This may seem like a cliché topic given the current situation, but now more than ever is it important to consider the many factors that can contribute to a robust immune system. Per the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the immune system is “a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend against germs. It helps your body to recognize these ‘foreign’ invaders and to keep them out, or to find and destroy them.”
We’ve heard a lot recently about immunocompromised, or “at-risk” populations, e.g. the elderly, pregnant women, those with chronic conditions including diabetes, and more. It’s important to recognize that the above populations may still be at higher risk despite all their best efforts at boosting their immune systems. Still, the tips below are relevant to anyone and can help to stack the deck in your favor when it comes to contagious illnesses.
- Stay hydrated. We’ve discussed the importance of staying hydrated before, and adequate fluid intake assists the body in eliminating substances that can cause infection; think of this as the body’s natural detoxification system. Click the link above for specific tips on how to best stay hydrated all year long.
- Eat a balanced diet. This is another one we’ve discussed before, and we know this advice is always relevant. Remember that “complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend against germs”? Well, it relies on quality input to function optimally. A balanced diet is one that consists of protein, healthy fat, whole grains and starches, vegetables, and fruits. Even if your diet needs or preferences don’t have you eating all of the above food groups, it’s still important to think about the quality of foods you’re eating. See this post on building a healthy plate HERE.
- Get enough sleep. From the Mayo Clinic: “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.” There are a lot of complex processes that occur during sleep, but the gist is that bodies need sleep to fight infection. We’ve all heard about the recommended 7-8 hours per night for adults, so if you’re getting less than that or don’t feel rested upon waking, do your best to increase your sleep, even if little by little.
- Manage your stress. This is another one that involves a lot of complex processes, but the immune system is less able to fight off disease when we’re stressed, which means we’re more susceptible to infection, especially when stress is chronic. As you might have learned recently (J), yoga is proven to reduce stress and can be done in any setting, including in the truck (click the “yoga” link above for more info!). Other options for help with stress management include apps that provide stress-reducing sounds, meditations, and stories. Many are offering free services right now, too. Here are a few to check out: Headspace, Calm, and Breethe.
Other general tips are ones you’re likely familiar with, too: stay active (though not when you’re sick, as that is a time for rest), get some fresh air (which thankfully is possible even with social distancing!), and take your vitamins if that’s something you do. If you’re interested in more specific information about immune-boosting foods, vitamins and minerals, or anything else, comment to let us know!
Stay safe, be well, and know that your work is appreciated now and always.