Concerned about COVID-19? Follow these guidelines to help strengthen your immune system for better protection.
Fitness and nutrition expert Jim Stoppani recently published a new blog with 10 steps for helping to boost your immune system during this trying time.
Dr. Stoppani also included 10 vital steps to help boost your system. Here’s just a brief recap of what he wrote.
You can read the full blog post at jimstoppani.com/health/10-steps-to-boosting-your-immune-system
Wash your hands frequently
The simplest, most effective way to get yourself healthy is to wash your hands frequently.
“Any time you get home after going somewhere, wash your hands. When you’re in public, wash your hands every chance you get. After the gym, wash your hands. After interacting and/or touching another person, wash your hands.”
Follow the 30/60 Rule
This one is simple: for every 30 minutes you spend sitting, get up and do at least 60 seconds of physical activity.
“Doing these intermittent bouts of exercise throughout the day will help keep your immune system strong and fend off infection and disease.”
Get plenty of sleep
The general recommendation for sleep is to get around 8 hours a night. Not everybody can get that but the goal should be somewhere between 5-7 hours.
“Sleep is also absolutely critical for an optimally functioning immune system.”
Practice meditation and mindfulness
During stressful times like this, worrying about your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Try to find the time—even if its just a few minutes per day—for some form of mindfulness practice. This could be a meditation app on your phone, yoga, quiet/peaceful time, however, you want to go about it. Just do it.
“Meditation and mindfulness are going to enhance your workout, reduce your stress, and lead to better immune function.”
Utilize Intermittent Fasting
For those unaware, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a nutritional strategy where you go for an extended period of time with no food and no calories. Common strategies are 24-hour fasts once or twice a week, a 48-hour fast less frequently, and a 16 to18-hour fast, followed by a 6 to 8-hour feeding window (16-8 or 18-6), on a daily basis.
“Research has shown that IF can benefit health in a number of ways, including immunity. One study looked at a Ramadan-style fast of 14 hours a day and found that, after 30 days, subjects’ bodies better metabolized glucose, stored less fat, burned more fat, and improved insulin sensitivity. The scientists also found that subjects’ immune systems were enhanced.”
Eat ample protein
This one is simple. Your immune system is a system of proteins including ones that carry oxygen throughout the body. It’s essential your body has enough protein to remain healthy.
“Protein intake is especially important for those train with weights, because the immune system needs those amino acids to rebuild itself, and so do the muscles.”
Consume fast carbs post-workout
Post-workout carbs decrease immunosuppression that comes from a difficult workout. Cortisol, in particular, is a major stress hormone and when you have an intense workout, you stress the body, which makes cortisol rise and immune function go down. You’ll need to combat that and post-workout fast carbs at the way to do it.
“I recommend a slow-digesting carb before workouts, like an apple or other low-glycemic carb source. After training, get in somewhere between 30-60 grams of fast-digesting carbs—either via Post JYM Fast Carbs or dextrose-containing candy like gummy bears or Pixy Stix. And, of course, don’t forget the Post JYM Recovery Matrix.”
Get your omega-3 fats
Fats got a bad rap in the nutrition world for many years but today we are well aware of the many benefits healthy fats present. Specifically, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have positive effects on the immune system.
“For overall fat consumption, I recommend getting an equal ratio (1:1:1) of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats. Where the beneficial polyunsaturated omega-3s are concerned, salmon and other fatty fishes are great sources to include in your diet.”
Mind your micronutrients
We talked about macronutrients (proteins, carbs & fats) earlier but it’s time to talk about those micros. Vitamin A, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folic acid (folate), copper, iron, selenium, and zinc are all vital micronutrients that, if at a deficit, can have a negative effect on your immune system.
“Zinc and selenium, for example, tend to be quite low in athletes and others who train intensely. If you’re not getting adequate amounts in your diet, and then you’re losing these two minerals due to training, there’s a good chance your immune system will be compromised.”
Go with glutamine
Glutamine is one of the highest-level amino acids in the body, and it’s a critical energy component of the immune system.
After an intense workout, your body and your immune system look for glutamine. It usually finds it in your muscles. The problem with that is your muscle endurance drops and muscle protein synthesis is compromised when glutamine levels are low. Not ideal.
“Now, during the cold and flu season (and yes, coronavirus season), you may want to consider additional 3-5-gram doses of glutamine—up to four doses per day. Good times to take glutamine, other than post-workout, including first thing in the morning and before bedtime.”