Fight Viruses and Boost Your Immune System Year Round
Fight Viruses: The term “virus” is all over the media lately. There is a lot of fear being spread around, but rather than spreading fear (which btw weakens your immune system), why not find ways to boost your immune system naturally. So you can stay strong, healthy, and full of love! Fear creates restrictions-which can decrease our immune health and welcome in the very thing we are trying to avoid. So let’s start by stopping the spread of fear and focusing on functional health.
Fight Viruses: Get Grounded!
Reconnect with nature and the earth! As a culture, we tend to fear dirt, yet getting grounded has so many fantastic health benefits! The earths negative ions can help to boost your immune system. Now that spring is upon us, get outside and get your bare feet on the planet. Studies show that grounding decreases inflammation, increases circulating cytokines, and can help to boost your immune system naturally. Also, just being out in nature decreases cortisol, thus reducing your body’s stress response. Less stress means a healthier immune function.
RX: Get out in nature and get your bare feet in the grass as often as possible!!
Fight Viruses: Get Sunlight!
Going along with getting grounding and getting outside in nature, there is vitamin D production that goes along with getting sunlight on your skin.
Every tissue in our body contains Vitamin D receptors. The World Health Organization and the Surgeon General recommend avoiding the sun during peak times: 10 am- 2 pm, and to cover up any exposed areas with high SPF and protective clothing. However, this peak sun time is when Vitamin D is most highly synthesized. Although neglecting the sun during this peak time may reduce the risk of certain skin melanomas by altogether avoiding any exposure during this time, we are blocking our ability to synthesis adequate Vitamin D.
The sun is healing and relaxing for us! One of my favorite aspects of getting adequate sunlight is that the sun increases our feelings of well-being, boosts our immune system, and helps to relieve pain.
How can you get sun exposure without burning?
Go outside during peak sunlight hours (10 am-2 pm) for about 15 minutes (more or less depending on the fairness of your skin). Gradually increase your sun exposure, so you do not get a sunburn.
- Cover up with large hats and light-colored clothing, rather than using potentially hormone-disrupting sunscreens.
- Eat healthy fats! This increases your intake of vitamins A, D, E, and K. I recommend lard, grass-fed butter, egg yolks, and liver. These nutrient-dense foods help to decrease inflammation associated with sunburns.
- Increase your intake of carotene and lycopene-rich vegetables and fruits. These components help to protect the skin against damage from too much sun exposure.
Although getting burned by the sun can increase the risk of melanoma, getting adequate sun exposure boosts your immune system without burning decreases your chance of getting many different cancers. Don’t avoid the sun; instead, focus on small amounts of sun exposure during peak times.
Fight Viruses: Get Nutrients!
Nutrient-dense foods, including adequate fat in the diet, will ensure the proper assimilation of fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins will also help keep your immune system healthy and robust. What are some of the best immune-boosting foods you can consume?
- Bone Broth: has been shown to help seal open junctions in the gut that may lead to a weakened immune system. Bone broth is easily digested and assimilated by the body and also helps with inflammation. Finally, it is chock full of vitamins and minerals as well, also keeping inflammation down and immune health up!
- Greens: A diet high in green vegetables can help to reduce inflammation, as they are rich sources of antioxidants and other biologically active substances, which in turn can improve immune function.
- Turmeric: Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. Tumeric is an excellent immune-booster and can be cooked in dishes or taken in a capsule/tincture form.
Fight Viruses: Get Sleep!
Let’s look at the sleep patterns of a caveman without electricity. Circadian rhythms or our internal 24-hour clock are established, depending upon the season and the sun. There was no staring at blue lights right before bed, or being in buildings with artificial lights beaming down on them all day long. Their body biologically followed the rhythm of the sun and the seasons. Sleep-wake cycles were guided by that first light kissing their skin in the morning. They slept and woke following the sun and the seasons.
This natural rhythm is part of our basic biology, down to the cellular level. Our trillions of microbes in our microbiome both follow and are influenced by our circadian rhythm. Therefore, our sleep cycle plays a much more critical in our health than we realized. The composition and structure of our microbiome are regulated by our circadian rhythm. Our ‘master’ clock is regulated by pacemaker neurons that oscillate in our brain, but also in all of our cells, and hormone receptors. We now know that this sleep/wake cycle controls our metabolism down to the cellular level, down to our genetic expression.
Sleep loss has been associated with everything from cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, weight loss resistance, and decreased cognitive performance. S
What does this mean for us? Sleep is pretty important. We need to get some darn good sleep. Sleep needs to be one of our top priorities, in my opinion, it’s right up top, possibly the most important thing to prioritize. Yet for many of us, sleep is the first thing to go on the back burner. Adequate sleep is imperative for everything we’ve talked about so far. It’s imperative for growth hormone release and muscle repair. Sleep is also essential for our hormonal health, mood, energy, weight, mental health, and cognition.
Tips for Better Sleep?
- Get adequate sun exposure in the morning; this tells your body to produce enough melatonin at night
- Get off screens 2 hours before sleep or wear blue light blocking glasses if you must be on a screen
- Sleep in total darkness: wear an eye mask
- Go to bed early!
- Read my article on sleep 🙂
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Baggerly CA, Cuomo RE, & French CB et al. (2015). Sunlight and Vitamin D: Necessary for Public Health. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Vol 34, Issue 4.
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Rahmani, Arshad Husain, et al. “Role of Curcumin in Disease Prevention and Treatment.” Advanced biomedical research vol. 7 38. 28 Feb. 2018, doi:10.4103/abr.abr_147_16