Immune-boosting strategies for back-to-school
Shorter days and cooler temps are reminding us that summer is coming to an end and we are now in the thick of back-to-school season. Our schedules have changed from flexible and full of adventures to routine and a little hectic. With all of that comes more stress plus the added bonus of your kids bringing home plenty of viruses from school, not just COVID but colds and flu bugs. This year more than ever, Elyse is trying to keep her kids healthy because one little cold could mean a whole week of missed school.
While there are lots of factors that we can’t control and it is inevitable that your kids will catch colds this year or even COVID, there are plenty of lifestyle factors that we can control to boost our immune system, which can help you (and your kids) recover faster. Diet, exercise, sleep, and stress are the main tools to help you build a stronger immune system. Let's dive into those...
4 Tips For Maintaining a Strong Immune System
Run your way to stronger immunity
Exercise has been long studied and proven to boost our immune systems. Studies show that regular exercise reduces inflammatory biomarkers, increases our natural immune cells (white blood cells) and our circulation (1). So not only do our immune cells increase, but they’re moving through our body at a faster rate.
Another great reason to keep on running is to help reduce stress and anxiety. We’ve all experienced that post-run high and surge of endorphins. Our minds feel more clear, our moods improve, and so do our stress levels.
Load up on immune-boosting foods
Our immune systems are dependent on how we treat our bodies, including what we put into our bodies. Eating a diverse whole food-based diet will give your immune system the support it needs to fight off the bugs!
Some important nutrients for a strong immune system include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium (to name a few).
Some of our favorite immune-boosting foods rich in these vitamins and minerals include citrus, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, turmeric, fresh herbs like parsley, nuts, seeds, oats, legumes, fish, whole milk yogurt, grass-fed butter, and free-range eggs.
So when you’re at the grocery store, bring a list of these foods with you and stock up!
Make sleep a priority
Sleep plays a huge role in our overall health and especially the health of our immune system. We’ve all travelled with jet lag or experienced lack of sleep from dealing with kids only to find ourselves with a runny nose or scratchy throat a few days later. That’s often because the lack of sleep combined with the stress weakens our immune system.
Here are just a few tips to help improve your sleep:
- Limit your caffeine intake to just the mornings
- Stay away from screens close to bedtime
- Slow, deep breathing before bed
- Get plenty of magnesium in your diet (eat your leafy greens, nuts, seeds!)
We have a whole section about tips for better sleep in Rise & Run!
Learn how to manage your stress
Life is stressful, especially with kids! So while reducing stressful things is not easy, it’s a lot more sustainable to learn how to manage your stress so it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on your immune system and body.
Here are a few tips to help manage stress:
- Exercise. Running, walking, yoga, or any exercise that you enjoy will leave you with a clearer mind, better mood, and less stress.
- Breathe. Slow, deep breathing has been shown to reduce stress and help with sleep. Read more about specific breathing techniques here.
- Journal. With so much going on in life and the stress that comes with it, it’s super helpful to write things down. It’s amazing how getting your thoughts and feelings on paper immediately makes you feel lighter and less stressed.
Pre-order our new Rise & Run cookbook. It's loaded with tips for morning routines, better sleep, and nourishing recipes to fuel you up and keep your energy high and immune systems strong.
Natalie is a nutritionist and personal chef in Bend, OR who specializes in women's health and sports nutrition. She loves creating simple, nourishing meals and recipes to fuel your life. Join Natalie's Cooking Club for weekly menus, grocery lists, videos, and meal prep tips!