With summer winding down and kids heading back to school, there is no better time than now to make immune system support a part of your everyday routine. Germs are inevitable, but with proper hygiene, nutrition, and immune supporting supplements, you can keep your household healthy through the fall.
5 Ways to Support Your Immune System
Eat a Balanced Diet
Micronutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals) and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) are essential for the health of your immune system and must be acquired through your diet.
A balanced diet consists of lean protein (think chicken, eggs, dairy, beef, fish, and soy), complex carbohydrates (whole grains, potatoes, legumes, beans, fruits, and vegetables), and healthy fats (avocado, healthy oils, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy like cheese). Filling your plate with nutrient-dense foods helps ensure you are getting enough calories, vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients throughout the day.
Use the 1/3rd rule when serving meals and snacks – fill 1/3rd of your plate with protein, 1/3rd with carbohydrates, and the remaining 1/3rd with fruits and/or vegetables. This is a great way to build a balanced plate.
Practice Healthy Hygiene
Handwashing is an underrated tool for washing away germs and helping maintain a healthy immune system. Make it a point to wash your hands before and after you use the bathroom, eat a meal, touch surfaces that may have germs on them, and when you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose.
Running your hands under water just is not enough. Remember to use an antibacterial hand soap or sanitizer. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds – hum your favorite tune as a timer – then rinse and dry well.
Use Immune Supporting Supplements
There is nothing that can take the place of a balanced diet; however, you can fill in the gaps with immune supporting supplements.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that cannot be produced by the body. It’s a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that plays a vital role in the absorption of iron and helps protect the immune system while fighting against free radicals. Vitamin C is necessary for growth, development and aids in the repair of all of our bodily tissues. Vitamin C supports the human body in more ways than we can count!
Vitamin D – Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is obtained through diet and time spent in the sun. It plays a role in the absorption of calcium and helps the body maintain good health. Recent studies also indicate that Vitamin D may support the maintenance of normal glucose levels, in addition to promoting a healthy metabolism and immune system. It also may contribute to emotional well-being.
Vitamin K – Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a significant role in the body for optimal blood clotting and maintaining healthy cells. Vitamin K, meanwhile, is critical in the formation of a strong bone matrix, as well as supporting proper calcium metabolism in vascular structures.
Zinc – Zinc is an essential mineral that helps control healthy body homeostasis (stable physiological processes within the body and cells). Zinc is needed for DNA synthesis, immune function, metabolism, and growth. Bisglycinate zinc is the form with superior bioavailability – that means it is more readily absorbed and gentler on the gastrointestinal system.
Quercetin – Quercetin is a polyphenol derived from plants that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Quercetin is in a ﬂavonoid family known as ﬂavanols that support the body’s normal detoxiﬁcation processes related to antioxidant activity and bind to iron in some cases, for support of healthy oxidation status. Plus, some research suggests quercetin may play a role in transport of zinc.
Elderberry - Elderberry extract provides ongoing support for the body’s elimination activities and healthy immune system response. A water-based extraction method retains the full gamut of naturally occurring essential oils, fatty acids, and phytochemicals. The elderberry has been used to support healthy levels of mucus, especially in the upper respiratory tract, support a healthy inflammatory response, promotes bowel health, and supports normal fluid balance.
Lack of sleep affects more than just your energy levels. It also takes a toll on your immune system and how well it functions to keep you healthy. Sticking to a sleep routine is an even better way of ensuring you are getting enough.
Aim to go to bed around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every day, including weekends. The body likes consistency, and you will sleep better because of it. This is true for the whole family. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, while children ages 6-12 need at least 9.
Since the body is about 60% water, and water is essential to keep your body functioning, it is a no brainer that the immune system can falter when you are dehydrated. If you don’t drink enough water, the body has a tough time delivering essential nutrients where they need to go.
To maintain the health and strength of your immune system, remember to stay hydrated. Determine how much water you need per day by dividing your body weight by 2 – that is the number of ounces you should drink per day for optimal hydration.
It is not easy to meet daily water needs with pure water alone. Luckily, coffee, tea and seltzer count towards your water goals and the water found naturally in fruits and vegetables helps too.
Though back-to-school germs are not going away any time soon, you can feel confident knowing you are doing everything you can to keep your family healthy by providing immune system support in many ways. Take a sigh of relief, starting school is stressful, make it stress-free this year. If you are still not sure how to support your immune system, talking to your healthcare professional can help you determine a protocol that works best for you.