Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System and Defense Against COVID.

Do these things to boost your chance of remaining healthy.

image by Monika Grabkows from Unsplash.com

Get enough sleep

And six hours a night doesn’t cut it. You need a minimum of 7-hours a night, though ideally eight. And the age-old argument of some people saying, “I can get by easily on just four or five hours of sleep” is incorrect. These people may think they can, but in fact, their cognitive abilities decline significantly with such little sleep. They might not be consciously aware of it, though it’s the reality.

A relevant connection has been found between COVID and sleep, which you can read about here.

In addition to a greater risk of COVID, the risks of not getting enough sleep include: it ups your cancer risk by three times, causes weight gain, is a concrete link with Alzheimer’s, and short-circuits your ability to learn, problem-solve, and store memories.

In short, make getting enough sleep every night a high priority. It’s a big one in terms of health.

Eat a lot of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens

Kraft macaroni and cheese has zero nutrients in it. Zilch. Eating it is akin to consuming cardboard. Same thing for chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, bread products, alcohol, cake, boxed snacks, and candy.

And not only do these things have zero nutrients in them, but many of them are even poisonous to your body.

These types of food are garbage. They weaken your immune system. All of it causes bit by bit and with time, the diminishment of your health. If you are worried about maintaining your health during this time (and you should be), the things you should be consuming in abundance, if able to afford them, are quite the opposite.

They include:

  • Salmon and other fishes (wild-caught)
  • Shrimp
  • Chicken, turkey, and small amounts of red meat (without hormones)
  • Eggs
  • Dark leafy greens like Bok Choy, spinach, and kale
  • Onions, leeks, scallions
  • Garlic
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers
  • Avocados
  • Figs
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Oranges
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Pomegranate
  • Tomatoes
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc.
  • Olive oil
  • Plain, whole milk, Greek yogurt
  • Almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, one of these non-dairy kinds of milk
  • Goat cheese
  • Cheddar cheese, Asiago, Gouda, etc.
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Boxed pasta made with rice flour. This is the only type of pasta (without the usual wheat) that is made with nontoxic things for you.
  • Buckwheat flour (for making pancakes with. They taste so good, you’ll never realize that buckwheat isn’t a wheat at all, but instead, is a fruit seed) (Here is a great recipe for blueberry buckwheat pancakes, another for blueberry ricotta pancakes, and one for pumpkin turmeric pancakes).
  • And, make sure to drink lots of green tea. It has incredible health benefits.

The Wheat Belly Cookbook by Dr. William Davis is a great resource for tasty recipes. Then even have pizza, which we’ve already test-driven. It’s delicious.

Exercise for 30-minutes every single day

Getting exercise every day, and not just walking but something that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweaty is crucial.

Many people since the arrival of COVID have grown a lot more sedentary. They are working from home and likely sitting for hours on end. This is terrible for our physical and mental health.

Aside from causing weight gain, it also weakens your muscles and your immune system. It increases your risk of tons of different diseases, not exercising every day.

Make a point to put in the effort and exercise several times every week (even when you don’t feel like it), if not daily.

Keep stress in your life low

Stress weakens your immune system, thus making you more likely to fall very ill when viruses enter your body (instead of being able to fight them off).

Take deep breaths when things stress you out. Have a close confidant you can speak with about it. Personally, I also recommend seeing a therapist once or twice a month, even if you don’t actively have “issues” you’re working on, its an awesome outlet. If you like and connect with this person (and you should, since that’s how a good therapist makes you feel), therapy is a great thing.

And make a point to do things you enjoy every day. Read a gripping, awesome book. Speak with friends regularly on Skype or by phone. Go on a walk outside with a loved one. Play with your pets. Head out for a walk in the snowy woods. Bake or cook something delicious. Watch a funny movie or some stand up comedy. Dance in your living room. Exercise. Do yoga. Go skiing. Go ice skating. Sledding. You get the idea.

Do not sit for 6, 7, 8 hours a day

In addition to getting some heart-pumping cardio every day, do not otherwise just sit around. This is terrible for your body and mind.

Research now shows that the frequency which we spend sitting has detrimental effects on our health- some studies even say, equal to or potentially worse than from smoking.

Here are some damaging effects of sitting for hours a day:

  • Weight gain
  • Prolonged sitting time can slow down your circulation and cause blood to pool in the legs and feet, which can lead to varicose veins, swollen ankles, or even dangerous blood clots like deep vein thrombosis.
  • When our body burns less fat and blood circulation is poor, there’s an increased chance of fatty acids blocking the arteries in the heart. This links inactive sitting to elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Sitting all day loosens and weakens the muscles in the body, particularly those in the midsection and lower body.
  • According to a 2017 study that examined the link between diabetes and total sitting time, there is a higher risk of diabetes in physically inactive people, with prolonged sitting being a major contributing factor.
  • Prolonged sitting and slouching causes a variety of problems for your neck, shoulders, back, and hips.
  • The longer you sit and maintain bad posture, the more likely you are to experience chronic pain in areas such as your neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. Back pain is a prevalent health problem in the U.S. and is considered one of the most common job-related disabilities.
  • Sitting all day can give you anxiety and depression. It’s easy to figure out why: those who sit all day don’t get to enjoy the health and mood-boosting benefits that come with exercise and staying fit. At the same time, being in front of the computer or TV all day limits sun exposure and social interaction, which leads to vitamin D deficiency and can result in strong feelings of loneliness.
  • Perhaps the scariest side effect of prolonged sitting is the risk of getting lung, colon, breast, uterine, and endometrial cancers.

Make time for solitude

Solitude, meaning, not watching T.V., not scrolling on your cell phone screen or texting, not even reading a book.

True solitude means being alone with just yourself and your thoughts. Each person should make at least 20 minutes a day for this.

Why?

Because without time to think and process the feelings and experiences of our lives, we cannot fully know ourselves or understand deeply the life we are living. We are less likely to address problems that need solving or to consider other relevant aspects of our lives in depth. Not doing this is a loss. An examined life tends to be a much better life lived.

It’s also crucial for winding down and experiencing quiet, which is in short supply in our current day. People who do make time for such solitude are often also more creative, more insightful, and more emotionally mature and mentally healthy, than those who do not.

Maintain, make time for, and put effort into your social connections

This is just as important as solitude. The healthy and happy social connections of our lives are significant in terms of our mental and emotional health.

They buoy us in difficult times. They decrease our stress. Great relationships (friendship, romantic, family, neighbor, colleague, mentor, you name it) teach us important life lessons. They can inspire us and offer us new ideas for thinking, loving, or living that we hadn’t considered prior. They add joy and fun to our lives. And they can offer a sense of emotional support when things are challenging.

Having a few quality, emotionally close, uplifting social connections in your life is crucial to mental and emotional health, and even to a fully realized, enriched life.

Find and maintain a sense of purpose

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote about his experience in Auschwitz, wanting to discover what differentiated the people who survived the camps from those who didn’t? (Health issues aside). He found, over much time and research, that it was the people who had a sense of meaning in their life who survived.

People who were, for instance, working on a book they longed to finish and publish once they got out, or someone who yearned to see their spouse or children again. Those who had something they were working toward or striving for, which filled their spirit and life with a sense of meaning and purpose, were the ones who often survived. The people who lacked this often perished.

As Barbara Kingsolver put it, “the difference between happy people and unhappy ones is that happy people have found a use for themselves, like a good tool.”

Avoid sugar, wheat, and alcohol

A new study concludes there’s no amount of alcohol consumption that’s safe for overall health — a finding that’s likely to surprise moderate drinkers, and that has left some experts unconvinced. This is from TIME magazine. The point though is whether you agree or not, having more than a drink or two per week (not per day) is unlikely to be good for your health.

Sugar and wheat are also terrible for your health. Here’s an article about how wheat destroys your health. In short, though, wheat is addictive, it causes weight gain over time, joint pain, ruins your skin, muddles your thinking, and causes diabetes. And at this point, it’s common knowledge that sugar is horrible for your health. It causes inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and ruins your skin, just to name a few. It’s also highly addicting.

The best thing you can do for your diet? Eat very little of these or, even better, cut them out entirely.

Of course, partaking in all of these healthy habits is no guarantee against getting quite sick from COVID, but, if you do all of these things, it does make the risk of you getting incredibly sick from COVID (if and when you do eventually catch it) way less. It significantly increases the chances that, instead, your body will be strong, as healthy as it can be, and very able to fight it off.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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