What’s the most reliable way to optimize your health and immunity in 2021, according to Heather Huntsman, Ph.D., CSCS? Nutrition. (This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise!) Read on to find out how goal setting around nutrition is your best bet in getting back to your best healthy and supporting your immune system.
Believe it or not, we are nearing the end of 2020, which means it is time to start thinking about our goals for the upcoming year. While this past year has been a lot to process for many different reasons, I think it’s safe to say that we all have had time to reflect on our lives and what is most important to us. Setting health goals is a novel thing, but I’m guessing that getting healthier in 2021 carries a little more weight than in past years. And while it seems like there is hope around the corner with the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine, regardless what your views are about the vaccine, it is just one of many tools we need to get back to some level of normalcy.
As you start thinking about your goals for the upcoming year, I want to provide you with a list of evidence-based strategies for optimizing your health, and specifically your immune system, so that you are ready for whatever the new year brings.
Nothing on this list will be a surprise to you, but don’t let that deter you from taking each strategy seriously and either starting or improving on any or all of the listed behaviors. Think of it this way: if your doctor told you to a pill that is guaranteed to make you healthier and recover faster from an illness, you’d take that pill right?! It’s a no brainer. Although this pill doesn’t exactly exist, list below has just as much scientific evidence to back up that same claim. Not only are the following behaviors good for heart health, brain function, and a myriad of other systems, but each one has been shown to contribute to a well-balanced and proper functioning immune system.1-3
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get adequate sleep
- Minimize stress
- Don’t smoke
- If you drink, do so in moderation
This list is in no way ranked by effectiveness, however, I do want to spend a little extra time on the first bullet point. Nutrition is often one of the hardest aspect of health to get right, but when it comes to immune function, it can be an extremely powerful tool in your optimal health equation. To function well, your immune system requires a number of factors that can be found in a well-balanced diet.4 Below is a table with the key nutrients shown to improve immune function along with example dietary sources.5
I encourage you to go back to some of our previous articles to find more information and detailed strategies for exercise routines, nutrition planning, fat loss, and even evidence-based goal setting strategies.
As I sign off for the year here, congratulations on surviving a really tough few months! I don’t think we are completely out of the woods yet, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. Good things are coming in 2021, and a better and healthier version of you is one of them. So set your goals, and prioritize you…you’re definitely worth it!
Curious about how Nutrition Coaching can help put you on a path towards optimal health? Call us today for a consult!
- How to boost your immune system (2020) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.
- Glaser R, et al. (2005) Stress-induced immune dysfunction: implication for health, Nature Reviews, 5:243-250. doi: 1038/nri1571.
- Dhabhar FS. (2014) Effects of stress on immune function: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Immunology Research, 58:193-210. doi: 1007/s12026-014-8517-0.
- McAuliffe S, et al. (2020) Dietary micronutrients in the wake of COVID-19: an appraisal of evidence with a focus on high-risk groups and preventative healthcare. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, 3:e000100. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000100.
- Clader PC. (2020) Nutrition, immunity and COVID-19. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, 3:e000085. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000085.