If you’re like most people, you don’t start thinking about immunity until it’s all you can think about, but according to integrative physician Bindiya Gandhi, MD, supporting your immune health should actually be a year-round project.
In case your knowledge of how to support your immune system begins and ends with loading up on vitamin C, Dr. Gandhi has a few suggested additions to your daily routine to improve your well-being.
First on the list? Making de-stressing a priority. “If there’s one thing I can’t stress enough, it’s to make sure you are working on stress management,” Dr. Gandhi says. (Ever noticed how you feel worse on the outside when you’re mulling over a problem on the inside?) “Work on this especially in the long run, and you will help keep your immune system happy.”
Dr. Gandhi recommends staving off stress by making time for the things you love, which she does by journaling, painting, going on walks, and meditating. “Whatever you enjoy doing, do more of that during this time,” she adds. Ready to find out how else you can help support your immune health?
Keep scrolling to find out how to support your immune system like a functional doctor—and don’t forget to take notes.
Eat good-for-you nutrients
This may seem like a “duh” moment, but before you start feeling sick, you should think about the health factor of your usual diet. “Eat a variety of colorful, rich-in-antioxidant vegetables during this time,” Dr. Gandhi says. She recommends stocking up on bone broth, golden milk lattes with Manuka honey, and fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso. “If you’re able to juice, incorporate that.” (*Immediately places online grocery order.*)
In addition to eating high-quality ingredients, you can double down on nutrients by adding a supplement to your routine, especially if you know you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins. “Supplementing what you may be missing from your diet is key,” Dr. Gandhi says. “But for [immune support], taking other essential vitamins and supplements is an additional plus.”*
If you need some recs, try Nature’s Way Sambucus Gummies, Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges (both of which pack vitamin C and zinc), or any of the other supplements in Nature’s Way’s immunity-supporting lineup.* And, keep Nature’s Way Umcka Cherry Chewables on hand to help reduce the severity of common cold symptoms.* (Remember: the more support the better.)
Prioritize your sleep
Bet you didn’t need another reason to pencil nap time into your work-from-home cal, but here we are. “Getting adequate sleep is important mainly from a cortisol production point,” Dr. Gandhi says. “When you’re getting less sleep, your cortisol production remains high, which can have a negative impact on your immune system.”
Dr. Gandhi recommends seven to eight hours of quality sleep a night, and suggests creating a bedtime regimen that includes taking a bath, reading, meditating, and avoiding screen time two hours before bedtime. Take the doctor’s orders and break out those lavender bath bombs, stat.
Before you begin sprinting in place, Dr. Gandhi suggests doing gentle workouts like yoga, barre, pilates, walking, and strength training if supporting your overall well-being is your goal. “You want to keep your body moving and active because that decreases stress response,” she says. Just don’t go too hard on the intensity if immunity is your focus, because overtraining can be stressful to the body, Dr. Gandhi says.
Combine a little sweat with some good-for-you nutrients and a solid sleep routine, and you’re well on your way to supporting your health like a total doc—just remember to stress less.
Browse immune-supporting supplements*
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Top photo: Getty Images/svetikd
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.