You are unique in many ways, especially when compared to most of the population. You are health and fitness conscious, and you do something about it!
Comparatively, “Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die” seems to be the predominant attitude when it comes to people taking care of their health and fitness status these days. Obesity, which is the gateway to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and a host of other diseases, is running rampant. People know they should shed some fat, but either don’t want to, or think they can’t give up the foods and/or the sedentary lifestyle that got them there. The same is happening with working out––industry sources estimate that less than 15% of people with gym memberships even go to the gym (from annual data before covid).
This covid mess has made our health crisis even more of an issue, and has shaken more than a few to motivate them to make healthy changes. Yet people look with desperation for a passive “cure”, or a vaccine. That would be great, but the truth is that the best medicine to combat any pandemic is to build a strong immune system! Here are five ways you can take a serious step in that direction:
• Shed Fat: This is the most important factor. One of the first body systems that suffers from the obesity cascade is the immune system. Case in point, one of the most significant determinants in covid 19 case outcomes is obesity. Why is that? Because fat cells release cytokines, or inflammatory agents all day long. This contributes to higher levels of overall systemic inflammation, which predisposes you to everything from coronary artery disease to cancer. When a virus attacks, and further stimulates an inflammatory response, this can result in a “cytokine storm” with massive inflammation––in the case of covid, the inflammation targets the lungs, impairing function. Staying lean means staying healthy!
• Eat more pre-biotics: The vast majority of our immune system lives in our gut! Almost daily it seems, a new study comes out that clearly demonstrates the importance of gut (intestinal) health (bacterial balance) and immune system function on overall health, moods, and brain function. This is one of the main drivers of the probiotic craze, which we will talk about next. But, you can get all the right bacteria in (with diet or supplements) but it will quickly die off if you don’t feed the intestinal bacteria. What does the intestinal bacteria that your health depends on eat? Fiber! Plant fiber to be specific, which have been labeled pre-biotics. This means eating lots of raw vegetables and fruits to keep your gut bacteria balanced and healthy – and your immune system strong!
• Eat more probiotics: Of course natural sources of probiotics, or the bacteria in food, are often best as compared to supplements, but some people try to incorporate both. Good sources include fermented foods such as yogurt (natural) blue cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kefir (a fermented milk drink), kombucha, and kimchi to name a few. Supplements are plentiful, so try to pick ones with a broad composition of probiotics along with a high count.
• Use Supplements: There is absolutely no way to get the essential nutrients we need each day just through the food we eat, no matter how healthy, vegan, or organic we are eating. Even without toxins, pesticides, and acid rain, the harvesting, transport, cutting, cooking, and refrigeration of foods all deplete nutrient content. Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients in modulating immune system function and should likely be supplemented. In addition, we all know of the importance of Vitamin C for instance, and minerals such as zinc as it pertains to fighting off viruses, but micronutrient deficiencies such as in selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E also alter immune responses. Consider vitamin, mineral, and trace element supplementation accordingly.
• Consider glutamine: While a popular amino acid supplement to support muscle growth and recovery, glutamine has a very important role in strengthening the immune system as well. In addition, glutamine plays a key role in gut health and can support neurotransmitter balance in the brain for better moods and brain function.
And of course, do the obvious:
Don’t smoke (another immune system suppressor and terrible for lungs), exercise regularly (which reduces stress hormones and boosts immune system response), limit alcohol intake, get adequate sleep, control stress, and take steps to avoid infection including social distancing and quality hand washing (for at least 20 seconds after a good lather is worked up) multiple times throughout the day. We all can do this. You can decide today what you want your future health to look like, and that goes back to the basics of a lean, healthy whole foods diet, plenty of exercise, and living a health and fitness lifestyle. It’s really just a simple matter of making the best choices to avoid the worst consequences.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.