As you get ready to go back to work and back into your community, there’s an important factor you need to consider… the status of your immune health. While you might have been isolating at home in order to stay healthy during the pandemic, you should keep in mind that your body may need some help transitioning before getting back into the real world Enhancing your immune system could help ensure that your body can handle all the bugs and foreign substances it may encounter soon.
Is Your Immune System Less Than Optimal From Quarantine?
Since you’ve been in quarantine for the past couple of months, you may think you have nothing to worry about when you start interacting with other people and resuming life as normal. You may want to think again. Your health may be good now, but your immune system could be lower than normal.
Reasons Why You Could Have A Weak Immune System Coming Out Of Quarantine
Let’s face it, for many people, these past couple months have been stressful. Whether you are trying to work from home with the kids running around, or dealing with the unknowns of unstable finances and job outlook, we are all battling our own struggles right now. The bad news is that all this stress can influence our immune health negatively. Chronic stress will increase cortisol hormone levels. When these levels are elevated over long periods of time, it can decrease your levels of lymphocytes and suppress your immune system. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that play a vital role in immune health by helping to fight off infections. If your lymphocyte levels are low and your body comes in contact with foreign invaders, it won’t have as many resources to fight it and to properly stage the defense and attack against the invader.
Lack of Sleep
Are you staying up late watching Netflix or doing more scrolling on your phone at night in order to feel connected to the outside world? This lack of sleep could be doing your immune health harm. Your body needs a solid 7-9 hours (give or take) of sleep each night to cycle through the natural stages of the sleep cycle. This is critical for your body to be able to rest and restore. If you don’t allow your body to go through this natural cycle, your body can become more susceptible to infections. People who are sleep deprived have higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers. Over time, these increased markers can cause chronic diseases and other health issues like anxiety, depression, mood disorders and other inflammatory conditions.
Mental Health and A Lack of Human Connection
Being isolated from friends, family, and coworkers can have a huge effect on your mental health. Not only are we all trying to wrap our heads around experiencing a pandemic, but we also don’t have the human connection we are used to. Many people are experiencing anxiety, depression, and loneliness. We know there is a mind-body bidirectional connection that affects our health. A weakened immune system can lead to depression and anxiety, but depression and anxiety can also lead to a weakened immune system. Immune response has been shown to be weakened by loneliness and reduced social engagement. Since we all have not been socially interacting as much as we’d like, it’s normal as a human being to feel this sense of loneliness. However, just be aware that because of this, your immune health may not be as optimal right when you get out of quarantine.
How has your diet been these last couple of weeks or even months? I can not tell you how many people have come in saying how they have fallen off track with their healthy eating habits. Sales for convenient and comfort foods have gone through the roof across the country and world during this time. Do you find yourself picking at food in your pantry or mindlessly grabbing handfuls of snacks every time you enter the kitchen? It might be a different story if these snacks were organic vegetables or fruits, but the majority of people are over making healthy meals at this point and just want an easy choice to grab for. The grocery stores may also be low in fresh produce, leaving you to the prepackaged food choices. Since our eating habits are one of the major factors influencing our immune health, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge the kinds of foods we’ve been putting into our body. Since we are getting close to getting back into the normal world, it’s vital that you hop back on that health train. Stop by the farmers market and load up. Not only can you start preparing your body by giving it immune-supporting nutrients, but you can do your grocery shopping outdoors, which helps reduce the risk of spreading viruses/illness
Why Enhancing Your Immune System is Important, Especially During This Time
Because of the reasons we laid out above, it’s important to start incorporating immune-enhancing practices into your routine. By the time you go back to work and out into the community, your risk of contracting an illness will be much lower and is frankly your best defense towards the Sars Cov 2 and many other viruses we will be exposed to. Keep your health your top priority so you don’t fall ill as soon as you get your normal life back! Start now to enhance your health since it’s not a quick overnight fix. Most importantly, focus on fixing your gut so your microbiome is in balance. A healthy gut is essential in fighting off infections and illnesses since 80% of the immune system begins in the gut! Here are some easy ways you can help your gut and enhance your immune system.
Ways To Naturally Enhance Your Immune System
● Food: Consume as many whole organic foods as possible. Make sure you are getting an abundance of antioxidants through green vegetables, fruits, and other vegetables. Avoid processed foods like frozen meals, baked goods, and chips. Also, stay away from foods that have a lot of added sugar. Be aware that sugar can be hidden as an ingredient under the names of fructose, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, cane juice, honey, fruit juice, and other names.
● Supplements: Incorporate some supplements into your diet including; Vitamin C, D, Zinc, Probiotics, Turmeric, Ginger, and /or Echinacea
● Good Bacteria: make sure your gut microbiome is healthy and ready for the re-exposure to the outside world. Eat foods that are gut healing like bone broths and fermented foods. Taking supplements like probiotics can be hugely beneficial as well
● Hand Sanitizer: While it’s ok to use simple ingredient based hand sanitizers. Careful to not over utilize these.
● Exercise: Get outside and start moving your body. Getting active can enhance your immune system. If you can exercise in nature, it’s even better because it can also reduce your cortisol levels. Don’t over-exercise, however, because being too hard on your body can actually cause more inflammation in the body, which does more harm than good.
● Hydration: Make sure you are staying well hydrated through this time! Our immune system is influenced by our lymphatic system, which helps eliminate toxins and waste. Hydration can help keep your lymphatic system running smoothly, and your immune system working efficiently.
● Sleep: Make sleep a priority! Try to get into a routine of going to bed before a certain time each night. You won’t regret getting a couple more hours of rest instead of staying up mindlessly watching something on TV or on your phone. It’ll still be there in the morning!
If you are interested in boosting your immune system fast before you head back to work, get in touch with in2GREAT Functional Medicine Clinic located in Kansas City. Not only do they offer IV therapies, but they also offer a number of other services that can optimize your health. You can get in contact with in2GREAT to make an appointment here or give them a call at (913) 308-0174.