8 ways to optimize your immunity and protect your health.
Basic health and fitness habits can help. Use these proven strategies to master them.
By Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD and Lee Helland, MA
Let’s start with the hard truth.
You can’t fully control whether you catch a cold, the flu, or COVID-19.
You also can’t control how your body will react once it’s exposed to a pathogen.
There are many different factors that determine your body’s response. Some you can impact, like nutrient deficiencies. Others you can’t do anything about, like your age.
But even among the factors you can influence, no single tweak or “hack” can control such a complex system.
No magical supplement, superfood, diet plan, or exercise routine can ensure you’ll stay healthy.
There is good news, though: When it comes to your immune system, your daily actions can make a meaningful difference.
By consistently practicing healthy behaviors, you can:
- reduce your exposure and susceptibility
- help optimize your immune function over time
- better prepare your body to fight off foreign invaders
Plus, focusing on constructive behaviors might help you feel just a little bit more in control. And that could help ease the anxiety and stress that come with all the uncertainty.
Our suggestion: Prioritize the “big rocks,” or pillars, of a healthy lifestyle.
- Eat mostly minimally-processed whole foods
- Get enough protein, fruits, and vegetables
- Consume an appropriate number of calories (to avoid or lose excess body fat)
- Move regularly
- Reduce smoking and/or excessive alcohol consumption
- Get adequate sleep
- Manage stress
With all this in mind, we’ve created this immunity-focused infographic to give you a game plan for taking action.
Importantly, you don’t need to do everything we suggest in this infographic.
Eating protein at every meal is hard enough on its own, and your grocery store might be sold out of the kind you like right now. (You might also have less money for groceries than before.)
Some people have way less time to work out than they used to, since they’re busy homeschooling or working double shifts. Others have MUCH higher stress levels than before.
So pick and choose the strategies that make the most sense and feel doable to you right now. You can always incorporate others later.
And remember: There’s nothing wrong with starting small. That’s where great progress often begins.