Fortifying Your Immune System to Protect Your Health
We have questioned as to when this topic should be addressed. Boosting your immune system could have been discussed at any given time throughout this year but we decided that in autumn we might accomplish a two for one…so here we are. We have all been immersed in the Coronavirus pandemic this year but we are now quickly approaching the cold and flu season. Have you been consuming healthy, nutritious foods or has your diet slipped some since the pandemic quarantine? Whatever you’ve been doing, your secret is safe with us but we are here to help jog your memory about some helpful immune system boosters. Stress and uncertainty can put an unhealthy strain on one’s body during these demanding times setting us up for the germs to jump on board and weaken us. A healthy immune system can fight off infections more than a weakened, sleep-deprived immune system. What can be done to prepare our immune system to combat these future germs heading our way? Vitamins B, C, D, and Zinc have been on the radar. So, let’s start with those:
Vitamin B Complex: Vitamin B6 is essential to keeping your immune system in top condition and is involved in the production of hemoglobin, the protein in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin B6 is essential to keeping your immune system in top condition and is involved in the production of hemoglobin, the protein in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Food sources: kidney beans, poultry, meat, milk, eggs, fortified cereals/bread, and sunflower seeds. Vitamin C: Can help reduce inflammation. This is a big one because lung inflammation can be a severe symptom of COVID-19 and/or flu and colds. And for those of us with a spinal cord injury (SCI) that compromises our lung function, this can set us up for respiratory distress or even death. Food sources: broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, cantaloupe, orange, grapefruit, and strawberries. Vitamin D: Can also protect you from respiratory infections. Vitamin D supplementation is stated to significantly decrease the chance of respiratory tract infections. Food sources: salmon, tuna, sardines, fortified cereals/juices, milk, cheese, egg yolks, and of course, plenty of sunshine. Zinc: Can help resolve symptoms such as nasal congestion, nasal drainage, sore throat, and cough sooner. Zinc has also been found to help produce and activate T-cells, which trigger the body to respond to infections. Food sources: meat, shellfish, legumes, dairy, seed/nuts, eggs, and whole grains. Other methods to include in your daily routine to avoid those dreadful viruses: Eat Right Why? You know why but allow us to repeat. Unhealthy eating can lead to obesity, increased blood pressure, and heart disease. Consume fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats and avoid adding salt. Get Active Why? A sedentary lifestyle can lead to cardiovascular disease. This doesn’t mean to head to the gym, it just means to move - anything other than sitting in your chair 18 hours a day. Make it fun but any moving is better than doing nothing.
Manage Your Weight Why? By avoiding weight gain, you avoid higher risks of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer. As people age and with SCI, body composition gradually shifts - the proportion of muscle decreases, and the proportion of fat increases. This shift slows down metabolism making it easier to gain weight. Choose foods that supply the appropriate number of calories to maintain a healthy weight. Control Your Stress Why? Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Stress can raise cortisol levels leading to increases in cholesterol. Try yoga, meditation, listening to relaxing music, and going for a walk or “roll” to destress. Quit Smoking Why? Does this “why” really require a response? You all know the answer.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep Why? Sleep assists in healing the body. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals close to bedtime. Sleeping in a cool, dark room with a consistent bedtime under cozy covers can all aid in the quantity and quality of your zzz’s.
And always keep hands away from your face, continue to wash them frequently, use hand sanitizer, wear a mask, social distance, and avoid large gatherings if possible. This should become a way of health on a daily basis, cold and flu season, or not. And as The Rollin’s RNs suggest every year…GET YOUR FLU VACCINE. And inquire about other vaccines that may be of benefit such as those for pneumonia or shingles. Most can be obtained at your local pharmacy at your healthcare provider’s discretion. As with any of our articles, we are merely bringing suggestions to light. Always check in with your healthcare provider to get care that is catered to your personal health. It’s all good, so keep on rollin’. Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN The Rollin’ RNs ™ References: Coping with Stress. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html. Preventing Weight Gain. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/prevention/index.html. The Health and Brain Benefits of Vitamin B6. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/benefits-of-vitamin-b6.aspx. Vitamins vs. COVID-19? These 3, and Zinc, Will Reinforce Your Immune System. https://healthnewshub.org/vitamins-vs-covid-19-these-3-and-zinc-will-reinforce-your-immune-system/.