There is no shortage of “couch doctors” advising on social media today. It is hard to separate fact from fiction. Our ‘healthcare’ is more about ‘sick care’ these days. What can you do to stay healthy and protect yourself from disease? Who do you listen to?
I am not an MD. Let me state that upfront. Research does give us some clues about strategies that are tried and true, that can at least assist in healthy “self-care”. I want strategies that I can practice, that are practical, and simple to add to my busy life.
Below are a few strategies that I have come up with to help you avoid getting sick. You can add these to your list of strategies to stay healthy.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Create a routine that works with your circadian rhythm. Sleeping can increase your immune system’s ability to fight off illness, fight disease, and heal better when you do get sick. Deep restorative sleep improves your T cells that fight off bacterial and virus-infected cells.
2. Test your Vitamin D Levels
We are more likely to have lower vitamin D levels in the winter, due to the drop in exposure to the sun. Vitamin D plays a significant role in the prevention and treatment of hypertension, MS, depression, diabetes, and even some cancer. It will help your body fight off even Covid-19, flu, and the common cold. Low vitamin D levels can contribute to weight gain.
3. Take Zinc!
Zinc is the second most abundant trace mineral found in your body, the first being iron. It is present in every cell, and necessary for the health of your cells. It is necessary for the activity of more than 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, and many other processes, according to Friedman, author of Food Sanity. Zinc helps the body to activate your T cells, which are responsible for attacking foreign pathogens (viruses, cancer…) in the body.
4. Take 30-Minute Walk Daily
Movement increases the blood flow to all your internal organs, can reset your body’s chemistry, help your mood, can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. If you sit at work, getting up and walking every hour can help your concentration, and improve your focus.
5. Prioritize your Mental Health!
Verbal processing (talking) with a professional can help with your mood, your focus, your stress levels, keep you more grounded, focus your energy, manage your priorities, help your communication skills, and better your relationships. Taking care of your mental health is a form of self-care. Self-Care is Soul-Care.
6. Find Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress is considered a leading contributing factor in your immune system’s ability to fight off disease. It can trigger an immune system reaction that can create inflammation. Inflammation is a contributor to hypertension, heart disease, joint pain, stroke, depression, anxiety, suicide, and many other stress-related ailments. Talking to a professional can help you sort out the ways to reduce your stress. Prayer and meditation are great ways to reduce your stress levels too.
7. Eat a Balanced Food Plan
A balance between protein, vegetables, and complex carbs. You can help your immune system by making fruit and leafy, green vegetables the main focus on your plate balanced out with protein and complex carbs. Increase your intake of fish for Omega-3, use olive oil, add avocados, nuts, and fiber. In America, we eat too much sugar in our diet. Drink more water and watch the portion size.
Dr. Don Gilbert, MS, PHD, LMHC, BCPC is the owner of New Life Counseling. He trained under Dr. Gary Rosberg, is John Maxwell Certified, is an ordained minister, a published author, and has over 20 years of face-to-face counseling experience. Dr. Gilbert is no longer taking new counseling clients, but he is available for trainings, coaching, and speaking. Please contact us for more information.