Ten Ways to Support Your Immune System

Okay, first I want to say a disclaimer that supporting your immune system is not the same as boosting your immune system. There aren’t significant ways to “boost” your immune system, because that’d mean that you’re making it better and stronger than is naturally possible. We’re not going for superhuman, it’s not possible, but we ARE trying to support and optimize what is naturally there. 

1. Eat fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients, which help your body to work efficiently. You can get the scoop on phytonutrients here

Green, yellow, and orange peppers and a red tomato in the foreground. Jen Lyman, dietitian at New Leaf Nutrition, cuts an orange pepper on a wooden cutting board in the background

2. Drink enough water. Staying hydrated is a part of whole body wellness that can be easy to forget. Here are some water infusion ideas that’ll make you feel like you’re in the South of France and not in your jammies watching The Office for the seventh time.

Mason jar of water being infused with grapefruit and rosemary

3. Avoid overly processed foods. Foods that are high in omega six fatty acids (ones that are made with soy or corn oils) can increase inflammation and make it more challenging for our bodies to deal with stress. 

4. Include protein at every meal. Not only do we require protein for normal body functions, but including protein at every meal will help you feel fuller longer and will help prevent sugar cravings.

5. Spend time outside. Now that the sun is a little higher in the sky in Missouri, we’re able to make vitamin D in our skin from the sunlight. Sufficient vitamin D is integral to a healthy immune system—you can read details about that here. You know you’ve made a good dose of vitamin D when your skin has a very faint color change from the sun. For people with light skin this can be achieved in as little as 10 minutes, but could take up to a couple of hours in the sun for people with dark skin. 

6. Supplement with nutrients that your diet is deficient in. Because most of us don’t get enough vitamin D I recommend most people take a vitamin D supplement. If you don’t like fatty fish or just don’t eat it very often you should take DHA. If you use this link you can get a discount on my favorite supplements by clicking on the supplement you want and creating a Fullscript account with me! If you need help figuring out where your diet is deficient send me a message and I’d be happy to make a custom recommendation! s

Variety of vitamins and supplements on a countertop next to a row of cut limes

7. Manage stress. I know that’s a lot easier said than done, but the next three points all give examples of tangible ways to do this. Stress increases cortisol, which is a hormone that impacts a lot of different system functions in ways that aren’t sustainable.

8. Get adequate sleep. If it’s difficult to fall asleep at night there are a couple things you can try, like creating a soothing nighttime routine, drinking a cup Kava tea, trying melatonin or magnesium before bed, or incorporating CBD oil. You can use this link to buy prescription grade CBD oil that Dr. Cangas, a St. Louis area pediatrician, created to help his patients with anxiety, ADHD, and sleep disorders, among other things; use the code NEWLEAF5 for $5 off of EACH item you order!! If sleep continues to evade you despite making changes, it’d be worth talking to your doctor to see if there are other options available. 

9. Find a way to move in a way that’s enjoyable every day. Movement is a great way to deal with pent up energy and stress!

10. Plan something enjoyable regularly. This kind of goes along with managing stress. Something really tiny that I’ve been doing is spending intentional time on the floor with my dogs. Just LOOK at those floppy lips!

Oscar the American Bulldog laying on his back with his paws in the air

As always, if you need help with food, please reach out! You don’t need to have it all together before you meet with a dietitian. We’re on your team and we’re really glad you’re here. 

-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT

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