By: Laura Norman
Special to the Boca and Delray Newspapers
The president declared a national emergency last month concerning the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The CDC and local government agencies have published common sense precautions we should all take to avoid contracting or spreading the virus.
And our greatest defense is still our own immune system. Boosting our immune system is one of the most important things we can do right now to stay healthy and feel in control. Yet we might be sabotaging our immune system without even knowing it. A weakened immune system leaves us vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold and the flu, and can even contribute to the development of cancer and other serious diseases.
Here are eight healthy, immune-boosting habits we can start right now:
Exercise. Moderate exercise of only 30 minutes a day increases several key components of your immune system. The most important of these is your leukocyte count–cells that fight infection. Exercise at home or get out and take a brisk walk every day.
Avoid excess bodyweight. Studies have shown that being overweight can weaken our immune system response. Excess bodyweight also greatly increases the likelihood of developing diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Watch your diet. Excess sugar consumption has a negative effect on our immune system’s effectiveness. Even consuming as little as 75 grams of sugar weakens our immune system, and the effect can continue for several hours.
On the other hand, foods that are high in antioxidants and other nutrients boost the immune system. The easiest way to get all of these nutrients is by eating fruits and vegetables. Ideally, fill at least half your plate with vegetables.
Keeping your body on the alkaline side of the pH scale also helps to defend against flu and colds, which cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. Among the best foods to help your body stay alkaline are citrus fruits, especially lemons. Although acidic, lemons create an alkaline response in your body. Start each day with lemon juice in water to help you “alkalinize.” And grandma was right! Research shows that chicken soup helps to clear up congestion.
Laugh. Laughing is great for you. It causes the level of stress hormones in your body to drop while encouraging the production of feel-good hormones like endorphins. And just the anticipation of experiencing something humorous has a very positive effect on your immune system. So turn off World War Z and watch Schitt’s Creek or your favorite comedy.
Get enough sleep. Most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep to maintain good health. A lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of getting sick. Insomnia increases inflammation in the body, which inhibits your immune system’s response to bacteria and viruses.
Avoid stress. We’re all faced with a certain amount of stress in our lives, especially now. A small amount of stress is actually good for our health. However, excessive, chronic stress has a very negative impact on immune system health, and you become much more likely to develop a variety of illnesses. So turn off the news, listen to music, read a good book.
Meditate. Experiments have demonstrated that regular meditation, mindfulness and other related activities boost your immune system.
Schedule a professional reflexology session. Here’s a wonderfully pleasurable, natural way to strengthen your immune response. Reflexology—the art of applying firm yet gentle pressure to “reflex points” on the hands and feet to balance your organs, glands, and all body systems—significantly reduces stress while it helps your body to eliminate toxins. Studies show that reflexology improves circulation, boosts your immune system response and encourages the release of endorphins, your natural “feel-good” hormones.
Laura Norman, M.S., LMT, world-renowned Holistic Reflexologist and author of the best-selling book, Feet First: A Guide to Foot Reflexology, offers private Reflexology and Inspired Life Coaching sessions in Delray Beach and Holistic Reflexology Training Programs in Boynton Beach starting May 16th. Visit www.lauranorman.com • Call 561-272-1220