If 2020 was the year of challenges, then 2021 should be the year of “building your immunity”. I think we’ve all had our share of health problems, whether they are genetic or brought on by unhealthy habits. But what I’ve learned from the pandemic and seeing how others are building their immunity, it’s clear that maintaining your health is one of the most important aspects in beating most illnesses.
While some of us are lucky with long term great health – never really getting sick except for a few sniffles here and there. The majority of people tend to get a few colds throughout the year or even the flu once or twice. Add in COVID health issues, we must do all that we can to maintain good health and prolong our good practices.
Below are some ways you can boost your immunity throughout the year, with emphasis for those with special dietary choices:
– EAT A BALANCED DIET RICH IN FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. I can’t say enough how important it is to eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Originally established as the “5 A Day” campaign by the World Health Organization , doctors and scientists determined that adults need to have at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables during the day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But rules have changed in accordance to where you live as well as your own lifestyle. However, to maintain good health, eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables still helps in the prevention of most illnesses and diseases. For children – cut that by no more than half the amount so that children can build healthy minds and bodies.
– REDUCE OR ELIMINATE SUGAR AND SALT. While our bodies do need a bit of natural salt and sugar, heavy amounts during the day can cause detrimental health issues later on in life. Obesity as well as many other health issues can cause problems with both your health and lifestyle. According to WHO, salt intake should be no more than 5 grams per day. Sugar should be no more than 10% of total energy intake. Reduce that even more for younger children.
– REDUCE STRESS. While that sounds easier said than done, when you’re committed to reducing stress factors in your life, you will eventually see a difference in your own health and mentality. Find ways of reducing stress such as meditation, slow stretching and exercising, taking walks, or reading books can be beneficial for both children and adults. Remember that children have the same stress response that adults do so keep an eye out for your kids when they are feeling stressed.
– EXERCISE. Exercising has been around since the dawn of time. Even animals do some form of exercising. Exercising helps boost the immunity as well as tone muscles and ligaments. At least 30 minutes of exercise is sufficient and adjust according to age and ability. Jogging, brisk walking, jumping ropes, and just running around are great ways to get some exercise in.
– SLEEP. Getting the proper amount of sleep is crucial in maintaining balance. As an adult, you already know how less sleep can affect your lifestyle. Imagine how tiring it is for children when they don’t get enough quality sleep. According to studies, children ages 3-6 should get approximately 10-12 hours of quality sleep each day; ages 7-12 years old should get approximately 10-11 hours of quality sleep each day; ages 12-18 years old should get approximately 8-9 hours of quality sleep each day.
– EAT PROBIOTICS. Our gut (digestive and gastrointestinal tract) helps break down food to deliver the necessary nutrients our bodies need. When we feed our bodies healthier food choices, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and plant-based milk, our gut has a better chance of appropriating these important nutrients to ensure a healthy body. Probiotics are live bacteria in our body that helps fight off certain infections and illnesses. Most people can tolerate probiotic foods such as yogurt and other fermented foods. Be sure to check labels to ensure the fermented foods contain live probiotics.
– TAKE SUPPLEMENTS. Many people nowadays do not get the proper amount of vitamins and minerals in their food. Taking supplements can boost your immunity if you’re lacking in the proper amount of vitamins. Vitamins vary by degree of efficacy, age of recipient, and type. Depending on your age and your health issues, taking supplements can fill in gaps in your daily food intake. Check with your local natural grocery store and speak with a vitamin expert on the right kind of vitamins for you. Children as young as 5 years old can take vitamins and supplements but be sure not to rely solely on vitamins and supplements.
IMMUNITY-BOOSTING FOODS FOR THOSE WITH SPECIAL DIETS:
– VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS. Because vegetarians and vegans do not eat animal protein, they can lack the importance B12 vitamin. This results in being more tired, having memory issues, and less physical balance. Eat foods rich in Vitamin B12 such as non-dairy milk and nuts.
– GLUTEN-FREE. Some people are gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive. Some simply choose not to eat gluten made food. Gluten can do harm in digestive tracts for those who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease. Choose gluten-free foods that are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as nuts, quinoa, and gently cooked vegetables.
– DAIRY INTOLERANCE. An intolerance to dairy food or lactose (basic sugar found in animal milk) can lead to stomachaches, bloating, and overall lethargy. In order to have some kind of calcium, protein, and healthy fat, those with lactose intolerance should choose foods such as plant-based milk including almond and soy which are usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
– NUT ALLERGY. Those with nut allergies can have life-threatening illnesses even death if exposed to certain nuts. The most common allergy is the peanut. In order to get the proper amounts of vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium, choose nut-free foods such as eggs, sunflower seeds, and whole grains.
With diligence, determination, and a true desire to live a healthier life, we can increase our immunity by following the above steps. Speak with your health practitioner or certified health coach for more in-depth diagnosis of any health issues. Generally speaking, building your own immunity takes time and practice and really getting to know what your body truly needs to be healthy.
* portions of this post was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op (www.newhope.com), a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people.
*photo credit gardenoflife.com, newhope.com, haliborange
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