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A Different Narrative

Tales from the bright side of healthcare.

Waiting for a Vaccine? Strengthen Your Immune System in the Meantime

September 13, 2020
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The last several months have posed new challenges for all, no matter what walk of life. Some of the biggest impacts that we have come across have been on our health, affecting our mind, body and spirit. No doubt, at some point, we haven’t felt as vibrant as we would like. Maybe there has been less exercise. Maybe eating habits have changed because of less frequent grocery store trips, eating at home or stress eating. Think about how you and your family’s health and well-being have been impacted over the last 5 months. Let’s talk about getting back on track.

One of my biggest frustrations as a functional nutritionist is the lack of emphasis in the media on improving your health to strengthen your immune system. No matter your situation, there is likely room for improvement in your activity and eating habits, which will improve your immune function and help you stay healthy. So, what does that look like?

Here are my top 5 tips to improve your health:  

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The more colorful, the better. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and can boost your immune system. Eating 5 - 7 servings a day is the goal; include those high in vitamin C.
    • All citrus fruits
    • Strawberries
    • Broccoli
    • Red bell peppers 
    • Tomatoes
    • Green leafy vegetables. 
  • Good old sunshine - Get out between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to maximize your ability to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to boost your immune system. The sunshine might not be enough, so you may need to consider a Vitamin D supplement. I highly recommend getting a Vitamin D blood test to see where you are. General recommendations are to have your vitamin D levels above 30ng/ml, however your doctor may recommend a functional level of  60ng/ml, so make sure to check with your physician.  
  • Significantly limit or even eliminate sugar and highly processed foods.   
  • Move more. Think of how you can move every day even if it’s walking 3x for 10 minutes most days. If you are at work, walk to the farthest printer or restroom, take the stairs or go talk to someone in-person instead of using the computer. Just move more and get up from your desk hourly.
  • Get some “me” time. Take 10 - 15 minutes per day to read, meditate, take a bath or whatever you need to escape from the world.

Keep in mind, no day is perfect. Shoot to accomplish 3 out of 5 per day.  Reward yourself when you get 5 out of 5! Make it fun and enlist the entire family and you will be on your way to feeling vibrant every day!

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By Susan Drake
Functional Nutritionist