With all eyes on our immune health as we battle the novel coronavirus pandemic, an often-overlooked but essential strategy is to identify those things that are taxing your immune system and systematically removing them. 

Why? Well think of it this way: if you’re tired and overworked, and then your boss plops a big new project on your desk, how capable are you of doing a fabulous job on that new project? Not very. 

The same goes for your immune system. If it’s already chronically engaged in low-level battles all day long, how well is it equipped to fight a big new battle like the coronavirus? Not very. 

One of the most important things we can do right now is identify the things in our life that are engaging that immune system, and systematically removing or reducing these stressors. This is a core strategy I use with all clients – whether we’re thinking of prepping for exposure to a gnarly virus or working to bring an Autoimmune disease into remission. 

Here are five things you can do right now to remove the burden on your immune system so that, should you be exposed to the coronavirus (or any other immune assault), it has the capacity to handle this new situation.

1. Cut sugar from your diet.

I know, I know. This is the last thing you want to hear right now. Especially since it can feel so good to drown out all the stress and uncertainty in a box of cookies. And clearly, given the rush on twinkies and ho-ho’s this is a strategy many are following. But for so many reasons we want to do the opposite.

For one, sugar promotes low-grade chronic inflammation ¹ , ²  And inflammation, by definition, is engagement of the immune system.³ For another, sugar temporarily suppresses an important aspect of the immune systems: the phagocytic activity of macrophages. 4 What this means is that sugar temporarily stops a key component of your immune system from doing its job. Specifically the macrophages, or “big eaters”, aren’t able to phagocytize, or “eat up” bacteria and other debris.

If there’s ever been a time when we want our immune system at full capacity, it’s now. We’ve cleared our house of any sweet treats to remove temptation, and recommend you do the same.

If this leaves a void and you’re feeling extra raw emotionally, a resource we’ve been leaning on heavily is the brilliant work by Dr. Joan Rosenburg, 90 Seconds to a Life You Love

2. Eat loads of veggies.

Now is the time to eat the rainbow. Packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, veggies are essential to supporting the immune system and will help it do its work better. Strive for 2-3 cups of veggies per meal, and eat as many colors as you can find. Depending on where you live, veggies are typically still readily available in grocery stores.

This strategy has a two-fold effect: veggies are highly anti-inflammatory, and if you eat them in sufficient volume, they will displace other, pro-inflammatory foods in the diet.

3. Eat gut-healing foods.

Did you know that your gut health is intimately connected to your immune health? Approximately 80% of your immune system lives in and around your digestive tract. This means that any digestive dysfunction is going to be a stressor on that immune system.

If you don’t have the resources to do a full gut healing protocol  right now, you can still be proactive and regularly consume gut healing foods such as ferments and bone broth.  

Finding these items too expensive while you’re on a budget? No problem – make your own! You can make kombucha, sauerkraut and bone broth – all gut healing superstars – for pennies vs the high ticket price you’ll pay at the store. It’s also a great project for the kids while you’re at home!

4. Reduce intake of most inflammatory foods

Alongside sugar, remove the most inflammatory foods from your diet. While the best way to figure out which of these are the most relevant for you is proper food sensitivity testing, in the absence of testing, start with the most common food sensitivities: gluten, dairy, and soy. If you think about how many times a day you’re eating these foods, and how each consumption of those foods can trigger the immune system, then you can quickly see how removing these foods alongside sugar will remove a significant burden on your immune system.

5. Use this time to cook!

Most of us are spending unprecedented time at home right now, and one of the best things we can do for our health is to use some of this time to prepare home-cooked meals. Clients of mine who are mid-protocol right now are finding it easier than ever to comply with weird food lists for the very fact that they have full control over what they’re eating, and aren’t tempted by restaurant meals or social engagements that would pull them off course. 

We can all use this time to build some new, healthier routines and habits that will serve us long after this pandemic is over. If you have kids at home with you, involve them! This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them invaluable life skills and make creative use of the time at home together.

Need a starting point?

Click here to access our 7 day meal plan along with a grocery list and our family favorite staple recipes. Simply sign up for our Essentials list and you’ll also receive the meal plan with recipes.

¹ [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986486/]
² [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16904534]
³ [https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423]
4 [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29996768]

How are you using your time at home to support your health? Tell us in the comments below. 

If you found any of this article helpful, please share with someone you think could benefit.

The information provided in this post is based on the opinions of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their health care provider. Margaret is neither a doctor, lawyer, psychiatrist, or therapist.

We encourage you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information in this post should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information in this post is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

NO information in this post should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.

By reading this post, you acknowledge that you are responsible for your own health decisions. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.

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