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Immune defenses: more than a mask

Masks are something everyone is buzzing about right now. Their purpose is to prevent potentially infectious droplets from being exchanged. Regardless of how you feel about them, we can all likely agree that masks should not be a stand alone recommendation or what will be the silver bullet that solves all infectious disease concerns right now. At minimum, they should be just one of the many things we are buzzing about this season.

We can’t forget about the topics and habits we’ve known about for years that matter when it comes to preventing infection and supporting your immune system! Here is the foundational list of things we need to also be thinking about this cold and flu season.

Sleep 

Lack of quality sleep can compromise our immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Evidence shows you’re more likely to get sick after viral exposure when you haven’t slept, and the amount you sleep also impacts your recovery time. Aim for 8 hours per night! If you are not able to get quality sleep, make sure you are talking to a provider who can help you with this right away.

Couple sleeping in the bedroom

Stress

Stress is the root cause of almost every illness, and too much of it decreases your immune system’s ability to fight infection. Despite everything stressful in the world right now, find outlets and ways to decrease your stress levels for your own health! Deep breathing, exercise, a funny show, or a call to a friend are some great ideas!

Hygiene 

Don’t overlook the power of washing your hands for enough time. Furthermore, be sure you are not giving yourself cracked, dry skin as a result which can be a break in your natural protection barrier. Lotion or salve once a day on your fingers and joints of your hands can help prevent this. If you wear clothes on public transportation or shared spaces, it’s a good idea to make sure you wash them when you get home.⠀

Laundry time!

Movement 

Regular exercise increases mitochondrial function, AKA the way our cells make energy. If your cells don’t have enough energy they cannot do vital functions such as fighting off infection! Plus, moving your muscles also moves lymph through your lymphatic system, another way our immune system does clean up and surveillance. There is tons of positive research to show regular exercise improves immune function!⠀

Macro Nutrition

Just like we talked about above, you need energy to fight infection so be sure you are fueling your body with quality energy. This looks different for different people, but ensuring you are getting enough protein and choosing complex carbohydrates can help improve energy and immune function. Simple carbohydrates like sugar can decrease the ability of your immune system to function properly.⠀

Sugar

Micro Nutrition 

Nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin d, zinc, and vitamin A play an important role in immune cell function. They have specific doses for different types of individuals for safety though, so be sure to talk to your doctor and find out how you can eat foods containing these nutrients or supplement accordingly in a safe way for you. Our doctors love to teach patients how to use these powerful nutrients in their everyday life!