By Bill Kalman, Pharmacist/Owner Essential Wellness Pharmacy
This time of year, and in this pandemic, illness is quite common place. We have learned the many tips and tricks to support our immune system before we get sick with lifestyle, diet, and supplements that can support our immune system, but what can be done to help recover from illness. There are also a number of practices that can help in the recovery process to increase the immune responsiveness while decreasing the duration of sickness.
Diet can play a major role in recovery. First, skip the alcohol. Though many people like a “hot toddy” or evening cocktail, your body prioritizes clearing the alcohol out of your body over getting rid of harmful pathogens, thereby undermining the immune system. Next, avoid processed foods and “sugary” sweets, which are high in carbohydrates and unhealthy fats and low in the nutrients needed for the immune system to function efficiently. Sugars and artificial sweeteners can disrupt the probiotics (healthy bacteria) in the gut and trigger inflammation, which is an immune system function. This takes away from the immune system’s ability to fight illness and infection. Remember to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated allows for healthy fluid movement and detoxification which aids the immune system and can diminish the duration of sickness. A good rule to follow is to divide your weight in pounds by 2 and drink that many ounces of water per day. Finally, eat plenty of greens and other vegetables and foods or drinks high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. About 70 percent of the body’s immune system is located in the gut. This includes the probiotics. Eating green, leafy vegetables provides antioxidants, zinc, vitamin C, and fiber. The fiber gives the prebiotics (food) for the probiotics and aids in detoxification. Try to eat at least 4 to 6 servings of vegetables and one or two servings of fruit daily to get the amounts of vitamins and minerals you will need for immune support and eat a “rainbow” of foods (many different types and colors) since each has a different nutritional content. If you find it difficult to eat this much, a good multivitamin/multimineral supplement that is taken twice a day can support you. Different supplements which boost immune function such as vitamin D, Vitamin A, zinc, and beta-glucans can be taken to shorten the duration of the illness.
Many lifestyle changes and tips can help speed up the recovery as well. Start by taking time off of work. By staying home you are preventing the cyclical spread of germs to another and back to you. It also allows your body to rest which lowers the stresses place on the immune system, the mind, and the adrenal glands. Psychological AND physical stress can suppress the immune system response which slows recovery and increases you susceptibility to further illness. It is best to avoid the stresses and when you can’t, find ways to manage the stress and find relaxation during your day. It is important to take time for yourself and your health before taking care of others or other business. Many stress reducing activities can include, yoga, meditation, deep breathing techniques, reading, and exercising—especially walking. Gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, or stretching can encourage lymphatic flow. The lymph system and the immune system are linked and the gentle exercise can support the body’s ability to fight off infection. Finally, be sure to get adequate sleep at night. Sleep is needed to promote the body’s natural capacity to both heal itself and fight off infections. The goal for sleep should be an average of eight hours per night. If needed, adjust your sleep routine to get as much resting time as possible.
If you are interested in learning more about boosting your immune system and implementing healthy lifestyle changes or any other health issues, please feel free to contact Essential Wellness Pharmacy, located at 4625 N. University Street in Peoria, at 309-681-8850 to set up a personal, one-on-one consultation with one of our pharmacists. Consultations with our pharmacists are FREE through the month of April. We look forward to serving you and your family and assisting with all your health needs.