Covid hit and our personal wellness and the strength of our immune system came into focus. Many companies started marketing products that claimed to be “immune-boosting”. The Global Wellness 2021 Trends report stated that “It’s a marketing move that has proven so dangerous that it compelled researchers from the University of Alberta to do a study on the disturbing ways it’s playing out on Instagram.” The analysis revealed that #immunebooster posts grew 46% a month after the pandemic started. As well, the use of “biomedical jargon” was used in an attempt to give these unproven products credibility. Together with researchers from the Global Wellness team, Dr. Lipman, Functional Medicine leader and Dr. Pelletier of the University of San Francisco reviewed hundreds of medical studies. Their goal was to determine what had the most impact in creating a well adjusted, responsive immune system. Their findings showed that exercise, diet, stressing less and getting enough sleep were the core pillars of wellness. Although these lifestyle practices are not revolutionary, they are within our reach.
A Few Tips from the Research on Immune Wellness
Covid-19 exposed the interplay between our metabolic health and our immune system. The combination of a well-balanced diet and regular exercise are key lifestyle habits that can help us to achieve this goal. So many of us have succumbed to purchasing prepared and packaged food products to ease our busy lifestyle. While convenient, these foods usually contain more fat and sugar than is good for us. More than weight loss, the quality of our nutrition in concert with being physically active is key to fortifying our metabolic and immune health.
We all know that chronic stress has a negative impact on our health. Especially now, it is important to find outlets that will help decrease our stress response. “Breathwork” is one of the emerging trends that has proven to have a substantive, positive effect on our immune system. For many, it is a useful lifestyle habit to relieve stress. The medical field has also embraced breathwork, using it as a method to manage chronic pain, stress reduction with cancer patients, and anxiety and stress disorders with teens. In addition, being in nature, exercise, and massage are also recognized as good stress reducers.
Most of us have been affected by some form of insomnia at some point in our life. Our built-in body clock known as our Circadian rhythm follows the light/darkness in our environment. It controls almost every biological system in our body from our sleep-wake cycles, mood and performance patterns to our metabolic and immune systems. It is challenging for many right now with altered work schedules, time zone issues, and additional responsibilities at home. One recommendation is that we don’t use our bed as an office. Experts encourage us to leave our technology in another room and to make our bedroom a place of refuge to relax, enjoy a good book or cuddle with a loved one in a calming atmosphere.
This has been a difficult year for us all. Some good has come from it as we learn about maintaining our health and helping those we love. We will get through this together and bring this new found wisdom with us to make a better future.