After coming across an overwhelming amount of information and updates since the wake of COVID-19, I have crafted this article not to scare you, but educate you on your personal health; Something so vital for our everyday life. With the virus here to top off our already high stress levels, NOW is the time to take control. Yes, like you’ve heard “social-distancing” is the first step to #flattenthecurve. 100% of what we choose to do to protect ourselves should also be applied to how we respond to this outbreak. Stress and anxiety is already something, we humans tend to struggle with EVERYDAY. Let go of the stress by putting yourself into ACTION! No, I don’t mean go to the gym or grocery store to get healthy food (which may be difficult at this time), what I want everyone to understand is it all comes down to the way we treat ourselves. So ask yourself these questions:
1. Have you looked yourself in the mirror today and felt good about the person staring back at you? Did you think, “Wow! I’m such an amazing person.” No? Why not?
2. Did you sleep an adequate amount (7-8hrs) last night? Why? How can you make this happen?
3. As you read this, are you sitting or standing up straight: shoulders back and down? No… well if you haven’t already, fix that posture! :)
4. How many vegetables have eaten today? How many fruits (berries, citrus, cantaloupe or watermelon) have you had? Yes, No? Does this happen daily?
5. Have you moved your body today? This doesn’t necessarily mean you exercised, but did you get up enough to help reach the daily average adult step goal of 10,000 steps? No? Get Up! Get Moving!
Now, if you’re questioning any of the questions above, you should know that there’s a significant reason behind each and every single one of them. Our immune system!! We all put our immune systems through a complete 360° sometimes. Everyday stress alone, like pressure from work or studying for a final in school, decreases our immune system’s ability to fight off antigens (Harvard, 2014). In return, this makes us more susceptible to infections during stressful times…. Stress alone, however is not the only factor that comes into play when trying to build a better immune system. Good sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, avoiding alcohol and for god-sake quitting smoking will SOLVE many of the diseases we as humans face every damn day!
So with all that said, here are THE steps, or should I say "suggestions" brought to you by the Cancer Exercise Training Institute with resources from the Harvard Medical School and the CDC to follow in order to improve your health not just to avoid infections or disease, but to improve your overall health!
Quit Smoking! According to the CDC, smoking directly harms your immune system. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds which many can interfere with the immune system. Diseases that can worsen by smoking include: viral and bacterial infections, meningitis (a disease that attacks the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord); infections that occur after surgery; rheumatoid arthritis (the immune system attacks the joints and causes swelling and pain); Chrohn’s disease (a serious disease of the digestive system); and cancer.
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables! What a perfect time to start a garden! Rich in Vitamin C, most fruits and vegetables can help boost the immune system and produce more white blood cells (both help to fight infection).
Here is the list of veggies and fruit RICH in Vitamin C:
>Red bell peppers: 2x more Vitamin C than most citrus fruits.
>Broccoli: includes Vitamin A, C, and D, antioxidants and fiber.
>Garlic: has heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, which are amazing immune-boosting properties. It can lower blood pressure and slow the hardening of the arteries.
>Ginger: decreases inflammation, pain and may help reduce cholesterol.
>Spinach: rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.
>Yogurt with live and active cultures: Great source of Vitamin D!
>Almonds (46-shelled): provides 100% of your Vitamin E per day. Also Vit. C and D.
>Green Tea: packed with flavonoids and L-theanine.
>Papaya: rich in Vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins and folate.
>Kiwi: supply of Vitamin C, folate, potassium and Vitamin K.
Exercise regularly-- when you’re first starting to add movement into your life, start slow. The idea is to increase your activity to slow down the release of stress hormones. When your body temperature rises slightly during and after exercise “may prevent bacteria from growing, which may help the body fight infection better.” There may also be a link to how fast the antibodies and white blood cells detect infection just from the increase in exercise. On top of that, exercise can "flush bacteria out of the lungs" (thecancerspecialist.com), which allows your body to get more nutrients to the cells-- JUST AMAZING!
Maintain a healthy body weight. As you may already know, increasing your body fat increases your risk to developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, joint pain and degeneration. These all can lead to arthritis and injury, stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol, fatty liver, and depression. By keeping excess body weight you ARE putting yourself at risk for disease.
Washing your hands FREQUENTLY and cooking meats thoroughly are two ways to keep it clean and lessen the risk of spreading germs to others. Deep hand washing is such an important step to take especially in times like today. Check out Shaklee's cleaning products HERE!
Minimize your stress! Practice yoga or meditation. Draw, paint or read to ease your mind. Take a bubble bath or hot shower to bring the tension down. It’s understandable to be stressed, but find ways that work for you to minimize it!
So as you sit here reading this, what step above do you think you can start right now? What step can you add to your daily life tomorrow? Treat this time of change, which could last 2 weeks or even 2 years, as an opportunity to sustain healthy habits to make you a strong, happy and healthy human! #inthistogether
Leonard, Andrea. “Strengthening Your Immune System in the Wake of COVID-19.” Cancer
Exercise Training Institute. March 9, 2020. https://thecancerspecialist.com/2020/03/09/strengthening-your-immune-system-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/
Merz, Beverly. “Micronutrients Have Major Impact on Health.” Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. September, 2016. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/micronutrients-have-major-impact-on-health
“How to Boost Your Immune System.” Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. September, 2014.
Center for Disease and Prevention: Interim Guidance. “Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Homes and Residential Communities.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources, NICRD, Division of Viral Diseases. February 14, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html