With cold and flu season on its way, many of us are focused on staying healthy. To make matters more complicated, there is a pandemic occurring. While trying to boost our immune systems, we also have to consider the ways we are accidentally draining it.
To avoid zeroing out our efforts, Rand McClain, DO and Chief Medical Officer of Live Cell Research Health, shares some of the factors we should avoid in order to keep our immune system healthy.
While usually thought of as a key to staying healthy, overdoing exercise can have an adverse effect on the body.
“A lot of people have really gotten into fitness during COVID, which is great since we know that obesity puts you at higher risk for complications with this particular virus and creates other health problems in general,” he explains. “But there can be too much of a good thing. Overtraining weakens, not strengthens, the immune system.”
According to a study from the UK, moderate intensity aerobic exercise helps you fight off viruses, which is especially helpful at the moment. Activities that fit into this category are walking, running, and cycling. Try to do one of these for around 30 minutes a day.
Another thing we shouldn’t overdo is snacking. “People have been preparing more meals at home, which can be healthier than eating out, but spending more time at home can also lead to non-stop snacking throughout the day because you have easy access to the pantry and fridge.”
During stressful times, it’s easy to turn to comfort food. To help fight the damage snacking can do, fill your pantry with healthy snacks.
McClain adds that it’s not just excess flab that can cause problems. “Even being a muscular and lean ‘overweight’ can increase one’s risk of complications from COVID-19 as that ‘extra’ weight creates a metabolic demand and can overwhelm an otherwise healthy immune system.” Another reason to be conscious while working out.
Though we know sleep is always important to living a healthy life, it’s specifically important right now—for a couple of reasons.
“[Not getting enough sleep] can significantly reduce your sensitivity to insulin and, because you simply feel tired, it can cause you to eat unhealthy foods and consume more sugar and caffeine to try and energize yourself throughout the day,” he explains. Lack of sleep can also cause chronic inflammation that McClain says is like a “immune system traffic jam.”
Having problems falling asleep? You can try drinking tea and avoiding late-night scrolling.
Remember, your immune system is not just important during flu season. These tips are helpful all year round, whether there’s a pandemic or not!
Article originally posted by Jess Catcher at First For Women.