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Easy ways to get a stronger immune system.

As someone who went through chemo/radiation at the beginning of an international pandemic, I can share with you that rebuilding my immune system was top of mind. I read extensively on the topic of immune /gut health and how to regenerate healthy cells. I’ve boiled it down to these seven easy steps that you can start today.

1. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important, aim for at least seven, but ideally eight or more hours. It’s better to go to sleep early and rise early than vice versa. According to the sleep foundation without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. If your mind races at bedtime, try these things to help settle those thoughts.

Plan your next day, to eliminate the fear of forgetting something. Create a personal wind-down ritual, which could include reading, meditation, journalling or gentle yoga. Electronics interfere with your ability to fall asleep and to get into a deep sleep. Therefore try to shut them off 60 minutes before bedtime (or more).

2) Eat a predominantly plant-based diet abundant in a variety of plant-based foods. Even if you are vegan, but you eat only a handful of vegetables over and over again, this is not good enough. It would be best if you had a wide variety of plant-based fibers in your diet. The reason is that it feeds the microbiome in your gut, and 70% of your immune system is in your gut. So quit the fiber-less processed foods and fill your plate with a variety of fruits and veggies.

3) Get outdoors every day for a leisurely walk or something gently, walk in your neighborhood, or a local trail. Get some natural sunshine (use sunscreen) and enjoy this non-stressful activity. Hiking in a forest is good for your gut microbiome, so try a nature walk for your mental and physical health.

4) Cut back on alcohol which kills the good bacterial in your gut. Smoking adversely affects the immune system, lowering your defenses. Smoking also weakens your lungs, making you more vulnerable to respiratory problems and could compromise your chances of survival if you develop respiratory disease. I know it’s not easy to quit, I smoked for 23 years and had multiple “quit attempts” before I succeeded., I encourage you to “try try again”.

5) Find ways to reduce stress in your life look at your schedule and cut out non-important activities. Stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes, the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses (this is just one of the ways stress affects your immune system).

6) Get moving regular moderate physical activity is associated with immune enhancement. Every system of the body relies on movement to function at its peak. Sitting is the new Smoking. So try to get 30 minutes of exercise daily, if you can’t do it daily aim for 4 to 5 times a week.

7) Connect with people whom you love, make you laugh and are positive. Humans thrive on social interaction, think solitary confinement as a form of torture. While we can’t necessarily interact psychically with the people we love, we can reach out by phone, Facebook and Zoom. Schedule friend chat sessions. One of my single friends has dinner over Zoom with a friend. They both cook the same recipe, then eat and talk together. Find new ways to connect.

Sheree Nicholson is the owner of Live With Spirit Yoga & Fitness studio in Whitby, Ontario. She has a certificate in plant-based nutrition from eCornell University and is working on her Masters in Metaphysics. Sheree holds certifications in Advanced Yoga, Pilates, Reebok Spinning and Kettlebell training. This benefits you as she focuses on functional movement, strength and weight loss. Sheree competed in both Canadian and American Kettlebell competitions placing in the top 3.

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