking warm bath are good options for sending our system the message that it is time to wind down.
- Ensure that your bedroom is dark, quiet and not too hot. The recommended temperature range for comfortable sleep is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
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