I am not into all the fear and frantically grabbing for a miracle supplement but I am into staying updated on the current situation and taking practical everyday science based action steps where I can to boost the resilience and immune function of my family, no matter what is going on.
What simple things can we do everyday to help boost our immune system and shift the terrain in our body towards resilience and health? Well, as it turns out, a lot. And don’t wait to get sick, start these now!
- Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack (yes, every one). They contain many important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants to support our immune system. For example bell peppers, strawberries and oranges contain vitamin C which is antiviral, antibacterial and boosts antibody production. Camu Camu, inca berries, acerola cherries, and gogi berries are awesome sources of vitamin C also!! Vitamin E, vitamin A (also found in fermented cod liver oil and liver) and B vitamins are important too and many come from all those brightly colored foods.
- Reduce consumption of processed sugar. Sugar consumption robs our body of minerals such as zinc which is crucial for our immune system, it reduces the ability of our white blood cells to fight invaders such as viruses, Dr. Sears teaches that 1 tsp of sugar suppresses the immune system for 5 hours, high blood sugar is an immune suppressant, and glucose competes with vitamin C. Yuck!
- Reduce the overall inflammation in our body so our immune system can focus on what is important. Eliminate or reduce dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, all processed foods, toxins, pesticides, food coloring, and any foods you are personally sensitive to. Add foods like turmeric and omega 3 fats to reduce inflammation. These changes, as well as healing a ‘leaky gut’ (think bone broth) and optimizing your microbiome (think probiotics and fermented foods) will help your immune system focus on fighting invaders like viruses and bacteria instead of dealing with hard to digest foods and unnecessary inflammation.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep (Shoot for 7-9 hours) every night and do what you need to support this. Ideas include reducing caffeine, eliminating screen time before bed, using calming herbs such as camomile, passionflower, valerian and lemon balm, getting blood sugar under control, taking magnesium before bed, or taking a magnesium and lavender bath. Ahhh. My family has a pre-bed tea time ritual around the fire, which I love.
- Vitamin D is important for immune function because it activates monocytes (an immune cell) to kill viruses. We get Vitamin D from the sunshine, fatty fish, grass fed butter, egg yolks, and fermented cod liver oil. Eat up or supplement if needed with D3.
- Consume important immune minerals, including zinc and selenium. Foods rich in immune boosting minerals include pumpkin seeds, oysters, brazil nuts, lentils, cashews, shrimp, salmon, sesame seeds, and lamb. Eat some of these foods every day.
- Super Immune Plants- Other plants to include that are supportive to our immune function include elderberry, garlic, ginger, turmeric, astragalus, mushrooms (chaga, shiitake, reishi- I like these in tincture form), echinacea, goldenseal and more! Any and all herbs and spices will help too. Eat, drink, or supplement when desired for an extra immune boost.
- Laugh, rest, relax and get some playful exercise outside everyday. Stress depletes B vitamins, vitamin A and zinc and lowers immune response. I love guided imagery, breath work, or restorative yoga to chillax at home too.
- Stay hydrated. Drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water every day. Bone broths, mineral broths, and herbal teas all help.
- And off course, wash your hands with soap and water often!
Functional Nutrition is all about taking steps towards optimal overall function, in this case immune function. I consider the terrain as important as the virus. These are the things we can do to impact the terrain that health or sickness take root in. Stressing out over the situation is certainly not going to help, so we are all about action steps instead of stress.
Take a deep breath and eat up (but wash your hands first, did I already say that?)! Happy Optimizing, Janel Ferrin Anderson