Arthur Belebeau/Trunk Archive
One of people’s primary questions during this Coronavirus pandemic is, “What can I do to boost my immune system?” Wondering that ourselves, we turned to our resident health and nutrition expert, Sarah Wragge, for some answers. It turns out there are a number of simple things we can be doing right now in the comfort of home — and the first place to start is with our gut.
You hear the term “gut health” all the time. Over 75% of our immune system lives in our gastrointestinal tract. Lined with about 100 trillion live microorganisms – this complex ecosystem of both beneficial and harmful bacteria promotes healthy digestion, protects the body from infection, and regulates the immune system.
“If our gut microbiome is balanced and functioning well, then our immune system is ready for action”, says Sarah. “Make your gut the priority right now.” Here are 3 simple ways:
Probiotics increase the good bacteria living inside our gut and fight the bad. You can get your probiotics in supplement form or from different foods. If you’re opting for the former, look for one with 10 billion cultures or higher, and at least 5 different bacteria strains like Renew Life.
Foods that are naturally high in probiotics are anything fermented like raw sauerkraut (check out the amazing assortment from Hawthorne Valley), pickles, and Kimchi. Popular health tonics like apple cider vinegar and kombucha are also a great source of probiotics. Look for brands like Brew Dr., Health-Ade, Kevita, and Synergy that are lower in sugar than some of the others.
One of the most important factors in maintaining our gut and overall health is a balanced pH level of acidity and alkalinity. When there are toxins present in our system, or we’re fighting infection, our system is more acidic. Leafy and cruciferous green vegetables like spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, and kale are very alkaline and balancing as such. All are available and plentiful in grocery stores right now. Everyone has been stocking up on dry goods and non-perishables, but don’t forget to eat your vegetables!
1 small bottle of Harmless Harvest coconut water
1/2 organic cucumber
Handful of organic spinach
Small piece of ginger
1/2 lime squeezed
1/2 organic pear or apple
3. Rest & Sleep
Staying at home, we have all been thrown off our normal fitness routines. The good news is there is a plethora of home, streaming, and Instagram workouts (see here), but you want to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Says Sarah, “I hear people bragging about working out for 3 hours and doing multiple classes a day, but that’s doing more harm than good. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep (7-8 hours) and not wearing yourself down. You don’t want to do anything to compromise your immune system.”
If you’re jonesing for a workout, try taking it down a notch. Instead of another HIIT or dance cardio class — opt for yoga, Pilates, or barre. Sometimes the mellower, slow burn workouts can be even more challenging than a high-intensity class. Or try a workout for your mind instead of your body. (See Yoga/Barre/Pilates). Many of the most popular digital fitness platforms offer mind/body classes like stretching, meditation — and even a Chakra Sound Bath! There are also meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, Inscape, and Breethe – which even has Coronavirus anxiety specific meditations.
We are already taxing our immune system, operating at such a high stress level with the constant barrage of news about this pandemic. “You don’t need to crush it every day”, says Sarah. “There is an overwhelming sense we should be doing more because we have time on our hands, but some of that would be better spent on centering and grounding ourselves… breathe, sleep, relax.”
For more health & nutrition features from Sarah…