How To Support Immune Health
By Megan Roosevelt, RDN & Founder of HealthyGroceryGirl.com
Why Immune Health Is Important
Your immune system plays an important role in keeping you healthy by working to keep bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins out of your body. Your immune system also fights harmful substances from the environment as well as disease states that may occur in your own body. For our overall well-being, it’s important to implement habits that support immune function and minimize habits that may hinder immune health.
What Can Affect Immune Health
There are many different things that can negatively affect our immunity from lifestyle, environment, habits to diet. Below are a few!
Stress: When we are chronically stressed, our body produces a greater level of the hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol can lead to inflammation and cause a decrease in our immune system function. Stress can also decrease our white blood cells, which are the cells that help us fight off infections such as the cold or flu.
Lack of Sleep: Sleep is the time that our body can rest, repair, and recharge. When we aren’t having consistent or quality sleep, our immune system doesn’t have time to strengthen or adapt to what is going on in the body. This is why sleep deprivation can lead to illness.
Gut Health: Did you know that around 70% of our immune system is found in the endothelium lining around our gut?! This is why what we eat can have a positive or negative impact on our immunity. Nourishing our “good” gut microbes, also called probiotics, with foods rich in prebiotic fiber can aid in healing our gut and keeping immunity strong. Some foods that may negatively impact the immune system are processed foods, fried foods, foods with additives or preservatives, alcohol, and foods with high sugar.
Sugar: Sugar can negatively impact immune health in different ways including causing damage to the gut, called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can lead to inflammation, which may suppress immunity and cause illness. Diets high in sugar may also lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, all of which may cause dysfunction to the immune system.
5 Tips To Support Immune Health Today!
1. A Better Sugar Swap! Finding a great sugar alternative that performs like sugar and tastes as good as sugar didn’t really exist until Purecane! Purecane is derived from sugarcane, but is sugar-free! It does not raise blood sugar levels and contains no artificial chemicals. I love using Purecane as a sugar substitute in baked goods or in my morning coffee!
2. Eat Prebiotic Fiber: All plant foods, which include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes all contain prebiotic fiber. This is the fiber that feeds your good gut microbes and helps heal your gut microbiome. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system! So in short, eat more plant- based foods!
3. Exercise: Exercise supports immune health by increasing blood flow, reducing stress, and strengthening your cells that help fight infection. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3-5 days per week!
4. Adequate Sleep: Aim to sleep for 7-9 hours each night and try to stick with the same bedtime routine allowing your immune system to rest and recharge. One way I like to wind down at night is by taking an epsom salt bath. If you feel like your mind is always racing when you lay down, journal or talk through your thoughts to help empty your brain before sleep.
5. Eat Hydrating Foods: Soups, smoothies, and water-dense foods are a great way to nourish and hydrate! Hydrating and nutrient-dense meals are a great way to fight sickness and nourish your body! Ingredients such as garlic, onions, dark leafy greens, turmeric, and ginger also great immune-supporting foods!
Have a happy and healthy day!
You can stay connected with Megan Roosevelt, RDN on Instagram at @HealthyGroceryGirl, watch recipe videos at YouTube.com/HealthyGroceryGirl or visit her recipe and wellness blog at HealthyGroceryGirl.com
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