6 Things You Can Do To Keep Your Immune System Strong
By Marilee Nelson |
There's little that's more important than taking good care of your health. And these days, that means doing everything you can to keep your immune system strong and resilient. Fortunately, supporting immunity doesn’t have to be stressful, expensive, or time consuming--even during a pandemic! Here's what you can do to keep your families’ immune systems going strong.
#1: Open the windows for 10 minutes, twice a day
This old European tradition is one of the easiest things you can do to improve indoor air quality and reduce exposure to pathogens like viruses and bacteria, allergens, products and materials that contain VOCs like household cleaning products as well as chemicals which ride on dust called, SVOCs, and heavy metals.
Even if you have a high-quality air purifier going at home, you dust regularly, etc. it’s a good idea to freshen and dilute the air when weather permits by throwing open windows for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon. While some days it may be just too cold or too hot, we do try to make this happen whenever possible. In addition to improving indoor air quality, research has shown that bringing in fresh air increases the oxygen content of the air and contains a wealth of beneficial microbes which can help build and diversify your microbiome.
#2: Toss the Toxins
In an article dated March 27, 2020, the New York Times stated that increased exposure to chemicals/pollution in the air increases our susceptibility to infection. Having products with harmful chemicals throughout our home actually makes us more vulnerable to disease and catching contagious illness. Strengthen your family’s resistance to illness with this no-cost easy way to boost the immune system - Toss The Toxins. Better air means better health. This is foundational to your family’s health and immunity!
#3: Eat real food
It’s remarkable how much food can impact our immunity and overall well-being. For example, simple fruits and vegetables like oranges and broccoli are chock-full of immune boosting compounds such as antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E) which keep inflammation at bay, fiber which promotes intestinal health and feeds healthy gut bacteria, natural sugars which fuel the liver and provide energy, and loads of other beneficial nutrients. Yet, according to the CDC fewer than 1 in 10 US adults and adolescents eat enough fruits and vegetables a day (the recommendation being just 5-7 servings), and over half of US adults still consume at least one sugary beverage daily.
Luckily, improving eating habits doesn’t have to be difficult if you focus on eating REAL FOOD. This means shopping the perimeter of the grocery stores and avoiding boxed, canned, or packaged foods, opting for organic whenever possible, avoiding processed foods with harmful ingredients (even “organic” or “all-natural” varieties), cooking without the use of refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, MSG, refined table salt (we use sea salt or Himalayan pink salt), refined oils, and other food additives.
Does this mean you never buy anything packaged or prepared and make all your meals and baked goods from scratch? No, but reading labels to make sure you avoid excitotoxins, inflammatory oils, etc. even on boxes that say organic is key! As busy working mothers with babies and children at home we definitely love supporting ethical food companies who make healthy snacks, baked goods, condiments, prepared foods, etc. made with real foods. To learn more, check out: How to Eat Clean on a Budget, The Ultimate Healthy Snacks Guide, and The Surprising Ways Refined Sugar Affects Your Health and Immune Function (and tips for avoiding it).
#4: Use soap and water when you can instead of hand sanitizers
The CDC and other health authorities agree that the best defense against pathogens, including coronavirus, flu, etc. is good old fashioned soap! Plus, antibacterial products simply haven’t been shown to work any better than soap. Per the FDA: “...the manufacturers haven’t proven that those ingredients are safe for daily use over a long period of time. Also, manufacturers haven’t shown that these ingredients are any more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illnesses and the spread of certain infections
That’s because soap dismantles the lipid layer which protects viruses, which you then scrub off using friction and rinse right down the sink.
When we’re at home or at the office, we use Branch Basics Foaming Wash regularly to remove germs on hands, and when we’re out and about we keep a bottle of Mini All Purpose or Foaming Wash for the same purposes. If we don’t have access to running water we will use an unscented sanitizer from Primally Pure, Luminance or Dr. Bronner's.
For more info on healthier hand hygiene, check out: Hand Soap vs. Hand Sanitizer: Why “Antibacterial” is a Dirty Word and 4 Steps to Healthier Hands, Why We’re Not Disinfecting our Homes (even now), and Does Branch Basics Kill Germs?.
#5: Keep screen time to a minimum to optimize sleep
It’s been proven that a chronic lack of sleep can suppress immunity,
Thus, it’s really important to become aware of what can keep us up at night, and one of those is the blue light emitted from screens. Research has shown that artificial blue light interferes with our sleep/wake cycle by disrupting the production of melatonin, your body’s master sleep hormones.
We aim to turn screens off 2-3 hours before bed. If we are on screens at night, we wear blue light blocking glasses. Ideally keep phones and devices out of the bedroom.
Learn more in: Tired All The Time? 4 Steps to Get More Sleep Tonight, 5 Parent Hacks for Healthier and Happier Remote Learning, and Identifying Tech Toxins and The Easy Ways to Avoid Them for a Healthier. Happier Life.
#6: Leave our shoes at the door
Research has shown that our shoes come into contact with all kinds of things, like fecal matter, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, etc
Again, we aren't always able to make this happen with all guests but it is something we aim to do when possible.
Get all the grimy (yet fascinating facts) on what shoes are harboring in: Why We Keep a No-Shoes-Indoors Policy.
You've Got This!
With all the media focus surrounding immunity these days, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that staying healthy has to be overly complicated. And, in fact, staying healthy has a lot to do with good old fashioned commonsense.
Can you do more to enhance your family’s immunity? Absolutely! Make it a goal to toss toxic thinking and eat real food! We also invite you to explore our other articles for more helpful tips on maintaining your health and happiness. In the meantime, be safe and be well!
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.