I’m pushing off my last Ricotta Week recipe until tomorrow because I want to talk about my immune system.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was coming down with a cold. That was my second cold in just over a month. Although it didn’t last as long as the first cold (which gave me a cough for three and a half weeks, no lie), it still knocked me flat for a while. All in all, over the past two months, I spent more time sick than healthy.
Therefore, I’ll outline five steps I’m taking to boost my immune system. I enjoyed reading this discussion on steps you can take to boost your own immune system. The discussion also acknowledges that identifying fail-proof techniques is just about impossible, but offers open-ended suggestions that anyone can follow.
Zee Five Steps:
(1) Plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains (of course).
Who called this one? (Yes, YOU!) What kind of dietitian would I be if I didn’t start with this one? Besides being good for all-around health, a diet packed with fruits and vegetables and whole grains will provide the micro nutrients needed to make sure all my body processes (including my immune system) are running properly. I already eat quite a few fruits and veggies, but now I’m making a conscious effort to include a leafy green, a cruciferous veggie, an orange veggie, and an apple or orange nearly every day. I’ll switch it up often so that I make sure I’m getting as wide a variety of nutrients as possible.
I just picked up a few new whole grains to try last weekend.
I’ve already cooked with teff and am now looking for a good quinoa recipe. Anyone have any suggestions?
(2) Take a multivitamin.
I haven’t taken an MVI in years because I eat a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods, and I feel it’s better to get your nutrients from food rather than pills. Who knows what micro nutrients are in foods that could never be replicated in a vitamin? Besides, a healthy diet displaces not-so-healthy choices.
However! Whenever I catch a cold, I tend to lose my appetite. As a result of the combined two colds over the last few months, I haven’t been eating as much as I used to, and I’m finding it hard to take in what I need for maximum health. So, at least for the near future, I’ll be using a multivitamin to fill in some of the nutritional gaps.
(3) Exercise regularly.
I already have an exercise regimen (alternating running, biking, and weight-lifting). But, as you may have guessed, exercise has fallen by the wayside during my illnesses. Weight-lifting was the first to go, followed by running. Both will make a comeback. I also plan to incorporate more high-intensity interval training into my running workouts.
(4) Stress less.
When Peter and I began preparing for our move around mid-July, my stress levels went through the roof. It does take me a little while to get used to new situations, and living outside the Northeast for the first time in my life was a pretty new situation. I know some of you (particularly the world travelers) may say “that’s not bad at all! You’ll get used to it, so relax!” True — yet everyone deals with stress differently (you can read a little more about this in my vintage guest post on Nicole’s wonderful blog, PreventionRD).
My favorite ways of coping with stress in the past have been exercise, cleaning, writing, and reading. Oh, and rearranging furniture. I kid you not. Peter never knows what our living room will look like after the end of a long day. All of these coping techniques have disappeared while I’ve been busy with other things, including looking for a supplemental job in this new area. I can’t remember the last time I sat and read a book from cover to cover, like I did as a wee tot. It’s time to bring some of these techniques back.
Anyone have any suggestions for a good book?
(5) Sleep like a THIH baby.
This is a tough one. I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac (do you know anyone else who was up at 5 am every morning as a teenager?), and recent weeks have been no exception. While I had my first cold, I didn’t sleep more than a few hours a night for over a week (unpacked from our move in lightning time, though!). I’m not a fan of sleeping pills, so I’ll try the following instead:
*Keeping a consistent bedtime and waking up time (the latter has been the most difficult!)
*Turning off all electronics 1 hour before bedtime
*Read something funny before bed
*DON’T read in bed (I’ve done this one before and it really helps!)
*Make sure I’m not hungry before bed. A light protein-rich and carb-rich snack before bed may help if I need it.
*Some of the tips you guys have given me here.
Each of these affects the other (for example, an excess of #4 definitely stole from #5!), and that’s one reason why maximizing health is so difficult to predict. Everyone reacts to each of these techniques differently, and what may work for one person may not work for another. Our bodies are complicated systems that interact with our environment in ways that we may not understand yet. I’m doing the best I can based on the information I have. And if I catch another cold, you’ll be the first to know 😛
Q: What are your tips for preventing/getting over a cold?