The Zika virus is in the news, and it is frightening to learn the ways this mosquito-borne virus will impact thousands. Can a strong immunity help?
I think a lot about building immunity. As a mom to a young woman who is traveling to Thailand in a few months, my ears perk up around the topic of Zika. Are you on high-alert about spending time in warm climates?
Zika is passed in three ways:
- From pregnant women to their unborn babies
- Through blood transfusions
- In semen during unprotected sex
Here’s what is known so far about immunity and the Zika virus. Most of those who get Zika are asymptomatic or feel mildly ill for about a week. Others who contract this virus develop Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease that can lead to temporary paralysis. Since early 2015, over 5,000 babies have been born with microcephaly, a devastating disease characterized by an unusually small head and damage to the brain. Reports tell us that scientists suspect Zika in these cases.
In cities where there is air conditioning and windows with screens, unlike the circumstances in many Brazilian cities were there is neither, an outbreak will be much less severe. Thomas Scott, Ph.D. reports from UC Davis, that fewer people in the U.S are being affected because of this housing difference.
Zika virus is still a concern for many, and in thinking about a vaccine that is still a few years away, I am hopeful that the Holistic Health approach to building our immunity is understood and followed-through by everyone. Certain plant foods contain significant amounts of substances that enhance human immune function and defenses against acute illness and chronic disease. Focusing on exceptional self-care and strengthening our immune system may be all we can do at times like this — especially everyone who is planning to travel to or lives in warm climates. Did you know that our immune system is the frontline defense against viruses, bacteria, toxins, and other harmful substances? Here are my top tips for keeping your immune system strong.
TOP 6 TIPS FOR BUILDING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Add Probiotics to your daily routine. Our microbiome or gut environment is a key player in our immune strength. I recommend you take a high quality probiotic every day. The immune defense is strengthened when there is a good balance between good and bad bugs in our system.
- Detox your Environment. Spring cleaning is therapeutic for many, and keeping your home environment clean will cut the toxic load of your daily life.
- Emphasize Antioxidants. A diet built on the foundation of whole, real food will naturally supply your body with antioxidants. Vitamins C, A and D, as well as Turmeric are all known to keep our immunity strong. Exposure to sunlight tends to increase this time of year, yet many of us are still deficient. I recommend you supplement with D3, especially if your time in the sun is minimal. Turmeric is the popular Indian spice, and the curcumin is protective to immune cells, preventing free radical damage. I take a high-quality turmeric supplement each day.
- Reduce Stress. Our immune system is weakened when we live with chronic stress. Our healthy coping skills are vital when the stressful lifestyles we’ve all grown accustomed to trigger us. We cannot avoid all stresses, but we can cope by consistently practicing meditation, yoga, taking walks, exercising, and eating wholesome foods. This kind of stress-coping will make each day go more smoothly, as well as keep our immune system strong for the occasional stress of harmful microbes and viruses.
- Prioritize Sleep. I remember feeling virtuous when I bragged about “getting by” on 5 hours of sleep each night in college. We didn’t know then how vital restful sleep was to our overall wellness. Sleep resets our entire system, helps us relieve stress, and nourishes our immunity. Do you have a sound-sleep ritual that works for you?
- Learn to cook with and enjoy superfoods that enhance our resistance: leafy greens, mushrooms, onions, pomegranates, berries, kale, cabbage, collards, broccoli, turnips, and seeds like flax and hemp. Make sure you enjoy plenty of the healthy fats your body needs to be at its best; coconut, olive oil, and grass-fed butter.