I’ve heard a lot about hand washing and social distancing over the past few weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. I have also heard about immunocompromised people dying from the virus. But I haven’t heard the first newscaster discuss the concept of boosting immune function. Have you? Doesn’t it make sense that we should all work to strengthen our immune systems right now?
If you share my conviction, you will find below a list of 10 ideas that may help you accomplish that. (Please review my disclaimer page & discuss with your healthcare provider before acting on any of them.)
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of mineralized water. (Not the same as mineral water.) Add Himalayan salt and/or fresh lemon or lime juice to your water to mineralize it. Also, eat lots of (home-cooked & organic, if possible) soups. Thank you Gina Bria, co-author of Quench: Beat Fatigue, Drop Weight, and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration, for these tips.
- Drink daily green smoothies with (organic if possible) fruits and veggies. Think apples, oranges, pears, mangoes, cherries, blueberries, celery, cucumbers, sprouts, cilantro, Italian parsley, spinach, red leaf kale, cinnamon, cardamom, fresh ginger, chia seeds, and turmeric with fresh-ground pepper. Any combination is tasty, nutrient-rich, and deeply hydrating. Dr. Gerald Pollack, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, (Pollacklab.org) studies structured water, a special form of water found in plants, that the human body uses to function optimally.
- Consume natural probiotic food & drinks such as (organic & raw, if possible) kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso soup. Stanford University of Medicine researchers Justin & Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs, (sonnenburglab.stanford.edu) say they feed their family a different natural probiotic food or drink each day to diversify the population in their microbiomes as well as those of their kids. Studies show that diversity in the gut is a major key to health across the board.
- Eat fewer pre-processed foods, including fast foods and junk foods, and more high-fiber whole vegetables, including beans and lentils, as well as prebiotic foods such as onions, garlic, dandelion greens, and asparagus. Again, all in service of the microbiome.
- One more tip for the microbiome, from the triple board certified Dr. Zach Bush (http://zachbushmd.com). A healthy microbiome, according to Dr. Bush, consists of between 20,000 and 40,000 species of bacteria. (Which explains why you should not eat the same foods all the time.) Spending time outside and in multiple ecosystems (for example, your backyard, a rainforest, a beach, a desert, a waterfall, a lake, or a river) can diversify your good bacteria.
- Diffuse essential oils inside your home, which is the next best thing to being outside. Dr. Josh Axe (http://draxe.com) says that many essential oils are antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic. He suggests eucalyptus, peppermint, oregano, lemon, and cinnamon for immune function. Add some or all of them to your diffuser, vaporizer, or humidifier, if it offers that function, to purify the air that you breathe.
- Even though you are practicing social distancing, make emotional connections. Make phone calls, send texts, or email friends and family to let them know they are in your thoughts and remind them we’re all in this together. According to Dr. Dean Ornish (http://ornish.com), those societies and cultures over the past several hundred thousand years who learned to take care of each other were more likely to survive than those who did not. Our species has a basic need for a caring community.
- Practice expressing gratitude for your life and your blessings. Your feelings and beliefs have a strong impact on your biology, according to Gregg Braden (http://greggbraden.com), whom Dr. Deepak Chopra describes as “a rare blend of scientist, visionary, and scholar . . .” Your cells are always listening in on your thoughts, Gregg says.
- Take a break from watching or reading the news. Feeling fear on top of fear on top of fear creates a perpetual fight-or-flight mode in our bodies. This results in biological conditions that inhibit optimal function. Check in on the news only once or twice a day, or maybe even skip a day (unless you feel more anxiety as a result.) Instead of spending so much time sitting on the sofa watching or reading the news, do some yoga, stretching, take a walk, or some other enjoyable activity. (Movement is also good for immunity, so a twofer!)
- And finally, get enough sleep to make you feel rested. When our immune systems are fighting to keep us well, more sleep may be required. You know this from personal experience, right? Listen to your body.
So, there you have it. I hope this list of immune function boosters empowers you to become healthier, therefore diminishing your fears of the virus.
Blessings for Immunity,