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7 Tips to Boost Your Immune Function this COVID & Flu Season 

There is still so much unknown about the coronavirus, but having a healthy, functioning immune system will always be helpful in reducing the effects of the virus if contracted, and, could possibly be helpful in the prevention of even contracting the virus at all.

Here are a few tips on how to strengthen your immune system for the cold-&-flu season 🤧

🔵 Nutrition

Vitamin C is arguably the most essential nutrient for immune function — it produces white blood cells (the first line of defense against viruses and infections) and gives an overall boost to your body’s immune system.  While oranges and other citrus fruits are most commonly associated with vitamin C, there are several surprising foods that are top sources of this essential vitamin.

A 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli boasts 84% of the RDI for this vitamin C

Sweet potato, butternut squash, red bell peppers — basically all orange, yellow and red fruits and veggies will fulfill your daily quota of Vitamin C.  In fact, mango, papaya & pineapple🍍all have more V-C per serving than an orange 🍊

So start by incorporating all the orange harvest season fruits and vegetables Vitamin-C-jam-packed fruits & veggies that just so happen to be in season right now.  Lemon provides 1️⃣8️⃣7️⃣% of your RDI of vitamin C.

Chestnuts are loaded with vitamin C — 100g provides 72% your RDI.

🔵 Aromatherapy

Eucalyptus oil has been used for hundreds of years to treat respiratory problems, but its medicinal uses have been gaining more attention recently in conventional medicine — so much so that you’ll find it in many of the over-the-counter medicines you likely already have in your home.

Eucalyptus oil is a bronchial dilator (increases airflow to the lungs) and is thus used for treating everything from cough, cold, running nose & sore throat, to asthma, nasal congestion, sinusitis & bronchitis.

Laurel is another powerful antiseptic aid for respiratory illnesses due to its high amounts of 1,8 cineole — especially for colds with catarrh & chronic bronchitis.

🔵 Cryotherapy

From cold-water immersion to frigid air exposure, cryotherapy has been around in one form or another for ages —from Roman frigidarium to modern-day ice baths.  But sitting in a tub of water chilled to 50° isn’t exactly pleasant for most people 😳

Enter cryotherapy.  Cryotherapy involves short exposure to extreme cold via a cryo-chamber – a human-sized tank filled with liquid nitrogen-cooled air ❄️ You sit or stand for 2-3 minutes as the temp plummets to as low as -300°F 🥶 This burst of intense cold triggers the production of a low dose of stress that keeps your cells on their toes.  It elicits an adaptive response & activates white cells.  Your bolstered immune system can then fight off viruses & disease factors 🤒

🔵 Massage Therapy

Clinical studies have indicated that regular massage not only helps alleviate pain and stress but also increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses.

Massage therapy has been shown to naturally increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall.  Recent studies out of Cedars-Sinai have shown regular massage therapy sessions to have a direct impact on the body’s immune markers — such as increased levels of lymphocyte (one of the three subsets of white blood cells in the immune system which play a large role in defending the body from disease), as well as the significantly improved function of NK-cells, which provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells.

🔵 Exercise

 A regular exercise routine helps keep your immune system functioning at top levels. Exercise increases blood flow and circulation of immune cells. Exercise also helps to recruit highly specialized immune cells such as natural killer cells and T cells, which find pathogens (like viruses) and wipe them out. (source)  When you’re physically active, you can keep pathogens out of your lungs and airways, minimizing illness.

If you are already doing regular exercise, then keep it up! If not, you can start by walking a couple of times a week and then over time add in more cardio workout and strength training.

🔵 Sleep

 Not only is getting the right number of hours of sleep a night important (7-8 hours) but also making sure you are getting quality sleep as well.  Studies show that people who do not get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. This is because when you sleep, your body produces protective cytokines that help fight off infectious diseases.

🔵 Break Unhealthy Habits 

 Smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also attribute to having a vulnerable immune system. Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption leads to compromised immune systems and an increase in respiratory infections. “Alcohol has diverse adverse effects throughout the body, including on all cells of the immune system, that lead to increased risk of serious infections,” said Dr. E. Jennifer Edelman, a Yale Medicine addiction medicine specialist. For example, in the lings, alcohol damages the immune cells and fine hairs that are supposed to clear pathogens out of our airways. (source) According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, alcohol consumption should be up to one drink a day for women or two per day for men.

Similar to drinking alcohol, smoking also damages the immune system and can weaken the body to fight off diseases. Quitting smoking improves circulation, increases oxygen levels, and lowers inflammation — all of which give your immune system a boost, so it’s easier to fight off colds and other illnesses. (source)