This series on Women’s Health is brought to you by Tryon Medical Partners, an independent practice of nearly 90 physicians who joined forces because they share the core belief that the patient-doctor connection is the foundation for better health.
As our communities come together to prevent the spread of coronavirus, we have continued to share the top two things you can do to keep yourself and others healthy:
- Wash your hands – Spend at least 20 seconds giving them a good scrub.
- Stay home – Social distancing is a trending hashtag for a reason and helps us flatten the curve.
Not touching your face and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are other efforts that top the list shared in our coronavirus FAQs.
If you have these practiced and down to a science in your home, you may be looking for additional ways to stay healthy. There are ways to boost your immune system that are good practice for everyday life, not just during these stressful times. Here are five things you can do to keep your body well:
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a key indicator of your overall health and well-being. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol to keep you awake and alert. These can suppress your immune system.
How much sleep you need varies, but there are recommendations depending on your age:
- 18-25 years of age: 6-11 hours per night can be appropriate, with 7-9 hours recommended
- 26-64 years of age: 6-10 hours per night can be appropriate, with 7-9 hours recommended
- 65+ years of age: 5-9 hours per night can be appropriate, with 7-8 hours recommended
Quality sleep takes effort and a routine and there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep hygiene. If even those efforts are not paying off, it may be time to understand if there are underlying factors by consulting a board-certified sleep medicine physician.
If you read Scoop, chances are you like to exercise but, even if you don’t, moderate exercise can help your body’s antibodies and white blood cells. Experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week, but you can get creative with your routine (think getting behind a push lawnmower this spring). Exercise also lowers stress hormones that can suppress your immune system.
Maintaining a balanced diet is important for more than just weight loss. A healthy diet keeps your entire body functioning the way it should. Talking with your primary care physician can help highlight areas of improvement in your diet. They can also make sure you’re choosing the best supplements to make up for anything lacking in your regimen, while also making sure nothing interferes with medication you may be taking.
Here are a few immune-boosting options to incorporate into your diet:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale and collards are a source of Vitamin A, an immune-booster, antioxidant and promoter of cell growth. You can also find Vitamin A in red peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots.
- Love potatoes but typically avoid the carbs? Here’s a great excuse to add them back to your diet – they contain immune-boosting Vitamin C. So do tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi and, the standby, orange juice.
- Vitamin D doesn’t just help you absorb calcium – it can also boost the immune system. Get your intake by eating mushrooms, oatmeal and egg yolks, drinking cow or soy milk and making sure you’re incorporating fatty fish like salmon and tuna in your diet.
Staying hydrated and drinking lots of water is always good for staying healthy. Water helps all of your body’s systems run better, and that includes your immune system. Water helps flush toxins, oxygenates your blood, carries white blood cells throughout the body and circulates nutrients.
As we all try to conform to a “new normal” of social distancing, working from home and having children home from school, anxiety inevitably creeps in. Stress can wreak havoc on our immune systems, making it important to be mindful of opportunities to decompress. Whether you’re turning up some tunes or pulling out the board games be sure to focus on what you can do to stay positive. That activity that seems solitary, like reading a book or doing a puzzle, can happen outside where you can boost Vitamin D which, in turn, boosts your immunity.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disengaged. Catch up with that friend you’ve been meaning to call or change your weekly in-person coffee dates to FaceTime to keep up with those who keep you positive.
In a time where we’re all focused on what we can do to stay well, try adopting these five suggestions now so that when regular life resumes, they’ve become habits of your daily life.
Tryon Medical Partners is dedicated to taking all precautions to keep patients safe. So, if you or a loved one is feeling sick, there are virtual visits and remote testing options available. Even if you aren’t feeling sick, maintaining your regular doctor’s appointments is another way to stay well.