There is no more frequent question that I am being asked this fall than the issue of building immunity and preventing infection with the H1N1 virus.
My approach to this issue has been the recommendation to patients to check in with themselves about their own personal health. Time for a reality check! Is your health the best that it has ever been? If it is not, now is the time to really focus your energy on your personal health goals get your health the best that it can be. Being healthy will not happen with a counter full of products that you take every day. Being healthy is so much more complex than that! Vitamins and herbs are wonderfully helpful and really terrific tools for us to use but I am willing to bet that each and every one of you knows where you can improve. Could you eat better? Could you sleep more? Could you reduce your stress? In order for our immune defenses to be working at their best there are several very simple principles we need to follow.
1. Seriously make the commitment to be well. Make the time in your busy schedule to eat well, sleep and exercise. These are the pillars of health and need to be a priority in healthy living.
2. Nutrition. This is common sence but rarely do I see people accomplishing an adequate, nutrient dense healthy diet without coaching through the clinic. Take time to plan meals, shop for quality ingredients and cook your own meals! Eat breakfast – you will feel more energized and able to put more effort and focus into your day if you eat breakfast. Fast food is not healthy food. Meals cooked from whole, fresh ingredients are becoming less common. A live food is one which is fresh and which still contains all the nutrients which were in it while it was growing. Eg. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole foods are foods which are unprocessed, unaltered and still in nature’s own packaging. Eg: nuts, seeds, grains, legumes. Incorporating more of these whole foods into the diet means increasing your immunity. Keep non nutrients out of your diet. Instead of pizza or fried foods or high sugar foods for lunch go for homemade soup in a thermos or leftovers from supper last night. Sugar can actually supress the immune system for as long as five hours and allows bacteria and viruses to have their opportunity to flourish. Avoid sweets or high sugar foods when you are sick.
3. Exercise! Regular exercise is important because it enourages movement of the lymphatic system of the body and allows the movement of lymph to increase immune factors. Exercise also regulates cortisol levels, a bi-product of stress and allows for normal functioning of the immune system. Going for a walk at lunch time is not only a way to keep you productive and alert all afternoon, but it also increases the activity of your immune system. Another advantage of exercising is the fresh air and sunshine that we absorb while exercising outside. A 30 minute walk a day is a good start. Make exercise one of your health goals.
4. Sleep and Rest. In our culture of fast-paced buysiness sleep seems to be an irritating interruption in our to-do lists. We exhaust ourselves to the point where our immunity is lowered. In fact, sleep is increadibly healing – the repair, renewal and growth of cells – actually speed up when we sleep. While relaxed and sleeping the body produces tools it needs to fight infection and to repair damage to the body. Immune system activity actually increases during sleep. So get your 8 hrs of sleep each night and if you feel a cold or flu coming on go to bed and get some rest! Beyond sleep, simple resting is healthy. Allowing our body and our mind the time and space it needs to recharge is very healthy. Reducing the amount of stress that we experience over time will increase your vitality, will decrease your levels of cortisol, will help you lose weight, look and feel younger, give you more energy, help you feel more positive. There is absolutely not one aspect of your health and wellness that will not be positively affected by slowing down, by listening to your body and by taking the time to rest, relax and recharge.
If you do get sick or you feel you need guidance with any of these principles call the clinic! We will help with your symptoms, we can help you optimize your health and feel that your immune system is the strongest that it’s been. Living with vitality will help us feel confident in our bodies ability to heal itself and we will not live with fear when facing a cultural health crisis like H1N1.
This living vitally is a core philosophy at Barefoot Health and is one reason why we say: Live Barefoot! Be Healthy!
Written by Lisa Doran, Fall 2009