Immunity support goes beyond power loading the right supplements and pounding high-vibe foods. Staying strong during times of stress or health crises means taking immaculate care of our physical, emotional and mental health. Holistic Nutritionist and women’s wellness expert, Kristin Dahl, created this master list for immunity support to address our emotional, psychic and physical wellbeing…
We’re all feeling the effects of the current spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on some level. Though it’s imperative that we stay informed and aware, it’s equally imperative that we don’t inundate ourselves with a constant intake of media. Do what you can to take care of yourself and those closest to you, honoring any overwhelm or anxiety as it arises.
This is a powerful opportunity for all of us to take better care of ourselves. Engage in consistent self-care rituals and mindfulness practices to nourish the nervous system. Try to move through each day, one step at a time, calm, conscious and aware versus stressed, anxious and obsessed.
How To Bolster Physical, Emotional
And Mental Wellbeing
It’s true that washing your hands obsessively and properly is super important, as is avoiding contact with others if you feel unwell or have recently been traveling. It’s also essential that we look out for our elders and immunocompromised friends, and assist them in any way that we can at this time. Help them with their groceries or filling prescriptions so they can stay safely at home. Bring them nourishing foods, soups, stews and teas (more on this below!) to boost their immunity and protect them. Get in touch and offer your support.
Practice loving-kindness with those you come in contact with and reach out to friends and loved ones. We’re all feeling the weight and impact of this and need support right now.
A holistic approach is one that takes all facets of life into consideration and at a time like this, a well-rounded self-care routine must be implemented to prevent illness. To protect yourself from the coronavirus and to avoid spreading it to vulnerable members of our communities, here are several tools to bolster your immunity and keep you sane through the storm.
If you feel unwell, please seek medical attention.
Anxiety, Stress And Nervous System Support
Get grounded | Grounding ourselves is number one, as stress is one of the factors that affects our immunity the most. Excessive stress and anxiety impair our immune system’s ability to fight off infection. Stress management is essential for us all.
Reduce Screen Time / Excess Media + Social Media | It’s important to stay informed of updates and advisories, but unplugging is one of the first steps to finding peace. This will help to ease anxieties surrounding the current collective energy and support deeper, more restorative sleep as well.
Take Deep Breaths | Take 3 to 5 minutes out of every hour to practice deep breathing. Simply inhale deeply for a count of 7, hold for 2, then exhale slowly to the count of 7. Repeat the process 5 to 6 times. For deeper relaxation, add a couple of drops of pure lavender to your palms and breathe in its calming scent. (And if you can’t take full, deep breaths, contact your health care provider to get tested.)
Practice Micro-Meditations | Take micro-moments of mindfulness throughout the day — a few minutes to take some deep breaths, a short 15-minute meditation, or a mindfulness walk around the block. This will create more serenity and clarity throughout your day.
Follow Guided Meditations | I love these Tara Brach meditations (also on Spotify) with calming music and binaural beats for stress support/grounding. This Yoga Nidra Practice is also helpful, and there are many other free yoga nidra and guided meditations on Spotify.
Honor Surrender + Letting Go | Potent and powerful tools for us all to integrate on the daily are to accept all that we can’t control, to let go into the present moment and to surrender to what’s happening. All we can do is move one step, one day at a time.
Lifestyle Immune System Support
Do Daily Movement | Exercise helps support the lungs and prevent upper respiratory infections. Take daily walks, hike, dance, go on light jogs, practice yoga and stretching, or work out in your living room. Get that lymph moving and those endorphins pumping!
Support Your Lymph | Besides exercise, other ways to get your lymph moving include self-massage, jumping on a rebounder, hot and cold contrast showers, dry skin brushing, mustard baths and magnesium flake baths. Supporting your lymph protects your body from infection and disease.
Get Enough Sleep | Your immune system needs rest to keep you healthy. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and unplug and unwind at least a few hours before bed with your personal bedtime ritual.
Spend Time In Nature | Aligning ourselves with the rhythm of nature is a powerful way to integrate a natural ebb and flow into our lives and find deeper serenity within. This could look like taking a hike or walk in the woods, or simply finding a park nearby to unwind. It’s also lovely if your neighborhood is suitable to simply walk around the block a few times, connecting to the sites and sounds and taking in a bit of fresh air.
Everyday Nourishment And Superfoods To Bolster Immunity
Eating a nutrient-rich diet full of whole foods including plenty of fruits, vegetables and superfoods is a great way to keep your immune system strong all year round, and it’s especially important now. Adequate intake of vitamins, micronutrients and minerals will keep your immune system functioning optimally.
Staying hydrated is also key. Drink plenty of water each day. Aim for ½ your body weight in ounces.
Nourish yourself with ample amounts of fresh produce, leafy greens and plenty of vitamin C-rich foods. Avoid sugar, alcohol, excessive caffeine and dairy. My 21-Day Guided Cleanse Program is so helpful for this — it’s a supportive program that helps you transform your diet and get on the right track. We focus on nourishment, gut support and immune boosting. Cutting out sugar and alcohol is top priority as both directly impair immune function. The program gives you the tools and education you need to integrate dietary changes into your life.
Here are basic tips to follow for an immune-supportive diet and everyday nourishment:
Eat The Rainbow | Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables is a way to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Fill your plate with as many different colors as you can at each meal!
Remember To Reduce + Eliminate | Alcohol, processed foods, fried foods, burned or charred foods, excess caffeine (which increases anxiety/nervous system stress) and excess sugar should all be reduced or eliminated completely. These foods tend to contribute to inflammation, decrease immunity and feed the flu. Dairy products are mucus forming and may compromise lung health.
Load Up | On soups, stews, broths, buddha bowls, herbal teas, elixirs and lots of grounding/warming foods.
Important superfoods to include in your diet right now:
Natural immune boosters + antivirals | Garlic, ginger, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, raw organic honey and propolis.
Vitamin C-Rich Foods | Lemons, oranges, bell peppers, kiwis, parsley, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Soups | Chicken soup, kitchari, curries and soups. These can be comforting, nourishing and immune-boosting at this time. This immunity soup is also a lovely option.
Fresh herbs | Parsley and cilantro are loaded with chlorophyll and vitamins. Add them to salads, soups, smoothies, juices, dips and sauces.
Dark leafy greens & chlorophyll-rich foods | Collards, Swiss chard, spinach, sprouts, parsley and watercress.
Probiotic + Ferments | Remember, 30-60% of our immune system lives in our gut. Load up on sauerkraut, miso, kefir, kimchi, coconut yogurt and low-sugar kombucha.
Immune-boosting culinary herbs | Thyme, sage, rosemary and oregano. These all support immunity through antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral actions. Add them to soups, stews and herbal steams.
Vitamin A-rich foods | Liver, fatty fish like salmon, cod liver oil, kale, sweet potatoes, squash, collards, carrots, Swiss chard, spinach, romaine, papaya and grapefruit.
Vitamin E-rich foods | Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and green leafy vegetables.
Zinc-rich foods | Seafood, legumes, whole grains, seeds and eggs.
Green tea | It’s packed with flavonoids, a type of powerful antioxidant.
Ginger | I’ve been drinking fresh ginger tea daily. Ginger is antiviral, anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. You can make this recipe and use it as a concentrate or make a fresh batch daily. It tends to last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
Fresh Ginger Tea
1 large knob/bunch of ginger (rinsed thoroughly)
Let water cool slightly, add ginger and hot water to the blender. Blend on low and then high (being cautious of the warmth/lid) until completely combined. Strain into a mason jar and dilute with water as much as you would like and enjoy. Note: I let it cool and then store in the fridge. The concentration stays fresh for a few days. You can drink as a tea and add ½ a lemon and a small amount of raw honey, and/or add to meals such as soups and stews.
Supportive Herbs To Boost Immune System
Herbs can help to increase your body’s resilience and enhance your ability to fight off infections. And remember, it’s best to work directly with a holistic practitioner for individualized support.
Immune-supportive herbs help to prevent, fight, and clear illness while building, restoring, and nourishing immunity. Some herbs work as surface immune stimulants while others act as deep immunomodulators. At a time like this, we want to be working with a mix of both (or whatever you have on hand) to bolster immune defense. Powerful antivirals & antimicrobials such as goldenseal, oregano oil & olive leaf are best taken if/once you become sick and only until well again.
Immune-Boosting Herbs + Anti-Virals | Best in tincture or capsule form
Astragalus, echinacea, rhodiola + elderberry | Potent defenders that build immune system resiliency, build immune cells, and prevent and defend against viral infections. Herb Pharm has some incredible formulas.
Immune-Boosting Mushrooms | Best in powder, tincture or capsule form.
Reishi, chaga, cordyceps + turkey tail | Medicinal mushrooms help build blood cells and are antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral in nature. Four Sigmatic is great, as is anything from Host Defense and Thorne Research’s Myco-Immune.
Nervous System Grounding + Calming Herbs | Supportive to the entire system as well, especially Holy Basil and lemon balm. Best as loose leaf teas and tinctures. Chamomile, passionflower, Holy Basil, lemon balm & skullcap to help to calm the nerves, soothe anxiety and support restful sleep. Mountain Rose Herbs has some great options. Check out your local coop for loose leaf herbs and Herb Pharm for tinctures.
Immune Supportive Supplements
These supplement recommendations are temporary and are to be used for actively fighting off viruses, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. These are not recommendations for long-term dosing.
Probiotics | Support gut health and immunity. Take 50 billion per day.
Vitamin C | May alleviate or prevent infections caused by bacteria and viruses – take 1,000-2,000 mg per day (depending on bowel tolerance – aka diarrhea, if you take too much) – best to break up doses into 500 mg throughout the day
Vitamin D | 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight daily. Protects against acute respiratory infections including colds and flu depending on your current state of immune health/age/sun exposure. Take 2,000-10,000 IU per day.
Zinc | Helps to prevent and fight infections. Take 20-30mg per day. Note: May cause some nausea, be sure to take with food.
Omegas | Aid immune response to infections. Take 1-2 caps per day or cod liver oil (omegas + Vitamins D and A) 1-2 tsp per day.
NAC | An amino acid that supports glutathione production (the master detoxifier). Especially helpful for breaking up mucus, supporting the liver, lungs and respiratory system while lowering inflammation.
Nervous System Supportive Supplements
Magnesium | Calms the nerves and supports restful sleep. Take 300-400mg at bedtime (depending on personal bowel tolerance).
L-theanine | Calms anxiety, boosts immunity and supports a restful night sleep. Can be taken during the day (100-200mg) andd in the evening for sleep support (200-400 mg). Note: Take max 600 mg dose per day.
It’s best to work directly with a holistic practitioner for direction on dosing and what herbs and supplements may be best for you.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.