As corporate event planners, it is important that we stay healthy and support our immune systems year-round. When we feel our best, it supports our ability to execute flawless programs for our clients. As we have watched the effects of COVID-19 around the world, many have been taking into consideration how to take better care of ourselves and our families. This could be through lifestyle adjustments, a new fitness program, or perhaps better nutrition.
Food can be an amazing tool to support our immune system during this time and also long term. Let us look at a few things you can do to help support your immune system:
- Eat a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet: The best way to support our immune system is through real, whole food that is nutrient dense and minimally processed. The nutrients within foods are what can provide us the support we need to nourish our bodies and stay healthy year-round.
- Avoid sugar, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates: Foods that are highly processed can deplete our body of vital nutrients, thus weakening our immune system. These foods can also influence our metabolic health, meaning it can affect blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure. These can leader to serious, long-term health conditions, including a compromised immune system.1
- Limit or avoid alcohol: Your body views alcohol as a toxin that must be detoxed. Alcohol can deplete necessary nutrients while also suppressing the immune system. The more you avoid alcohol, the more your body can focus on functioning properly to keep you safe and your immune system strong. Limit consumption to one to two drinks per week. When you do drink, ensure that you stay properly hydrated before and after. Consider taking a liver support supplement to help your body detox.
- Get enough quality sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours of good quality sleep each night. While we sleep, our body naturally detoxes and rebuilds, which is necessary when protecting against illness. When we do not get enough sleep, we are limiting our body’s ability to fight infection.
- Support a healthy gut: Our gut houses 60% of our immune system. If our gut is unhealthy, our immune system is directly impacted. Include healing foods like bone broth and collagen to keep the walls of your gut strong. Consider adding natural probiotic rich foods in your diet like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, or kombucha.2
- Manage stress: Stress is a normal part of life. However, chronic stress that goes unmanaged can wreak havoc on several aspects of your health, especially your immune system. When we experience chronic stress, we are depleting our body of vital nutrients, such as B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Spend time each day practicing stress reducing activities like yoga, meditation, journaling, walking, or spending time with loved ones.
How You Can Improve Your Nutrition
While general health and wellness practices can do wonders in supporting a healthy and strong immune system, there are a few specific foods that are particularly beneficial when targeting immune support. Focus on these foods and nutrients to boost your immune system:
- Quality protein: Zinc is a mineral that is found in good quality proteins. Zinc is necessary for the development and functioning of the immune system. Look for grass-fed, organic beef, lamb, and pork, as well as plant-based sources like hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV): ACV contains vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants, which supports gut health and has antibacterial properties. Take a one to two tablespoon shot of ACV first thing in the morning daily. You can also mix it with water to dilute the taste.
- Garlic, ginger, and turmeric: These foods have anti-viral properties and boost the immune system. You can easily add these into recipes or make Golden Milk to help reduce inflammation and support the immune system.
- Foods rich in vitamins A, E, and C: These antioxidant vitamins all contribute to a healthy immune system. We can find these nutrients in carrots, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, bell peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli. Animal foods like salmon, liver, eggs, and butter are also great sources.
- Sunlight and sources of Vitamin D: While we can get vitamin D through foods like mushrooms, eggs yolks, salmon, and sardines, it is best absorbed when we get it directly from the sun. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of sun exposure one to three times per week.
- Bone broth/soup: This is not just an old-fashioned wives’ tale. Bone broth is supportive of the gut lining, which is where our immune system lives. By supporting your gut health, you are directly supporting your immune health. When you cook up a soup with vegetables and quality proteins that are rich in the nutrients we have discussed, you are creating an immune boosting meal that will keep you nourished and healthy.
What you put in your cart at the grocery store has the power to influence your health today, tomorrow, and long term. Protecting and building a strong immune system is a great way to keep you and your family safe during this time.
- “Think You’re Metabolically Healthy? Only 12% of Americans Fit the Bill.” Sweet, Joni, 6 Dec. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-does-it-mean-to-be-metabolically-healthy.
- “A Functional Medicine Approach to COVID-19.” Dr. Mark Hyman, 6 Apr. 2020, drhyman.com/blog/2020/04/01/a-functional-medicine-approach-to-covid-19/.