Fortify Your Immunity in 5 Easy Steps
Are you feeling helpless in this new world we’ve found ourselves in? Are we truly defenseless as we wait for a vaccination against this new enemy? In times such as this, I am reminded of the Hebrew psalm that declares that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Indeed, the human body, mind and spirit are extraordinarily resilient. And we should do what we can to support our resiliency in the face of COVID-19 or any illness. Here are five ways to fortify your immunity.
I think that is the message the public and private health officials are trying to get across to us. Do not panic and think yourself powerless; instead, go on the offense and take control of your health: fortify your immunity.
What are some of the ways you can fortify your immunity? Try these five easy steps: practice good personal hygiene; fortify your body with vitamin immune boosters; get regular quality rest; practice mindfulness; enjoy serenity.
Practice good personal hygiene
Do you remember the book by Robert Fulghum, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? One of the things we learned to do in kindergarten was to wash our hands, often. This practice turns out to be the best offense against flu viruses, old and new. Advises MUIH, “The most important steps you can take are to be especially vigilant about your personal hygiene practices and to be cautious when traveling.”
There is a right way and a not-so-right way to wash your hands. These instructions have appeared in our blogs already, but they are worth repeating here. The CDC recommends that you “wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.”
I would recommend also that if you are going to dry your hands on a towel, let it be a clean towel each time; otherwise, dry your hands with paper towels.
Other recommendations by the CDC to reduce your chances of infection include:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and spray using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Fortify your body with vitamin and mineral immune boosters
The vitamins that will fortify your body against viruses are vitamin C and vitamin D.
You can take vitamin supplements, but it is always more effective to get these vitamins from the foods you eat or, in the case of vitamin D, the sun.
Vitamin C-rich foods
Broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange, papaya; red, green or yellow pepper; sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes
Vitamin D-rich foods
The best source of vitamin D is the sun. But the sun is not a consistent supplier this time of year, unless you live in the tropics or in Australia. Foods rich in vitamin D are:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. Three ounces of cooked salmon has more than 450 international units (IU).
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals [Be sure to check for added sugars.]
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Iron is an important source of energy. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron.
Meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified foods
Zinc keeps the immune system strong. It also helps vitamin D to function properly.
Oysters (contain more zinc per serving than any other food), red meat and poultry (provide the majority of zinc in the American diet), beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster), whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals [Be sure to check for added sugars.], and dairy products.
Iron and Zinc are usually found together in the same food source: meat, seafood, legumes, seeds and dairy products.
In addition to these vitamin-rich foods, you can eat immune booster foods, which are fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants: blueberries and vitamin C-rich citrus, broccoli and spinach, radish (that helps disinfect the upper respiratory tract), onions, and garlic (uncooked).
Get quality rest
Taking time out to rest during the day is something we also learned to do in kindergarten. Stress can cut into our rest time and diminish the quality of our rest. But worrying about what-ifs is counterproductive, as it saps the body of nutrients that are needed for immune health. Rest, instead.
Essential oils can help you relax and rest. They can also be used to combat respiratory-related illnesses and strengthen your immune system. The best essential oils for this are lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
When you sleep your body heals itself. So, use your rest time to keep you strong and healthy.
Mindfulness meditation is observing—being a witness to your own thoughts and emotions, including breath, sensation, a sound, a sight, or intention without judgment. “By doing this, mindfulness helps us gain insight into how our minds work, see how we generate distress, and find paths to well-being,” writes Ronald Siegel author of The Mindful Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. If you have been watching the news a lot, it’s quite normal to have anxious thoughts. Recognize these thoughts. Accept them, but do not nourish them. Instead, nourish yourself with proper hygiene–physical, mental and spiritual: the right foods, wholesome thoughts and quality sleep.
Also, practice everyday mindfulness. Be aware of touching your face with your hands. The mouth, nose, and eyes are all pathways for viruses to enter. Be also aware of touching doorknobs, light switches, gasoline hand pumps or any place—that germs can reside. Practice using hand sanitizers, but it is always best to wash hands with soap and water. These actions will help build a strong body and mind.
Daylight savings time is here. You will have more hours of daylight, a sure sign that spring is here. This knowledge should lift your spirit. For, as snow gives way to grass and overcast skies to sunshine, you will remember that life is resilient. And so are you. Fortify your body and mind, and focus your spirit on the spring that brings hope.