As much as we were all hoping to have COVID-19 on the run by now, it is still very much with us, with the Delta variant currently taking center stage. As the virus grinds on, continuing to follow CDC guidance and local mandates, getting the shot, masking, hand-washing and social distancing are all a big part of the ongoing battle.
What else can you do to keep this unprecedented menace at bay? Do everything possible to support your immunity, and remember, you have a tremendous amount of control over it. Weave in immunity-boosting habits throughout the day, with the goal of fortifying yourself from head to toe, and you’ll make your body a very inhospitable environment for viruses to try to set up shop. To keep yourself honest and stay laser-focused despite pandemic fatigue, think of your daily behaviors as an ‘either/or’ proposition, as in, will a particular act build immunity or erode it?
To help inspire your choices, I’ve put together my ‘listicle’ of no-brainer, do-every-day, simple tips for maximum immunity. Do them all at once or add a few tips daily – at whatever pace works for you – and, in almost no time, your immune system will have what it needs to keep you thriving through the fall and beyond. Here’s where to start – preferably today:
- Avoid sugar, starches, sweet treats and junk food – which not only lead to metabolic problems over time, but also feed the overgrowth of unhelpful (or ‘bad’) gut bacteria, which overwhelm the good guys and weaken your immune system’s defenses.
- Cut way back on alcohol – as it can weaken your immune system and make your body more susceptible to infections.
- Cultivate a healthy microbiome – by eating fresh, whole, organic or farmers’ market unprocessed foods.
- Always eat veggie fibrous stalks – don’t throw them out – your gut loves them!
- Eat prebiotics – goodies like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, ideally every day.
- Eat probiotics – as in, fermented foods every day, just a scoop will do.
- Drink organic tea – black or green teas are rich in polyphenols, which help activate cell repair and prime the immune system.
- Drink healthy hot toddies – brew up caffeine-free teas and stir in herbs like andrographis, echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus. Try mixing hot water with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and stevia or, for a more savory brew, drink bone broth made from healthy, grass-fed animals to get a dose of amino acids like arginine, glutamine and glycine — all of which are excellent immunity reinforcements.
- Hydrate generously – with well-filtered water, as chlorinated H20 can kill the beneficial gut bacteria you need to stay well.
- Focus on keeping digestion on an even keel – with daily digestive enzymes and a good probiotic if needed. And if digestion gets sluggish, add a magnesium supplement as needed to help ease elimination.
- Go big on leafy greens – toss them into every meal to feed your good gut bacteria the fiber and nutrients that enable them to flourish. In return, they’ll maintain a healthy bacterial balance in your gut, keep it leak-free and your immunity strong.
- Drink your greens – when whole-food greens aren’t within easy reach, fill the gap with powdered greens drinks to help support gut health and keep your energy levels up. Make sure they are low in sugar.
- Load up on medicinal foods – that are rich in phytochemicals, antivirals and antifungals, many of which have been shown to be helpful in the fight against SARS (a viral cousin of COVD-19) by reducing the virus’s ability to penetrate cells and replicate inside them.
- Pour on spices – with medicinal benefits like ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, thyme and cayenne pepper. All pack a powerful anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiviral punch – which is extra helpful for immunity.
- Fast intermittently – and get into practices that encourage immunity-boosting autophagy.
- Supplement immunity – with supportive botanicals and nutraceuticals like curcumin, quercetin, N-Acetylcysteine, zinc, vitamins C and D and elderberry.
- Treat yourself to hot baths, saunas and naps – to de-stress and relax muscles and blood vessels and, in turn, help keep immunity defenses high.
- Move throughout the day – don’t become a couch potato or work-from-home potato! Get out there, get daily doses of sun, fresh air and exercise to keep your body and mind resilient – no matter the weather!
- Make time to unwind every day – do some relaxing restorative yoga before bed or, if you need a break during the day, find a quiet spot and do some slow, deep breathing or meditation to help relieve tension, quiet the mind and help lower blood pressure.
- Sleep your way healthy – Ever notice how a few days of too little sleep is usually followed by a cold or worse? Never has getting good rest been more important! Make sleep a priority – the more the better – to help keep your immune system in germ-fighting form. If you’re not ‘good at sleep,’ re-learn the art of a good snooze with my 9 Tips for Better Sleep and my latest book Better Sleep, Better You: Your No Stress Guide for Getting The Sleep You Need and the Life You Want.
For additional COVID-19 health and safety recommendations, check out the Center for Disease Control’s comprehensive web site.