Support your immune system

Andrea Morley

Supporting the immune system has been a big topic of conversation lately, given the Covid-19 pandemic, but there’s another important reason to support our body in being able to heal and recover: our stress levels, schedules, and eating habits have completely changed, and for many of us they are at their worst, leaving our health more vulnerable than ever.

There is no magical way to avoid ever getting sick, especially with a virus as contagious as Covid-19. However, your body is constantly working hard to stay healthy and repair itself, and it’s crucial that you support it in doing so.

Implement a few (or all) of the following tips into your daily routine or as often as possible, since the best way to keep your immune system running well is through consistent, daily actions rather than once-in-a-blue-moon sporadic efforts.

Top immune-supporting tips:

Sleep: Your cell phone can’t function without being charged, and neither can you. Whatever amount of sleep you’re currently getting, aim for an extra 30-60 minutes during this time. You may have to rearrange your evening or morning schedule a tad, but it will pay off. Naps are good, but you’ll get the most healing sleep through the night.

Water: Your liver and other organs do a great job at filtering out waste and toxins, but if you’re not drinking enough water, those unwanted products have a harder time leaving the body and your health can suffer. Start drinking one or two more glasses per day than what you’re currently getting.

Lower stress: Easier said than done, right? We’re all feeling the effects of the pandemic mentally, and the toll that it’s taking on our physical health is detrimental. Start focusing on some stress-relieving activities immediately; whether you want to go for walks, watch funny movies or videos, try yoga or meditation, or just spend some time outside, you’ll be able to improve your body’s response to stress.

Eat fruits and veggies: They are loaded with antioxidants and virus-fighting compounds, can help to increase antibodies and white blood cells, and provide us with loads of vitamins and minerals! Start eating more of them ASAP.

Multivitamins: If your diet suffers when you’re on the road (or always), a multivitamin is a great way to ensure you’re filling some nutrient gaps. Head to a natural health store (or shop one online) and ask for a high-quality multivitamin.

Vitamin C: Many people take vitamin C when they’re already sick in hopes of improving overnight, but it is much more effective to build your immune system over time with this potent vitamin. Look for Ester-C or Lypo-spheric Vitamin C.

Vitamin D: Another potent vitamin, this one helps with both immunity and mood management as we head into shorter days and gloomier weather. Look for Vitamin D3 with K. Bonus: spending time in the sun allows your body to produce vitamin D, so head outside some more as the days get nicer!

Probiotics: Health starts in the gut, and our gut is made up of millions of bacteria that help us digest food, stay healthy, and much more. Many people have a depleted gut microbiome (ie. not enough gut bacteria or not enough strains of bacteria) so introducing a high-quality probiotic for about a week each month can be a great help for our immune systems.

Garlic, onions, and ginger: These fall into the fruit and veggie category, but they deserve their own special mention as they all contain powerful antiviral compounds. Bonus: they’re super affordable! Add them (fresh) into as many meals as you can.

Herbal tea: This can be a powerful immune booster, especially if buying a high-quality organic brand. Nettle leaf, lemon balm, ginger, elderberry, and echinacea are some great options.

Exercise: Moderate exercise can have a positive effect on the immune system, but be sure not to overdo it as that can do the opposite. Aim for 150 minutes per week.

Fresh air: This has been found to help support the immune system, so take your workouts outside or even just sit outdoors for five to 10 minutes of deep breathing. The temperatures are improving in Canada right now, so get out there and enjoy it, even if you have to put a jacket on.

Finally, to minimize the strain you are putting on your body, do your best to reduce how often you consume these foods: processed foods; sugar; wheat (bread, muffins, bagels, pasta, cookies, etc.); dairy; and alcohol.

Andrea Morley

Andrea Morley is the lead nutritionist and health coach at Healthy Trucker (a division of NAL Insurance), where she educates and motivates drivers and office staff across the industry to improve their health through simple, consistent changes in their diet and exercise routines. She has a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Guelph, and is passionate about wellness and helping others reach their goals. She can be contacted at amorley@healthytrucker.com

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