As we continue to enter the new year of 2021, it is absolutely vital to put our health as one of our top priorities. By focusing on our immune system, we can kickstart our health and ensure that we are doing everything in our power to successfully reach optimal wellness. About 70% of our immune system lives within our gastrointestinal tract, so it is crucial that we treat our gut with utmost care. When we think of our immune system, what comes to mind? For most nowadays, preventing the contraction of COVID-19 is of interest especially as we mark the pandemic being amongst us for over a year. Ensuring that we put our health and bodies first is the most important step towards optimizing our immune system. Immune-boosting nutrients work to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and harmful bacteria that otherwise create disruptions in every physiological process in our body. It is crucial to consume sufficient energy on a daily basis in order to properly nourish our bodies in addition to consuming nutrients that have immunomodulatory, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties such as vitamin C, curcumin, vitamin E, zinc, glutathione, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium. All of these nutrients play an integral role in our immunity and our ability to both prevent and fight off illness.
Above all else, consuming a well-balanced diet full of nutrient-dense food including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean and/or plant-based protein, low- or fat-free dairy products, and water will allow our bodies to have access to these incredibly helpful nutrients that boost our bodies’ natural immune defense and to ensure that our bodies are in a state of homeostasis. When we consume nutrient-dense diets, we allow our gut microbiome to be in a state of eubiosis, which is the perfect harmony between our gut bacteria that lives and thrives as an ecosystem in our gastrointestinal tract. When we consume energy-dense, rather than nutrient-dense food, we ultimately decide to fuel our bodies with a burst of energy that will soon after diminish, leaving us feeling lethargic and in most cases, unsatiated and wanting more. Foods that are energy-dense include, but are not limited to, processed, high in saturated fat, high in refined carbohydrates, and high in sodium. By choosing to consistently consume energy-dense foods, we are also choosing to throw off our homeostatic, balanced gut, which leads to a state of dysbiosis. This undesirable state negatively affects all of our other organ systems and can lead to hormone imbalances, decreased immune function, disrupted mental cognition, metabolism alterations, and so on.
By prioritizing your health, you prioritize every single organ system in your body. Choosing a well-balanced diet, moving your body in enjoyable ways, and checking in with your mental health is your kickstart package to living a long, healthy life. By making small, realistic, and individualized changes that work for you and your lifestyle, you will see incredibly remarkable changes to your physical, metabolic, physiologic, and mental health. It is never too late to prioritize you, so why not start now?