5 Immunity-Boosting Practices
(That You Should Be Doing Anyway)
Dr. Joel Kahn, America's Healthy Heart Doc, shares how you can take care of your immune system while under lockdown in this Complement exclusive.
My family is sequestered. I come to my office and go home, and have gone to the hospital as needed, or to the grocery store. In and out with the masks and the gloves and all the precautions of social distancing.
If you were to ask me during regular times what my top five recommendations for taking care of your immunity were, I’d give you the same list below - they’re just more important now. And my patients here at The Kahn Center are being reminded of that (during virtual visits, of course). So while these practices are familiar, it’s even more crucial that you follow them.
I always put sleep at the top of the list. When you sleep poorly, you make bad food choices, bad fitness choices, you get depressed, and your immune system suffers as a result of everything. So do whatever it takes to take care of your sleep.
Magnesium, melatonin, lavender oil in an essential diffuser, a warm bath before bed. Meditation and turning off screens and electronics overall work great, too. But essentially, don’t underestimate the power of getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
"Don’t rely on carry out, period. If you’re looking to simplify things, make simple dishes with potatoes, beans, rice and greens. It will work out a lot better in the long run."
We know whole food, bright, colorful plant diets are the way to go. We know that they most support your immune system. There are a few pockets of potential micronutrient deficiency in a completely plant diet like I've eaten for more than 40 years, but we’ll get to that in #5.
Eat whole fruit and a lot of the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and such. Sometimes you will need to buy organic for those, though. Unfortunately,kale for example just made the list again as one of the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables. If you're not familiar with that, go check out ewg.org.
Also - don’t rely on fast-food carry out, as tempting as it may be to simplify your life in that way. In fact, don’t rely on carry out, period. If you’re looking to simplify things, make simple dishes with potatoes, beans, rice and greens. It will work out a lot better in the long run.
Sleep, Nutrition, Fitness, Stress Management and Smart Supplementing... while these practices are familiar, it’s even more crucial right now that you follow them.
As you cover your bases to boost your immune system, make sure you keep a positive mental attitude. We will get through this!
Some people have more time than usual, some don’t - but getting out regularly for a walk or run in fresh air (away from other people) is still essential. If that’s not possible, do it on a treadmill or elliptical, do Pilates or Yoga, try Tai Chi, do some weights…
There are so many free classes online that you’re really spoiled for choice, and exercising every day is important for keeping you immune system strong. I’ve been known to work while using a foldable treadmill set below my stand-up desk, but I've actually increased my workout time since this whole lockdown has occurred, just to give myself an extra boost.
4. Stress Management
Again, this is one of those things that would make the list regardless - teaching how to properly manage stress and the mind-body connection should be mandatory in schools, if you ask me. There are many, many different way to approach it, so you can find one that works for you.
Apps like Headspace or Calm make meditating with the help of your phone. I'm personally a big fan of a 12 minute yoga flow called the Five Tibetan Rites and a 12 minute yoga meditation called the Kirtan Kriya, which has been shown to improve cognitive function, decrease stress, and maybe actually slow aging.
5. Smart Supplementing
The last of your best practices is intelligent consideration of supplementation. If you're eating a largely or completely plant diet, you are benefiting tremendously from micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and all the wonderful vitamins that you'll find in it. But you could be exposed to a bit of a problem with zinc, with magnesium, with vitamin D, or with B12.
You can of course check these with lab work like I do in my clinic here, The Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity. But right now is not a really good time for getting these tests done, so a little extra supplementation with a product like Complement Plus is a great backup. It has all these harder to get nutrients that can potentially support your health.
Finally, as a bonus #6 - smiling is free, and it boosts your immune response too. So as you cover your bases to boost your immune system, make sure you keep a positive mental attitude. We will get through this!
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