Ok, so it’s no secret we have been dealing with Covid for nearly two years now but let us not forget about the classic Cold and Flu. With every Cold and Flu season society scrambles to enhance their health and immunity. This has been put into hyperdrive since Covid. The immune system is a massive complicated system that requires balance and consistency throughout to run optimally. How do we run optimally? Well, below are the 5 Pillars for Overall Health that can help ensure you stay in good standing all year round.
Nutrition Plan- Health begins and ends with your nutrition intake or what I like to call your “nutrition plan”. Nutrition plays an immense role in building up your antibodies to fight illness. Notice that I didn’t use the term “diet”. I am adamant about “nutrition plan” because a “diet” is generally short-term oriented, and oftentimes tends to have a negative connotation behind it. A nutrition plan, however, is the food and beverage system that fuels our body over the long haul. Thus, making it a habit to eat well and doing so consistently will help fuel our bodies to run optimally. Sure, we all have our days where we may overindulge, especially around the holidays or Super Bowl parties, events, etc. but let us not forget the key to consistent proper nutrition intake… View food as fuel. Eat to fuel your body, not to full your body. In other words, eating until we are stuffed and unable to eat a single bite more is ultimately a detriment to our well-being. However, if we focus on taking in the number of calories needed for our bodies to function, we will be doing ourselves a favor. Many of us are likely to be deficient when it comes to vegetable intake. With that in mind, making it a priority to add heaping helpings of vegetables and fruits that consist of a wide arrangement of colors to our nutrition plans is key to peak performance. Immune-boosting foods like citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.), ginger, cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc.), and fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, Kombucha) hit the full spectrum of nutrients. The options for satisfactory fueling are limitless, it’s merely about finding what works best for you and your preferences.
Stress- Being stressed for long periods of time can be detrimental to our health, as it can increase levels of cortisol in our bodies. Increased levels of cortisol lead to a plethora of health risks, such as high blood pressure, weight gain, anxiety, and even depression. We can choose from a variety of stress-minimizing techniques, such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation. If you are unfamiliar with any of these methods, a quick search on Google will provide guidance on these techniques. There are also a variety of smartphone apps at our disposal. Psychological stress increases our susceptibility to illness. Protect yourself by making stress reduction a priority in your day-to-day life.
Movement – Speaking of stress, exercise, and movement help to lower cortisol and adrenaline, which are high states of stress for your body. Being physically active helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases that could further weaken your immune system, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Physical activity of any kind helps to flush bacteria from the lungs and enhance blood flow throughout the circulatory system. The term “exercise” is wide-ranging. Exercise can consist of bodyweight training, resistance training, walking, running, biking, playing sports, yoga, swimming, hiking, stretching, the list goes on and on. Why did I make that distinction? Because some of us may conjure up pictures in our mind of exercise consisting of heavy bench presses, squats, running sprints, etc. And while that may work for a subsection of the population, such activities may be a turn-off to others. Which is a-ok. Movement and minimizing our time of being sedentary by performing any of the aforementioned activities is advantageous for all.
Supplementation- Supplements, such as vitamin capsules and nutrients in powder form are simple, yet effective ways to fill in nutritional gaps. They should not be viewed as permanent replacements for your daily nutrition plan, though they certainly can be helpful for those of us lacking efficient vitamins and mineral levels or those who may not be absorbing nutrients fully from their food. Key vitamins and minerals to supplement are: Vitamin A, B6, C, D, E, and Fish Oil. Additionally, the likes of Zinc, Whey Protein, Turmeric (Curcumin), and my personal favorite, Creatine, are all boosts our bodies could benefit from.
Sleep- Catch some Z’s! Research shows that a lack of sleep can leave you more susceptible to getting sick after being exposed to a virus. The same can be said for recovering once you are sick. While we are sleeping, proteins, known as cytokines are released by our immune system. Lack of sleep has been shown to decrease the production of these cytokines. Without adequate sleep, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced making it more likely we will succumb to whatever virus may be going around. Additionally, for those who are looking to build muscle and burn fat, inadequate sleep will hinder both. I mentioned supplements a moment ago, look into high-quality Melatonin to help you fall asleep during times of tossing and turning. Lastly, minimize screen time (phone, TV, computer, tablet, etc.) during the evenings so your mind can begin to wind down and prepare for sleep.
There you have it… The 5 pillars of health! Take this information and enact at least a few of these into your day-to-day routine. If you have some questions or need some clarification on any of the above information, hit me up: email@example.com