7 Keys to Build a Healthy Immune System - According to a Dietitian

Updated: Mar 1

As we enter the 3rd year of COVID, especially with the new, more contagious Omicron variant, many are wondering how to protect themselves. These are the 7 keys to keeping your immune system healthy.


Key #1: Consume enough energy to fully nourish your body

A nourished body fights infections best. In fact, the MORE common cause of death in people who are malnourished is illness or infection from a compromised immune system, rather than starvation directly. Numerous studies show that malnutrition compromises the immune system, often with deadly consequences.

Key #2: Eat foods from all colors of the rainbow!

Are you familiar with phytochemicals? How about antioxidants? These powerful tiny chemicals fight free radicals trying to damage your body. Interestingly enough, these phytochemical are the same thing that gives fruits and vegetables their color. This means that you get different phytochemicals from different colors of fruits and veggies. For instance, a carrot and a cantaloupe look and taste very different, but they contain similar immune boosting properties. Make sure you are regularly consuming plants from every color of the rainbow!

Key #3: Lower your stress levels

As hard as this may be to accomplish, stress puts an enormous strain on your immune system. Self-care, whether that is a walk, a long hot bath, or taking yourself to the movies, is a great way to reduce stress. Listen to relaxing or uplifting music. Try laughing out loud! It may seem silly, but smiling and laughing is scientifically proven to help lower stress levels.


Key #4: Move your body! (If medically approved)

As long as you are approved for movement by your medical team, try engaging in an activity you enjoy. Dance, walk, garden, just shake it out. Get double stress busting points for trying yoga! If you’re not medically approved for movement yet, try just sitting outside and enjoy the sunshine!


Key #5: Get plenty of sleep

Again, this may be easier said than done for a lot of people! But whether or not sleep comes easy for your, commit to good sleep hygiene. Get off electronics before bed. Keep stressful activities (like work) out of your bed and bedroom. Stick to a set bedtime as much as possible, even on the weekends.

Key #6: Stay hydrated

Seriously, seriously, seriously. Drink water. Coffee, tea, sodas, etc. may make you feel less thirsty, but you still need to drink water to stay hydrated.


Key #7: Reduce your viral load

Reduce the viral load that your body has to handle. This may seem like old hat at this point, but it is even more important as the pandemic drags on. Wash your hands frequently. Wear a mask. Social distance. Carry hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your face. I know. It sucks. But your immune system will thank you.


Bonus: DON’T use expensive supplements that promise to boost or protect your immune system.


You may be seeing advertisements for expensive supplements and diets that promise to keep you safe and healthy. Be careful! These expensive “treatments” are usually a scam! A lot of people think that “all-natural” means safe. It doesn’t. All-natural supplements are not necessarily safe for human consumption! Stay smart and protect your body.


Take Care!

WC&NT

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