How to Support Your System Naturally
- Written By:Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
As summer begins to wrap up and “back to school” mode sets in, you might be feeling a lot of emotions. During times like these, I tend to direct my attention on my health and wellness, and engage in activities that help me feel strong and in control. I focus on positive behaviors that can boost my immunity and my sanity (who is with me?) in ways that easily fit into my life. Sure, cocktails and long runs help in the moment, but what I’m talking about are behaviors that can support our entire system long term. Below are a few of my favorite and approachable tips that I turn to in times like these because hiding under the covers isn’t gonna do the trick this time!
Hydration is key.
I can’t stress this enough. Our bodies are made up of 60% water and our brains and hearts are 73% water, if we don’t drink enough we begin to pay the price. Water helps maintain body temperature, lubricate joints, transport nutrients to cells, prevent infection, maintain organ health (that includes your skin!) and can improve sleep quality, mood and cognition. Aim for half your body weight in ounces and don’t forget to add fruits and veggies to your meals, they are full of water and help you meet those goals in a crunchy and sweet way!
Eat for immune support.
I’ve said it a million times, but could you please eat the rainbow?! Plants are powerful foods providing vitamins, minerals, fiber, water and antioxidants. They are also easy to add to your daily meals without much hassle. Fresh or frozen, you can enjoy them in smoothies, salads, omelets, stir fries, even sushi. We all know citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which increases white blood cell production, but did you know red pepper, strawberries, kiwi and broccoli are also great sources? Don’t forget the importance of zinc, a nutrient critical to the development of immune cells. Sure you can find it in veggies like mushrooms, asparagus and kale but you can also get a hearty dose from shellfish (see we can get fancy!), poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Pro Tip: Vary the foods you eat daily or weekly even to get a wide variety of nutrients to support your cravings and your health.
Move your body, every damn day.
Working from home can make meeting even just 2,000 steps a day a lofty goal, I get it. Did you know exercise, no matter how intense, can boost your mood, decrease anxiety, fight chronic disease, improve sleep quality and even support cognition and memory? Every little bit helps so on days when that in-home workout just isn’t going to happen, take your conference calls while standing, use the bathroom on a different floor, schedule a daily walk before or after dinner (music, phone calls with mom, podcasts are recommended) or insert some restorative yoga poses to your bedtime routine.
Pro Tip: Set a reminder on your calendar, schedule it like you would any other meeting.
Be selective with your supplements.
During times of stress or when you’re super busy, I really try to stick to my supplement routine. Sure, I aim to take my vitamins/herbs regularly but I bump it up when I’m feeling out of control. This looks like: a solid multi-vitamin to cover all my nutritional bases. Twinlab Daily One is my “go to” — one pill a day, one and done. A probiotic especially when traveling and during cold/flu (covid) season. EVOLUTION_18’s Gut Health Duo pairs their Probiotic with some Debloat Tea. I’m a huge tea person and a little debloating never hurts. Omega 3’s are in there too for my skin, brain and heart. Finally, vitamin D3 and K2 round out my routine to keep my bones and immune system strong.
Pro Tip: Keep them near your toothbrush and take them when you brush your teeth (hopefully morning and night!).
Find some you time.
As a business owner and mom of three young boys, this one is fairly tough to commit to. With that being said it really is the most important. Most days I’ll wake up early just to have 15 minutes to collect my thoughts before the house starts to shake. Making a list and sipping hot water with lemon usually does the trick. I also aim for 7 hours of sleep a night (yes that means I don’t Netflix and chill).
Most recently I’ve started making time for books again either in the evening before bed (if I can keep my eyes open) or with my kids during their required reading time. Of course I’d love to say I meditate (you should!), do yoga (not for me) and clean to clear my head (I don’t) but find what works for you.
Pro Tip: JUST DO IT!
So when the going gets busy just remember these tips and support your system in ways where you can. Manageable, healthy and routine worthy, focus on a few and build from there.
Amy Shapiro is the founder of Real Nutrition.