How to build a kicka** immune system!


Supporting your immune system is a lot like building the best sports team.

It's important to do your research about the players and learn exactly how they're going to support the success of your team.

The good news is that if you're short on time, I've got the research covered for you. I'm going to compile a ton of helpful resources in the coming paragraphs to help you build the most kicka** immune system you possibly can.

Now, before I get started, I want to make an important point.

A lot of people out there are preying on your fear and trying to sell you products to boost your immune system. I got an email from GNC (as I typed this blog post, NO JOKE) suggesting that a meal replacement shake can help support my immune system.

In my opinion, this is ridiculous. A meal replacement shake is the last thing we need. Unless you're trying to sell me fruits and vegetables, I have absolutely no desire to buy any such supplements.

Now, there may be vitamins and minerals in these supplements that have substantial amounts of research suggesting they help your immune function, but I would much rather you get these from whole food sources.

As a disclaimer, I am not a medical doctor and I do not work for the CDC. If you get any advice from either your personal physician or a document released by the CDC, please take these into account first.

However, if there's one thing I'm passionate about, it's education. I'm passionate about making it absolutely clear that what you do need to best support your immune system is:

  • A healthy mindset

  • A whole food diet

  • Daily movement

Let's break these down.

Develop a healthy mindset

On a second to second basis, your DNA is responding to three important things.

  • Thoughts

  • Movement

  • Food

These three things are determining which genes are being turned on and turned off in the body.

When it comes to developing a healthy mindset, we need to understand just how powerful our thoughts are.

Want to know something crazy about your brain? 88% of your brain cannot tell the difference between reality vs. what you tell it.

Do you know the main reason why I called my coaching business Strength in Mind? I believe so fiercely in the power of our thoughts, that I made sure my entire business embodied this notion. If we develop the strength in our mind, we can then develop strength in our body. If you're constantly living in fear and telling yourself you're going to get sick; that getting sick is inevitable... then most likely... you're right.

What you tell yourself on a daily basis is an integral part of building the strongest body you possibly can. You need to start revamping the dialogue in your head to work with you instead of against you. If you're a reader, an excellent quick read is a book called "What to Say When You Talk to Yourself" by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D.

This book has changed the way handfuls of my clients talk to themselves, myself included. Focus on a chapter every day and I guarantee you will start believing in yourself and all your amazing abilities.

Eat a healthy diet

I'll say this a million times: I do not take supplements.

Unless of course, I recognize where my diet is lacking (via blood test or personal understanding of nutritional deficiencies), and I supplement strategically.

My main point here is that I try to get everything my body needs from a well-balanced diet. Despite what supplement companies would like you to believe, this is absolutely possible.

However, in times like these, most of us are concerned about the supplements that will help us support our immune system.

The three main supplements we're going to focus on are:

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin D

  • Zinc

Vitamin C

This advice is more of myth-buster.

We've been told for years (since the 1970s when original studies by Linus Pauling were published) that in order to fight the duration of the common cold, we need incredibly high doses of vitamin C.

That's why we have seen companies like Emergen-C, as just one example, skyrocket due to their marketing toward reducing cold symptoms.

However, more recent evidence suggests that vitamin C does not reduce the duration of cold symptoms. The main reason they saw effects in the previous studies was because the subjects were incredibly vitamin C deficient.

Instead, it's important to have adequate amounts of vitamin C in your system on a regular basis from fruits and vegetables instead of macro-dosing. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes and tomatoes are great common sources of the vitamin.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is one of the most potent natural immune boosters known to man. If you're looking for more evidence on this, you can refer to this article on vitamin D's role in preventing respiratory infections and this article for even more benefits ranging from immune health to your mood. Our body naturally produces vitamin D when we get sun exposure on our skin. That's all it takes! Just because we're being told to stay at home right now, it doesn't mean that nature is off limits.

Have you ever been outside working, hiking, or playing all day in the sun and realize you sleep like a rock? As opposed to the rainy day you binge-watch Netflix for hours and sleep like poo?

That's because sunlight on our skin helps the body produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is a precursor to serotonin (our happy juice). 80% of the serotonin produced during the day is converted into melatonin (our sleepy juice).

I really can't say this enough: sleep is such an important way to support optimal immune function.

Since we're working from home right now, it's more important than ever to establish a routine. If you're inside on your computer all day, you can't get any natural vitamin D. I always recommend the natural source over a synthetic source.

Make it a habit to do one thing outside to break up your day. Anything you enjoy! Show as much skin as you feel comfortable (just don't get arrested, please).

Not only will this help your immune system, but it will also give you something to boost your mood (serotonin). We should take advantage of doing things we enjoy when we're forced to slow down like this. We need to keep an open mind and shift our thoughts toward things that are positive.

Do remember to be safe and respectful of those around you when you are outside.

Zinc

Most relevant to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been speculation that zinc may actually inhibit coronavirus replication.

While most of these claims are premature and require more research, zinc as a general supplement has been shown to have an important role in immune function.

When you are zinc deficient or have inadequate intake, it places you at higher risk for infection.

This site gives you more details about the importance of zinc in the body and this article discusses how supplementing with 75 mg/day of zinc can decrease cold duration (unlike vitamin C) by 33%.

As I mentioned above, I always recommend the natural sources of vitamins and minerals before supplementation.

Red meat and poultry will be the richest sources in the typical American diet, but you can also find zinc in various shellfish, fortified cereals, beans, and nuts.

I will also mention that chronic over-supplementation of zinc can eventually lead to adverse effects and lessen the immune response. This is an additional reason why the whole food sources are better than a large macro-dose in synthetic form.

Alcohol

Let's leave the diet discussion with one final thought. I've seen an abundance of memes about increased alcohol consumption since the start of the quarantine.

Believe me, I get it. We're cooped up with an increasing amount of stress - whether it's from our work, our kids, our spouse, whatever it may be.

By the way, let me remind you: stress is a result of our negative perception (thoughts... see above!) AND if you didn't know, it can be reduced with just a little bit of exercise.

Alcohol has been proven to inhibit the body's ability to fight off viral infections. See this site for more details. While it may be a temporary fix to ease your mind, it could actually be harming your immune system.

While I can't stop you from consuming alcohol, I can educate you so that you're more mindful about consumption.

Lastly, MOVE your body.

If you didn't know, our bone and muscle system requires regular use, especially since our lymphatic flow completely depends on regular muscle contraction to function. The lymph system is part of our immune system, helping defend against disease and sickness. Being able to move online with my training clients has been a game changer, as many of us might feel frustrated by the closures, but if we look at it in a positive way, it could be a blessing. If there was ever a good time to take care of ourselves and our family, this would be it. We often forget that we carry around the best gym we could ever ask for. "What do you mean, Alyssa? I can't carry my local gym around in my pocket." Your best gym is your own body.

The easiest places to use your body are in your own home and even out in nature. Just because we're being directed to practice social distancing, it doesn't take away the benefit of getting out in the woods and taking a hike. Simply walking is an amazing tool for anyone. Don't forget that! In addition to walking, you can practice calisthenics (a fancy word for using just your body and tempo or tension to build strength). A strong body is a healthy body. Therefore, I want to offer you a resistance workout you can perform if you choose to stay home from the gym.

If you're interested, click here to send me an email and I'll set you up with a free 30 day trial of my personal training app.

That's all I've got for now folks.

If you've made it this far... I just want to say thank you.

I appreciate you and hope this helped you. Should you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me any time (Instagram: adspaw)

To you and your family, I'm sending the biggest virtual hugs. Hang in there!