As a functional nutritional therapy practitioner, Inspiration Lab member Kristen Hobson provides holistic nutrition guidance and coaching to address the root cause of her clients’ issues, employing an approach that focuses on a whole food diet and positive lifestyle changes. Kristen knows there is no one-size-fits-all diet and that everybody is unique and deserves to thrive, so she strives to find the right path to optimal health for each person she works with. Below, Kristen shares her recommendations for boosting immune health while isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to COVID-19, we’re all stuck at home. We’ve all had to change our routines. We’d all love to go to the beach right now. But staying healthy is infinitely more important now than it was even six weeks ago. So instead of focusing on the things we CAN’T do, let’s focus on the things we CAN do. And one of the things we can do right now is build up our immunity with the basics.
1. Eat real, whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Embrace the #JERF (Just Eat Real Food) lifestyle.
Aim for six to nine cups of vegetables every day. I know that seems like a lot, but now that you’ve likely got a little more time on your hands, why not try cooking a veggie you’ve never had before? Or prepare your usual veggies in a new way to make them seem more exciting. The other day, I used a blade on my spiralizer I’d never used before. Instead of zucchini noodles, I made zucchini ribbons, which was so fun!
Eat the rainbow! Especially dark green leafy veggies.
Stock up on canned (good), frozen (better), and fresh (best) vegetables.
Get your carbs from starchy veggies!
Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, butternut squash, delicata squash, spaghetti squash, etc., are all good options.
Include 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup per meal.
Enjoy wild fish; pasture-raised chicken, turkey, and eggs; grass-fed/grass-finished beef and pork, etc.
At least one meal per day should include a clean protein, but ideally, all three meals do.
Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter/ghee, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, and high-quality animal fats such as tallow from grass-fed beef, duck fat, etc., are great choices.
1-2 tablespoons with each meal is reasonable.
Involve the Whole Family
Studies show that kiddos who help prepare a meal are more likely to want to eat the food they’re preparing — even if it’s broccoli!
Sugar - it suppresses important immune functions, which is not what we want during this pandemic.
Gluten - even if you’re not allergic (i.e., have celiac disease) or don’t have a formal gluten sensitivity, gluten is difficult for your body to digest. Since your digestive tract houses 80% of your immune system, anything that’s hard on your digestive tract suppresses your immunity.
Dairy - it can be very inflammatory and mucus-producing for most people. Two exceptions: butter and ghee from grass-fed cows. Why? They’re lower in inflammatory proteins and sugars.
Processed and refined foods - yes, they’re convenient, but that’s about it. They’re difficult to digest, provide empty calories (so you’re hungry again very soon), and contain tons of highly inflammatory oils, hidden sugars, preservatives, shelf-stabilizers, emulsifiers, coloring agents, and a whole host of other non-nutritive chemicals. Also, they’re devoid of any real nutrients. Any nutrients added to packaged foods are created in a lab, which means your body has a very difficult time processing them and most likely won’t absorb them. So that calcium and Vitamin D added to your Lucky Charms? Not really doing you any good.
Be aware of your alcohol consumption - I know, I know… but hear me out. One of the 500+ duties of your liver is to remove toxins and other harmful substances from your body. Drinking alcohol can lower your liver’s ability to do that effectively since it’ll also be trying to filter out the alcohol you just drank — which in turn lowers your immune system’s ability to function optimally. Alcohol also prevents your body from absorbing nutrients properly (if you’re eating all those good foods I listed above!). And it can increase anxiety, which doesn’t seem like something any of us need right now.
Does all this sound like a major overhaul from how you’ve been eating? If yes, what better time to reboot your diet than while quarantined at home away from tempting restaurants and donuts in the office? Being in charge of all your meals is a great opportunity to get healthier!
2. Get tons of sleep.
I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but get some sleep! It’s one of the best things you can do for your immune system. Most of us actually need more than we think we do. Take advantage of your lack of commute, or not having to take the kids to school, or not getting up to go to the gym, or whatever extra time you now have. Those Netflix shows will still be there in the morning — go to bed!
Stress suppresses your immune system, so do everything in your power to lower it!
Try mindfulness practices: daily meditation, deep breathing, yoga, taking a meditative walk in nature, writing down five things you are grateful for at the end of each day, etc.
Lock the bathroom door, put on your headphones, put your favorite essential oil into the diffuser, and take a hot bath.
Set boundaries for incoming information: only watch/listen to news sources that are reputable and not hysteria-inducing, and focus on practical things you can do to help others during this difficult time.
Every morning when you wake up, ask yourself, “What can I do today to make someone’s life a little brighter or easier?”
Call a friend who’s stuck at home alone.
Send a sweet email to a co-worker.
Create a silly video for your older family members or even FaceTime/Zoom chat with them.
Send a sweet card or flowers to a neighbor.
Buy gift certificates for local businesses/restaurants and send them to your friends.
4. Move every day.
You don’t need to do pushups every day or become super ripped, but you do need to get some movement. Exercise boosts your immune system!
Exercise at Home
There are tons of free fitness videos and programs online right now.
Find some free yoga. My little sister has been putting out free yoga videos every few days.
Fitness Blender has 500+ free workout videos.
The Nike Training Club app has made all their premium videos free until further notice.
YouTube never disappoints!
If you have the ability to maintain six feet of social distance, why not go for a walk, run, hike, or bike ride?
The fresh air, sunlight, and wind on your face is not only immune-boosting, but also stress-reducing.
Get Creative with the Kids
If you have a backyard, set up an obstacle course with all of the sports equipment and pool toys you have on hand.
Go retro and turn on the sprinklers!
5. Cultivate your social life while physically distancing.
Who haven’t you talked to in a while? I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.
FaceTime with your loved ones.
Chat with your neighbor from the sidewalk in front of her house.
Send a silly video to your family members.
Have a dance party with your friends on Zoom.
Participate in The Inspiration Lab’s online events!
And of course, don’t forget to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20+ seconds. All of the above is FREE and guaranteed to boost your immunity during this crazy time!
We can get through this! Stay home, stay connected, and stay positive!
I want to know — which of the suggestions above are you super-duper excited to try and which have you already done? Share in the comments below!