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4 Things that May Be Sabotaging Your Immune System and What You Can Do Today that Can Make a Difference

 

  1. SNEAKY RESOVIORS OF FILTH: Everyone is upping their game right now on personal hygiene.  We are focused on hand washing, wiping things down, coughing and sneezing responsibly (into our arm or handkerchief) and not touching our faces, but there are some sneaky ways germs can infiltrate our habitat: 
    • YOUR PHONE. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that the average phone had 10X more bacteria than a toilet seat.  Since most of us check our phone upwards of 50 times per day, it can be a constant reservoir of microorganisms. 
    • YOUR KEYBOARD: If you think your phone is bad, your keyboard can be 2000X dirtier than your phone. 
    • YOUR ID BADGE: Your ID badge for school or work is another frequently used item that we touch multiple times per day.  Maybe it hangs around your neck on a dingy lanyard or is tethered at your belt by a retractable cord.  Either way it might be time to clean it or replace it.
    • YOUR REFRIGERATOR & MICROWAVE: Refrigerator handle, microwave handle and keypad are some of the dirtiest places in your kitchen, and because of their high use during food prep, they are the perfect way to pass germs around your entire family.
    • YOUR STEERING WHEEL: After what we’ve told you so far, you won’t be surprised that the steering wheel in your vehicle is also a repository of microorganisms. For that matter, you can now identify several things high use or high traffic areas that might need a good wipe down: TV remote, light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles, etc. 
 START TODAY:  Wipe down high use items on a regular basis.

 

  1. GETTING OUT OF YOUR ROUTINE: Your body thrives on routine. Ideally, our most important processes should run on a schedule.  Your body will fight to maintain important rhythms related to digestion, blood pressure, metabolism, sleep and temperature.  Keeping routines for eating, sleeping and exercising can be a powerful way to boost your immunity. Disruptive behaviors like lack of sleep, late-night snacking or over-training can cause your body’s natural rhythms to become off-balanced, compromising your ability to maintain optimal health. 

START TODAY:  Whether you are working from home or working long shifts, protect your health by making an effort to maintain or establish a daily routine.  You will reap the most benefit from eating and sleeping at the same times each day.  Additionally, taking a break between your last meal and bedtime will help to reinforce your body’s natural rhythm.  The easiest way to do this is to eat dinner 3-4 hours before bed and then refrain from snacking after dinner.

 

  1. STRESS IS THE ENEMY: Stress is not just the enemy of mental well-being, it can also have a negative impact on your immune system. How the stress impacts the immune system depends upon the type and duration of stress.  Even short-term stress can increase levels of pro-inflammatory molecules, while long term stress can reduce our immune’s system’s responsiveness. 
START TODAY:  Spend some time outdoors.  The exercise and extra vitamin D can have a positive impact on both mood and immunity.  Stay connected to family and friends, even if that communication is digital.

 

  1. OVERINDULGING: We all have our little weaknesses. Unfortunately, giving in to our naughty cravings too often can negatively impact our immunity. Too much sugar, smoking, and alcohol can weaken our bodies’ protective systems by causing unwanted changes to your microbiome, increasing inflammation and suppressing immune response.

START TODAY: Adopt a policy of “selective indulgence” where you still treat yourself occasionally, but limit consumption of these “vices” on a day to day basis.  Instead, opt for these healthy treats: nutrient dense, fresh vegetables; a boost of plant healthy protein in a delicious chocolate diablo smoothie; or fresh, polyphenol rich, fruit dessert. 

 

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

If you are considering a plant-based diet or other lifestyle changes to improve your health, but feel overwhelmed, remember that small changes can make a big difference.  Get started today.  Studies have shown that people who begin making healthy choices, even in small increments, can experience real health benefits.  Some studied examples include:

Baby Step

Benefit of just a baby step

Ultimate Goal

Eat more plants.  Increase fruit and vegetable intake by 2-3/ servings per day. 

A minimum of 4 servings/ day was shown to increase lifespan, but benefits continue to increase with each additional serving.

10+ servings per day

Replace 1-2 meals per week with plant protein instead of animal protein.  Consistently make easy substitutions, plant protein shakes, veggie crumbles in sauces and casseroles.  Reduce red meat consumption to 1-2X per month.

Reducing meat intake has a protective effect, especially processed or red meat. Research shows that people who eat red meat are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes. 

Whether your goal is to become a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or eat some other plant friendly diet, you can expect to have short and long term health benefits.   consistently make easy substitutions, plant protein shakes, veggie crumbles in sauces and casseroles.  Reduce red meat consumption to 1-2X per month.

Take a walk for 30 minutes/ day 3-5 days per week. 

 

Health benefits will come from moderate exercise, even if you don’t lose weight. More energy, better metabolism and mood.  Reduction in chronic illness risk factors.

At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity—plus muscle-strengthening exercises—at least two days/ week. 

Lose just 5% of body weight. 

 

Better heart and joint health. Reduction in inflammation and sleep apnea issues.  

Healthy BMI

 

 

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