4 Ways To Support Your Immune Strength As The World Begins To Reopen
Many of us spent the last year and a half inside, obsessively washing our hands and avoiding interactions. While it may not have been the focus, “we did see the common cold and flu go down, because we have all been at home, wearing masks and social distancing,” integrative family physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., tells mbg. “I foresee these things picking up again, even more so once our kids are all back in school.”
So, as people begin to widen their social circles and transition back to in-person gatherings, it’s important to maintain a strong immune system. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to do that, according to health experts.*
Eat a nutrient-rich diet.
Eating a diverse diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is essential for overall health—and there are specific nutrients that play a role in supporting the immune system.
For example, Gandhi suggests trying to “get lots of vitamin C-rich foods, like bell peppers, oranges, carrots.” Additionally, “pumpkin seeds and oysters are rich in zinc, and great to support your immune system,” she says. (Here: 23 immune-supporting foods and drinks to add to your repertoire.)
Take a targeted immune-support supplement.*
Daily immunity shield to strengthen your body’s natural defenses*
If you’re not getting those recommended nutrients through diet alone (which can be challenging to do), Gandhi recommends adding a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or zinc supplement to your routine.*
Along with those two nutrients, mbg director of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, says to consider two particular plant bioactives, quercetin phytosome and yeast-derived beta-glucans.* During an mbg podcast episode, Ferira explains that quercetin supplementation has been shown to strengthen immune function, while beta-glucans act as antioxidants and immunomodulators that prime our immune system for what’s ahead.*
To deliver all of these nutrients (plus vitamin D3) and bioactives in one supplement, mindbodygreen created immune support+, which can help support a healthy and resilient immune system.*
Get good quality sleep.
Sure, going to bed at a reasonable hour is pretty easy when you don’t have other plans, but as your social calendar starts to fill back up, “you want to stick to healthy habits, like adequately sleeping,” says functional medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D.
Not only does sleep help manage cortisol production (aka the stress hormone), says Gandhi, but it also allows the immune system to rest, repair, and produce T-cells.
Spending time outside supports the immune system three-fold: It increases your endogenous vitamin D levels, encourages movement, and helps manage stress. “Managing stress is always the key when talking about supporting your immune system,” Gandhi says. “Make sure you have carved out time weekly for self care and to do things that nourish your soul!”
Though the world certainly hasn’t returned to “normal,” many people’s pace of life is starting to creep its way back to pre-pandemic days. As it does, it’s important to keep our immune systems as strong as possible. Along with the four tips above, Shah says to “remember the basics: You should still wash your hands often, especially if you’ve been in contact with lots of people.”
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