Written by Christine Beal Dunst and Stephanie Rapp
Today we’re honored to introduce guest bloggers Christine Beal Dunst and Stephanie Rapp, the dynamic duo behind Embody Wellness Company. They are board certified holistic health and lifestyle coaches who are excited to share their knowledge about how to boost your immune system. We’ll let them take it from here...
During these unprecedented and surreal times, building your immunity is more important than ever. Our goal is to help you EMBODY Your Best Self, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Below are our top immunity boosting tips to help you and your family stay strong, healthy, and resilient as you navigate these unchartered waters.
- Wash your hands. Water and regular hand soap is all you need. It’s actually the friction in lathering and rubbing your hands together that makes handwashing effective, and the CDC recommends that you do this for at least 20 seconds1. Make sure you wash both sides of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails, and around your thumb. If you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good alternative. If using hand sanitizer, look for one with 60% or greater alcohol content.
- Hydrate! Water helps flush toxins from your system by allowing the kidneys to function properly2, so staying hydrated is especially important. We recommend half your body weight in ounces of water daily.
- Take a bath with epsom salts. Baths can be relaxing and rejuvenating. Anecdotal evidence suggests that epsom salts, a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen, can enhance this experience, leaving your skin feeling softer and relieving muscle pain3.
- Get moving, moderately. Moderate exercise helps reduce stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are natural mood boosters4. However, be careful not to over-do it. Excessive exercise, especially while run-down, can tax your system and spike your cortisol5, wearing you down even further.
- Avoid processed sugar and refined carbohydrates. Studies show a strong link between gut health and the immune system6. Processed sugar and refined carbohydrates can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut7, negatively impacting your immunity.
Self-Care, Sleep, Relax, Rest, and Repeat. Remember, stress is inflammatory! Rest and relaxation help combat stress, which is one of the biggest immunity busters. Chronic stress may suppress your immune system8. Self-care doesn’t need to be grand gestures or a huge time commitment; it’s daily small edits that help bring yourself closer to your center. Pause and re-charge.
Meditation and deep belly breathing (inhale for 5, belly expands; hold for a few breaths; exhale for 7, belly to spine) are tangible ways to relax, combat stress, get out of fight-or-flight mode, and to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system.
Create bedtime rituals that help you decompress before bed to optimize your sleep. While you sleep your body heals, repairs, fights off infections, and resets. We love taking magnesium, dimming the lights when the sun goes down, using calming adaptogens like reishi or teas like tulsi or lavender, turning off media at least 1 hour before bed, baths, deep breathing, and journaling to calm our system before sleep.
- Bring more joy into your life daily and express gratitude. Joy, laughter, and gratitude are beneficial to your wellbeing. Eliminate negative self-talk and use positive affirmations or mantras to give yourself love. Always. Studies suggest that people who practice gratitude can reap emotional, physical, and interpersonal benefits and that the feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with stress9. Start a gratitude journal and practice even for a minute or two a day to experience the benefits.
- Go easy on the over-the-counter pain, cold, congestion, and sleep medicines. Long term use can potentially have damaging effects and lead to your body building up a tolerance to these medications. They also mask symptoms, making it harder for you to recognize what your body really needs (often rest!). We suggest holding off on antibiotics unless your doctor has determined you have a bacterial infection vs. a viral one, as they kill off good bacteria in your gut. If antibiotics are necessary, we recommend taking a probiotic as well10.
For more immunity recommendations and tips, visit our website Embody Wellness Company.
Do you have any immunity tips to share? Please share via the comment section below!
1 Show Me the Science: How to Wash Your Hands. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mar 2020.
2 Water, Hydration, and Health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8): 439–458. Aug 2010.
3 Epsom Salt Detox: What Are The Benefits? Healthline. Mar 2017.
4 Exercising to Relax. Harvard Health Publishing. Jul 2018.
5 Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 31: 587–591. Jul 2008.
6 The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes, 3(1): 4-14. Jan 2012.
7 What’s an Unhealthy Gut? How Gut Health Affects You. Healthline. Jul 2018.
8 Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130(4): 601–630. Jul 2004.
9 Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. Harvard Health Publishing.
10 Prescribing an antibiotic? Pair it with probiotics. The Journal of Family Practice, 62(3): 148-50. Mar 2013.