Chris Wilkinson column: Ways to help your body fight off infections

Your avoidance of getting ill by supercharging your immune system!

There is one thing not being spoken about very much during this current global health crisis that needs to be. Your avoidance of getting ill by supercharging your immune system!

If I straight up ask you what are the top five things you need to be doing today to supercharge your immune system what would you say? Exercise, eat well — the usual answers? Yes, those are included, yet there are really five other things you need to be thinking about.

1. AVOID SMOKING

Smoking kills. Smoking kills your immune system. Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 are known carcinogens that can cause cancer in your body. Yes, this includes smoking weed too. While not nearly as well studied, the common-sense notion is that putting marijuana smoke in your lungs and the chemicals from that smoke in your bloodstream is risky at best.

2. AVOID ALCOHOL

Yes, I realize the suggestion to avoid alcohol and weed will lead to an eye roll or two from many. It still stands. If your health is a priority you’ll do what you need to do to find ways to avoid alcohol and smoke. Perfection isn’t the goal though, just sayin.

3. AVOID SUGAR

OK, now you’re like!?! Is there no pleasure a person can indulge in that won’t kill me? Yes there sure are. Some re-framing of what creates pleasure (dopamine release in the pleasure centre of your brain — the nucleus accumbens) may be a good activity for you. Exercise and a walk in nature are two very worthwhile options to replace that pop or donut.

And for those who didn’t just stop reading after I just suggested they stop doing three of their most common daily activities, here are a few more that are uber-important as well!

4. WASH HANDS FREQUENTLY

If there’s one thing that has been drilled in to us lately, it’s that frequent hand washing with soap and water is highly effective at reducing the spread of viruses and bacteria.

5. GET A GOOD SLEEP

Being at No. 5 on this list does NOT mean it’s less important than any of the other tips. On the contrary, getting a solid sleep each night is one of the STRONGEST immune system superchargers. Avoiding alcohol definitely helps with this. As does leaving your phone in another room before climbing into bed. More and more studies are showing the importance of healthy sleep patterns and duration for maintaining health.

Bonus tips for those who keep reading…

Obviously, the quality of your nutrition matters — that is, what you’re directly using for fuel and repair for your 50 trillion little baby cells in your body. This makes a huge difference in what quality and level of function is happening on the inside of your cells. Nutrition is key! Avoid processed junk and add in fruits, veggies, beans, raw nuts and basically eat as close as you can to the way things came out of the ground. After washing it of course, while you wash your hands.

Stress also kills, like smoking. So finding ways to be more grateful for what you have and practising gratitude multiple times daily, and practising deep/relaxed breathing for a few moments a few times each day will help greatly.

And finally, just move. Be active someway, somehow. Every day. Garden. Or just go for a walk. And when you don’t feel like it — just do it anyway. Just start. Just put on your shoes. That’s how the experts do it. That’s the life hack. They avoid listening to that voice that tries to talk them out of it.

Well, that’s quite a list. If it’s a tad overwhelming just pick one thing to start. Just focus on one. Make a small change that you feel works for you, plan for it daily, and keep it going until it’s a habit. And consider keeping this list handy for when you’re ready to pick the second thing.

Lastly, keep in mind, this list is not only to supercharge your immune system, it’s certainly no coincidence it’s the same list to feel healthier, and more energetic, and mentally clear, and to avoid energy crashes, and to avoid chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, and, and, and…

Be healthy everyone! Take care.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

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