Immune boosters

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I think the first time I was told about the immune system and paid attention was when I watched the movie Osmosis Jones! If you haven’t seen it and want to teach your kids how the body defends itself against external threats, this is the perfect movie. Besides being funny, it’s easy to understand and there is plenty of action to capture their attention for 1.5 hours!

I think the majority of us unwittingly take our immune system for granted. We know it’s important, but we don’t always pay attention to it. We run all day, work long hours, cook like chefs, train like athletes, our homes are spotless, etc … It’s not surprising how many people get sick immediately on vacation. We stuff ourselves with vitamins and pills at the first symptoms of a cold because we don’t have time to get sick, but we rarely do prevention.

With what is happening now with Covid-19, I think it is important to review or understand how we can do simple things to boost our immune system. By having to be at home, we are inevitably more sedentary, we watch more television, we drink a little more than usual, we eat badly, we are stressed and we sleep badly. Unfortunately, this is exactly what damages our immune system and puts us at risk of catching the virus.
First, I would just like to clarify that “boosting” your immune system doesn’t mean that I am able to make you invincible. “Booster” simply means trying to give our system the best chance at doing its job by maximizing our health. You have to understand that basically, in order to have a well-functioning immune system, the rest of our body must also be functioning well.

I’ll give you the example of someone eating poutine; when we eat junk food, it damages our digestion, it decreases the good bacteria in our gut (which help us defend ourselves) and it causes us inflammation (reaction of the immune system). This is all less defense to defend yourself. Add to that stress, short nights, alcohol and lack of exercise and you are completely devoid of an effective defense system.

So what should we do to support our immune system?

1- Eat well

Yes, there are some foods that support the immune system, but that’s not all. There’s also food that should be avoided like deep-fried and processed foods because they cause a lot of inflammation. We must also think about digestion; if I tell you that broccoli is great for immunity, but you have a hard time digesting it, avoid eating it or find ways to eat it so it’s easier to digest; most vegetables are easier to digest when they are cook. Eat fruits and vegetables of different colors. Favor citrus fruits that are packed with vitamin C. Garlic is recognized as one of the best foods for strengthening the immune system. Garlic contains allicin which gives it anticarcinogenic, antifungal, antihypertension and antioxidant properties. In fact, garlic is recognized as a strong natural antibiotic. This is the reason why it would be important to incorporate it into your diet. For people who have difficulty digesting garlic, you can always try garlic capsules which are much easier to digest. Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties. Fermented products contain bacteria that are beneficial for digestion, detoxification of the lymphatic system and inflammation. Almonds contain vitamin E which helps maintain a healthy immune system. Bone broth supports the intestine and digestion with its amino acids and collagen. Green tea has antioxidant properties which can boost immunity.

2-Sleep

Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to reduce the number of antibodies and cells important to the immune system. When you are sick, sleep can also affect how quickly you recover. 7h-8h are recommended. For people who have a hard time falling asleep, a sleep routine can go a long way.

3- Exercise

While there is no direct evidence that exercise strengthens the immune system, exercise is important for the heart, digestion, bones, and virtually everything in the body! By exercising, we increase our immunity indirectly. Conversely, too much training adds stress to the body and it can harm us. Try to find a balance between “Netflix and chill” and the Olympic athlete! A 30-minute brisk walk is a good start, but then again, if it’s too much for you, you need to adjust and especially listen to yourself.

4- Limit your alcohol consumption

Alcohol ruins the intestinal flora and causes a lot of inflammation. In addition, alcohol affects what we want to eat (hello junk food!) And our digestion. Alcohol also affects the time we go to bed and the quality of our nights. It would be best to avoid alcohol altogether, but I know it is often difficult. 1-2 drinks per week would be ideal.

5- Be positive

The current situation is far from simple and it is easy to get impatient or negative. I have never been so afraid to leave my home. And let’s be honest, being isolated can be overwhelming at times. Despite everything, I appreciate being able to spend this time of crisis surrounded by my family. We are healthy, we have enough to eat and we have a roof over our heads. Unfortunately, this is far from everyone’s reality … It is important to realize it. Try to find a way to see the positive in this situation (I know it can be hard), try to see the little things that we often take for granted and be grateful for them.

In addition to helping us move forward, having a positive attitude could have a positive effect on our immune system and its response to a threat. That’s why the “It’s gonna be okay” movement is so important. In this time of crisis, it is important to find tips to cheer yourself up. The stress and anxiety that a situation like this causes also affects our immune system. You’ve probably heard that a smile can be contagious. There is nothing like dancing, fooling around and singing at the top of your lungs to boost household morale. So let go and be crazy!

I hope those tricks help.
Take care of yourself!