We thought it would be encouraging to check-in with one of our RISE Expert Faculty, Dr. Mark Hyman and glean a few of his favorite ways to strengthen and fortify our health for the journey ahead.
“We have to protect ourselves, our families, and communities. Above all, we have to stay healthy. Here are a few things I've been focusing on over the last few weeks to support my immunity:
1. A whole-foods, nutrient-dense diet.
Our immune system relies on nutrient-dense whole foods to function well. Vegetables are the foundation of a nourishing diet, and they provide so many immune-supporting nutrients like vitamin C (red bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach) and carotenoids (carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale). Aim for two servings of fruits and eight or more servings of vegetables a day! (A serving is half a cup.)
Berries, pasture-raised meats, and nuts and seeds are also nutritional powerhouses that will hold up great in the freezer, so you can stay stocked without going out.
2. Cut out sugars and refined starches.
There has never been a better time for a sugar and junk food detox. I practice my own 10-day reset several times a year to renew my body and feel great.
Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingesting. Limiting starch and sugar will help your immune system function better, and your overall health improves. I'm also limiting caffeine and alcohol right now, too, to really protect my system.
3. Fermented foods to support the microbiome.
The gut plays an essential role in our immunity and acts as a barrier against many types of pathogens. Eat sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, miso, tempeh, unsweetened grass-fed yogurt, and kefir to support diverse and abundant bacterial populations that will keep your microbiome healthy. These foods also keep well in the fridge.
4. Fluids, especially warmer fluids.
Consuming adequate fluids supports all your body's functions including the immune system. I've been making a lot of bone broth, soups, and stews—which is also a great way not to let anything in the kitchen go to waste.
Drink herbal teas like ginger and turmeric tea. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages, as the sugar content is harmful to the immune system.
5. Sufficient sleep.
We all know sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier, aiming for seven to eight hours a night (which is hopefully easier now that most of us are at home during the day).
Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help with stress and allowing the mind to rest is also very helpful!
6. Regular exercise.
Mild to moderate exercise helps support the immune system. Avoid overexertion such as training for endurance events when you are feeling run-down. This will lower your immune defenses.
If you are able to exercise outside in less populated areas, great. If not, find workouts online; I've been making sure I do something active every day even while I'm staying home.
7. Relaxation practices.
The data are clear: Increased levels of stress increase susceptibility to viral infections. Now is the time to learn meditation, double down on your practice, do yoga, take hot baths, do deep breathing, practice home massage with your loved ones, and more.
I'm really passionate about my meditation practice, but lately even more so. I find taking a break from all the news (twice a day) and just focusing on my body and breath has been incredibly useful in helping manage stress and anxiety during this time.”
We know there's so much to take in right now, but it’s our hope that you will use this time to be kind to yourself and those around you. We pray that integrating a few of these trusted tips from Dr. Hyman will provide lift to your spirit and a practical means to strengthen your health.
To learn more from Dr. Mark Hyman, check out www.drhyman.com and make sure to tune into his leading health podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy.