No one wants to get sick — ever really — but especially now
The good news is your immune system is in your corner. Your immune cells are constantly patrolling your body, looking for threats to your health and dispatching them. They form a large and complex team, working together to protect you. But you’re part of the team, too.
Learn more about seven things you can do to help keep your immune system functioning with all hands-on deck:
1: Be Awesome at Hygiene
The simplest thing you can do to protect yourself from whatever is going around is to wash your hands with soap and water. Despite what the label on that bottle of hand sanitizer says about killing 99.99% of germs, hand washing is more effective.1 Why? First, because soap and water work better at removing certain germs, and second, because not everyone uses enough sanitizer to do the job right.
Interestingly, soap does not kill germs. (Unless you’re using antibacterial soap, which only kills bacteria — not viruses.) It makes your skin too slippery for germs to stick, and then they slide down the drain. Cool, huh?
Washing your hands sounds simple enough, but there’s actually a method to it. First, take your rings off. The spaces covered by your rings can harbor germs. Use warm — not hot — water. Scrub all parts of your hands, including the backs and between your fingers, and be thorough. And give it some time: Twenty seconds does the trick (about the amount of time it takes to sing the ABCs).
2: Clean All The Things
It’s not just your hands that need washing. Humans, as it turns out, are pretty germy types, and we’re not the best at cleaning up after our invisible microbial detritus.
First things first: your phone. Guys, your phone is filthy. The average cell phone is covered with 25,127 bacteria per square inch — 20 times more than the average toilet seat.2 They get there from your germy hands. (See above.) Viruses can also be transmitted from your hands to your phone and live there for days. So, make cleaning your phone a daily practice. This article from the New York Times explains exactly how.
Other super-dirty things you should clean on the regular with a 70% alcohol solution include: your keyboard (especially now that so many of us are working from home), your glasses, your sponge (those things are even dirtier than your phone), your fridge door handle, your microwave touch pad, your toothbrush holder, your steering wheel, your showerhead, your laundry basket, your purse, and your mailbox handle.3 No alcohol? You’ve got options. According to the CDC, you can also use an EPA-registered household disinfectant spray or a homemade diluted household bleach solution.
3: Pig Out on Plants
What you eat impacts the strength of your immune system. A plant-based diet not only nourishes you; it also feeds the soldiers of your immune system.
Plants foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes (not to mention red wine and dark chocolate!) contain polyphenols. These healthful compounds support your immune system in several ways. They regulate important immune markers to help keep you well. They provide a nutrient source for the good bacteria in your gut. They act against harmful bacteria to boost your immunity. And finally, they fortify your core gut architecture — where 70 to 80 percent of your immune system is housed.
Plant foods are also full of healthy fiber. While you may associate fiber with keeping you regular, it has several other benefits. First, soluble fiber — found in beans, oats, avocadoes, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, and peas — stimulates infection-fighting T cells.4 Second, some soluble fibers also act as prebiotics, giving your good gut bacteria a healthy snack so they can thrive. Foods high in prebiotic soluble fiber include Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, onions, whole grains, and bananas. Previlli™ contains both polyphenols and prebiotic fiber, helping you fill in the gaps of a less-than-perfect diet.
Many fruits and veggies also contain vitamins A and C, which are powerful antioxidants, as well as folate, which supports the immune system.
4: Move That Body
You know exercise is good for you, but did you know it’s good for your immune system, too? A recent scientific paper published in the Journal of Sport and Health Sciences came to the following conclusions:5
- Acute exercise improves the body’s ability to defend itself.
- People who exercise moderately experience less illness than those who don’t.
- Habitual exercise improves immune regulation — the body’s capacity to control itself so that it responds to real threats, but not to harmless substances (such as allergens).
There are several theories as to why exercise is good for immunity.
One theory is that physical exertion may flush germs out of your lungs and respiratory system, making you less likely to come down with something. Another is that being active causes white blood cells to circulate faster through your body, making it more likely they’ll find threats quickly. A final theory is that exercise reduces levels of stress hormones, which can contribute to illness.6 And in these times of heightened anxiety, we could all use a decrease in stress hormones!
5: Rebuild Through Sleep
Have you noticed how run down you feel when you skimp on shuteye? That’s because while you sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, which serve as messengers for the immune system.7 When an army can’t communicate orders from headquarters to the front lines, it can’t fight as well. To make matters worse, when you’re sleep-deprived, you also make fewer antibodies and white blood cells — your primary infection-fighting soldiers.
The effect of lack of sleep on immune function is pretty dramatic. One study found that people who slept less than seven hours a night were almost three times more likely to come down with a cold after being exposed to a cold-causing virus than those who got eight hours or more. Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether study subjects felt rested or not; what mattered was the actual amount of sleep they got.8
6: Cultivate Happiness
Wait, what? Cultivate happiness? We’re in the middle of a world crisis and we’re supposed to “cultivate happiness”? Yep, for just that reason.
Just as stress can depress your immunity, happiness can boost it. In fact, there’s even a research institution, called the Cousins Center, whose sole purpose is researching the role outlook has in fending off disease.
As it turns out, a series of research studies indicate that how you feel affects your gene expression — in other words, whether certain genes turn “on” or “off.” People who are lonely, and therefore sad, are more likely to have their antiviral genes in the off position, while people who are sociable, and therefore happy, experience the reverse.9
So how do you change your outlook? That’s been studied too. Amazingly, people who were stressed or lonely were able to turn on their antiviral genes simply by practicing daily meditation for eight weeks — in one study, for just 12 minutes per day.10,11
7: Take Your Previlli™
As mentioned previously, most of your immune cells (70 to 80 percent) are in your gut.12 Why are they there? Because your gut is the primary battleground for germs. Everything you ingest enters your gut. As a result, your gut comes into contact with the outside world more than any other part of your body — even your skin.
When your gut’s in tip-top shape, your immune cells and beneficial bacteria can function well to protect you. That’s where Previlli™ comes in. Previlli™ is a comprehensive gut health formula that works on your gut in ways that probiotics alone can’t. Because unlike probiotics, which are simply supplements of beneficial bacteria, Previlli™ supports the core gut architecture of your gut — making it a happy, healthy place for good bacteria to live.* Learn more.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- Huget, Jennifer. Defense against colds: plenty of sleep. The Washington Post. Jan. 9, 2009.