By Clair Thomas
While we are staying safe by physical distancing, wearing masks, and using sanitizing techniques, one thing that everyone can benefit from during COVID and flu season (as well as to maintain general health) is boosting the immune system.
Our immune system is compromised when we are tired, lacking nutrition, and have stuck energy for a variety of reasons, among other things. Here are five surefire ways to boost your immunity this season and beyond.
1. Get enough sleep
Are you feeling run down, overwhelmed, and crashing at the end of the day? Likely the reason is you aren’t getting enough sleep. Most people feel the need to burn the candle at both ends - waking up early to get in a workout and staying up late to watch that late night show - however, this is detrimental to your health overall and actually negatively impacts the workouts you are waking up early to do.
A better option? Skip the late night and hit the sack around 10:00pm. In Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, the best time of day to start winding down to sleep is during the Kapha time - from 6 - 10p - so you are taking advantage of your natural inclination to slow down and are asleep before Pitta energy kicks in and is able to utilize that energy for a return to homeostasis and health.
2. Drink more water
This is one of those things that we know but are likely to forget - we are made up primarily of water and in order to keep things functioning with ease, we need to make sure that we are replenishing. The organs in your body need to have the hydration and nutrition necessary to run optimally - and when you don’t provide the resources, your body will take them from other areas - you’ll notice dry skin, cottonmouth, and potent smelling urine when the water intake is too low.
You may think you drink enough water, but commit to a week of tracking your water intake and you may be surprised at how little water you are actually drinking. Water is also incredibly helpful in moving fluids through your body that move toxins from your body, so when you are hydrated, you are much more able to move unwanted and unneeded toxins and substances from your body so that you can run like a well oiled machine.
3. Move your bowels
Are we really talking about poop here? YES! It’s time we start clearing that funk from your trunk - literally! Your guts contain a whole mini nervous system that needs to be cleared as much as possible throughout the day. When you don’t eliminate the toxic waste from your intestines, you allow it to stay inside - and instead of working to fight any new introduced viruses, your body is using energy to fight the toxins already living inside of your gut.
A good rule of thumb is to move your bowels after every meal. Seem like a lot? Well, you should be using the nutrients and moving the waste efficiently and effectively and if not, there is likely an underlying issue. Incorporate more fiber (aka veggies), drink more water, and avoid coffee as your only stimulus to poop.
4. Move your body
A regular workout routine is key in moving stuck energy, moving lymph (a huge part in immune health), and increasing endorphins. You don’t need to train for a marathon or join a CrossFit gym to benefit either. Taking a walk for 45 minutes in your neighborhood, participating in a yoga class, and even taking on a regular breathwork practice can count! If you are hesitant to take on a new routine away from home, take a look at the treasure trove of online resources available - like our virtual yoga studio Downtown on the Move.
Your body was made to move consistently throughout the day and through the increase in modern technology, movement is decreasing. We are stuck at a computer or looking at cell phones and our bodies need movement to move lymph. There isn’t a heart that pumps lymph like the blood. The lymph carries the cells that aid in removing the unwanted cells in your body and you can believe we want that moving out those unwanted cells on the regular. So, get up right now and take a walk. You’re still here! Move now - no joke!
5. Eat a clean diet
Do you remember that pyramid that your teacher showed you in kindergarten? Depending on how old you are, it may have since changed a bit from the early pyramid - but one thing is for sure: high sugar, high saturated fat, and highly processed foods are not meant to be ingested much. Your body needs the energy in healthy fats, whole grains and fruits, veggies, and protein to function. When you don’t provide enough, your body will steal it from elsewhere - at the cost of your health and wellbeing in many cases.
You may eat meat, be completely plant based, or somewhere in between - but you are still responsible for making sure that your body is receiving all of the nutrients necessary for functioning and that means the cleaner the better. Know where your food comes from and be sure you are aware of the hidden saturated fats and sugars in processed foods.
You are a perfect specimen with all of the abilities to fight off germs and live your best life. The human body is an incredible machine capable of healing and returning to health with only a few adjustments here and there on the part of the owner. Are you ready to see the amazing work your body can do? Tell us in the comments what you are going to commit to this month for taking your first step toward a healthier you during this year’s flu.