A lot of people are worried right now about supporting their immune system and rightfully so.
Below are a variety of recommendations that include foods, supplements and lifestyle tips. I recognize that not everyone has access to certain supplements due to cost and availability especially as many are on backorder BUT that is why I also shared some food and lifestyle tips are more accessible to the wider population.
Our immune system is also directly tied to allergic responses ranging from food allergies and sensitivities to environmental substances like dust and mold. This can cause digestive upset or more obvious reactions on the skin.
Then there are whats called autoimmune diseases which is when your immune system attacks your own tissues and cells. Autoimmune diseases include MS, overactive/underactive thyroid, arthritis, lupus and more.
In the case of these allergic reactions and autoimmune conditions our immune system way be overreacting but it's important that your immune system is also not underactive because this can lead to serious diseases, infections, tumours, etc. Essentially, in the case of an underactive immune system, your immune system may be reacting slowly, could be from medications or a genetic predisposition.
As you can tell our immune and lymphatic system is quite complex and plays an important in our short term health (colds/flus), our long term health through disease prevention, and for some their every day health in dealing with allergies and autoimmune conditions.
- berries (frozen are good too!)
- anti-inflammatory foods and herbs like turmeric
- fermented foods
- spinach and leafy greens
- healthy fats like coconut oil and avocado
- quality sources of protein
- decrease refined sugars and refined carbohydrates
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- and many more to be honest but these ones are a great start!
- One thing you can do is sleep. Sleep is SOO important for immune health so make sure you get your recommended 8 hours a night. Practice sleep hygiene by keeping your bedroom cool, dark and free of distractions and noises.
- Move your body. High intensity training can sometimes be taxing on your immune health so opt for things like walking (keeping a safe distance from people), yoga, resistant band exercises, weight-bearing exercises and so on. Don't feel guilty for also taking days off. And although your local gym, studio or crossfit may be closed, many of fitness related accounts are offering free classes on facebook and instagram
- Manage your stress. Stress and immune health is KEY. Focus on finding ways to manage your stress in order to better support your immune system. Practicing mindfulness throughout the day in the form of meditation or just being more present, is a great start. Some other ways that may help you manage stress are reading, using social media less, getting organized, listening to music, taking a bath, an so on.
- Dry skin brushing - something that has been gaining popularity lately for multiple reasons but some claim its great for helping stimulate the lymphatic system.
Support your gut health - close to 80% of your immune system is in your intestines! This group of lympathic cells is also known as the Peyer's Patches. You may have learned about this in school but essentially what it does is protect the mucous membranes in our small intestines by releasing B-cells and T-cells - pretty cool eh?! Poor gut health can also lead to decreased nutrient absorption, increased inflammation and constipation meaning toxic waste is inside your body for longer. Taking a probiotic and eating fermented foods is a good way to support gut health. Some individuals may be experiencing intestinal permeability or better known as leaky guy and therefore may need to look at removing certain foods and repairing the lining of their intestinal tract and
You can see that your immune health needs to be taken from a holistic meaning that it's not just about the foods you eat but also the lifestyle factors. It's also important to support your other body systems such as your endocrine (hormones!) and your digestive system. The majority of your immune system is actually in your gastrointestinal tract so the health of your digestion is closely linked to your immune health. Be sure to support it by chewing your food well, eating a diet rich in fiber, drinking lots of water, and avoiding processed foods and sugars.
It's also important to note that if you are ill you may need to seek the advice of a medical professional and see out options that aren't necessarily natural and that is OK! Always make sure that you are making the best decision for YOUR health and wellbeing.
Antioxidant Rich Acai Berry Bowl
Acai is one of those "superfoods" that we always hear about. I am all about eating foods that can provide added health benefits but I am not much for falling for foods because they have this superfood label. Realistically all fruits and vegetables should be considered a super food! But regardless I wanted to try out acai and see what it was all about.
Now since we live in Canada I had to opt for the powered version of acai. Acai berries are known to be high in antioxidants and fiber meaning they have been linked to disease prevention and better digestive function.
How did I find the taste? Well to be honest, with everything else I had blended with it, it didn't taste any different then a regular berry smoothie. However, because of the mixture I used, I was able to sneak in some spinach to make it more filling.
- 1 tbsp acai powder or frozen acai
- 1/2 avocado or healthy fat
- 1 tbsp ground flax
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup coconut milk
- coconut flakes for topping
- frozen raspberries for topping
- optional: drizzle with nut/seed butter on top
- Add all the ingredients to a blender, blend and serve. Feel free to add coconut flakes and more berries.