Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

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4 tips to support the immune system...


Welcome to GreenNote Fitness Reflections.

Each month I share with you what I’m doing for longevity - to live my life fully with joy while serving others.

We will deep-dive into optimizing brain function and mitochondrial health while

maintaining strength and balance of body, mind, and spirit.

We are in the middle of a pandemic and I”m feeling incredibly grateful and inspired. There are many reasons and people for this. Today I am specifically thanking healthcare professionals. Amen.

Lately I’ve spent much time reading and listening to extremely dedicated, intelligent, and thoughtful speaking doctors and scientists. We are very fortunate to have them, and all healthcare professionals looking at facts, looking at solutions. We need this level of sophistication. Calm and informative communication is a sign of leadership.

To further my gratitude for the sacrifice of others, I’m doing my part to be part of the solution. To that end, I’m focusing on my overall health and ways to support the immune system to not further burden an extremely taxed healthcare system.

Let's take a look at 4 things I’m doing to support overall wellness and my immune system.

#1.) Morning walks in the sunshine and recovery training

Now that the weather is nicer, it has been great to get out early in the morning for a walk and get sunlight and fresh air. This is a great way to start the day and it helps to reset the natural circadian rhythm which will help with sleep.

I will generally go a little over three miles but it could be shorter than that to get the benefits. From my self-quantification feedback tool, the Oura Ring, I can see that my deep sleep has improved leaving me feeling very rested.

I’m mindful of my immune system and am not beating myself up with punishing workouts which can increase inflammation. Too much stress on the body can have deleterious effects. While not doing much high-intensity training at this time, I am doing some resistance training in the afternoon or early evening. In addition to morning breath work, I”m incorporating that in the evening before I go to bed which will help with sleep.

#2.) Hot / Cold contrast showers

I will do 10 seconds of hot water followed immediately by 20 seconds of cold water and repeat 10 times. Besides helping the immune system, you feel amazing. This seems to be just the right amount of stress. We don’t want to much but a little is beneficial.

With the contrast of hot to cold, you get the blood flow benefits from your body opening and closing the blood vessels which has a cardiovascular and fat loss effect that come from that. The cold builds stress resilience. It activates your mammalian-dive reflex causing you to take a deep influx of air that actually increases your ability to be able to handle a little bit of stress.

Cold exposure leads to fat loss, shuts down inflammation, and strengthens the immune system primarily by increase levels of immune system cells that help fight disease and infection. Delving deeper, cold exposure (likely due to it's ability to stimulate norepinephrine release) can induce leukocytosis and granulocytosis, an increase in natural killer cell count and activity, and a rise in circulating levels of interleukin-6, all of which can massively improve your immune system integrity.

#3.) Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction can help with the immune system. As we know, fasting helps to clean up cellular junk through a process called autophagy. However, similar to exercise, overdoing fasting can have deleterious effects on the immune system.

I personally do a 16-hour fast three times per week and avoid snacking in between meals. A study showed that ketone bodies that are formed when you aren’t snacking can be helpful in suppressing an inflammatory response and assist the immune system.

#4.) Eating foods with vitamin C and avoiding sugars and processed foods

Sugar and processed foods promote inflammation which we certainly don’t want. To help protect the immune system, I’m avoiding these types of foods. Instead, I’m eating a non-processed carbohydrate in the evening, my favorite - sweet potato. It’s great with KerryGold grass-fed butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. For foods with vitamin C, am eating dark leafy greens and vegetables like broccoli. Soon I will be adding peppers and tomatoes.

The one little darling will for sure be added to the grocery list is the kiwi. This little fruit packs a wallop. It’s a great source for vitamin C and can help with sleep. Sleep? Yes. They are rich in serotonin and antioxidants both of which may help with sleep.

From Psychology Today:

Loaded with Vitamin C, kiwi has potent antioxidant properties, which help boost immune system function and enhance cell protection and repair. Studies point to the high-fiber, potassium-rich kiwi as a possible aid to heart health and to respiratory function. Research suggests that kiwi is beneficial for children with respiratory problems.

Yes, adding that to the grocery cart for sure!

In summary, we can see that part of helping our immune system is being cognizant of inflammation and implementing a lifestyle that will help in balancing it so as not to get too much. Sleep is critically important, along with intermittent fasting, it helps to clean up and repair damaged cells. Without a doubt, eating real foods and foods with vitamin C is going to help the immune system.

Here’s to overall wellness and a strong immune system by:

  • Getting morning sunlight, light resistance, and breath work

  • Doing some cold exposure with contrast to hot

  • Continuing with intermittent fasting and not snacking in between meals

  • Stepping up my vitamin C game

Again, a big, big thank you to healthcare professionals!

To our reflection,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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