Go ahead! Give yourself a boost! By nurturing the body, mind and spirit you can set yourself on the path to optimal health. Although there is no proven correlation between lifestyle and boosting immunity, many believe that following a healthy lifestyle is fundamental to keeping your body functioning at its best and helping your immune system remain robust.
Eat Well/Feel Well
As the saying goes, ‘You are what you eat!” A well-balanced, nutrient dense diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant rich foods, is a vital contributor to good health. Foods such as berries, leafy greens and nuts are overflowing with nutrients. After all, they don’t call them superfoods for nothing!
Vitamin C has long been thought to help your body fight off everything from the flu to the common cold. But, since your body does not produce or store it, the best way to ensure that you get the optimal amount of Vitamin C is to eat it! Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli all contain Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and natural immune booster.
Vitamin E is also a beneficial antioxidant that may help fight off infection and is found in nuts, seeds and spinach. Avocados and olive oil are not only good sources of Vitamin E, but they also contain monounsaturated fatty acids which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Similarly, Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting many of the body’s biochemical functions. You can get your B6 by enjoying bananas, potatoes and chickpeas.
Eat your orange fruits and vegetables! The orange color is due to carotenoids which your body converts into Vitamin A - another powerful immune boosting antioxidant. In addition, carrots are full of beta-carotene. Studies have long suggested that the beta-carotene/Vitamin A connection can also help improve eyesight. So, see your way to stocking up on carrots and also sweet potatoes and cantaloupe.
It’s not only about the vitamins. Minerals such as iron, selenium and zinc are important too. As part of a plant based diet, you can get the immune benefits of these vital minerals from broccoli, kale, garlic, chickpeas and whole grains. Also, supplementing your diet with probiotics helps maintain a healthy community of gut microorganisms which can positively influence your body's immune response. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are great sources of probiotics as are kombucha and tempeh.
The Mind-Body Connection
We often attribute a healthy immune system solely to our physical health. However, respecting the relationship between both our physical and emotional health can lead to a more balanced sense of well being. Believe it or not, maintaining a positive attitude and managing stress, really does make a difference. A natural stress reducer is exercise which is good for the body and the soul. And, if you workout in the sunshine, your body will produce Vitamin D which is bone strengthening and facilitates normal immune function.
Recharge the Batteries
No matter what is going on around us, it is always important to take a pause. Set aside some time to practice mindful meditation. As a powerful stress reliever, it relaxes the mind and body while easing the negative effects of stress. If you meditate at night, it might even help you fall more quickly into a peaceful sleep. A good night's rest is restorative to both your physical and mental health, positively impacting the immune system, heart health and productivity. So many benefits without lifting a finger.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a well balanced diet, exercise and mindful practices can go a long way to supporting a strong body, a sound mind and a tranquil spirit. It may just be the boost your immune system needs!