Well, it looks like we are finally getting close to reopening society. Whether you agreed with a nationwide shutdown or not we had to get back to some semblance of normalcy eventually or our economy would have died and the effects of a broken economy would be much more devastating than the virus. I am by no means downplaying the dangers of a pandemic but what I am advocating for is the freedom to choose how we will respond to these incidents.
The fact that 100k people have died ( according to government sources ) out of 330 million means that .0003% of our population died from the disease while unemployment is over 36 million. That is over 10% of the population and while they may still be alive, their quality of life has drastically changed. Only time will tell if we made the correct decision as a nation.
So are you ready to expose yourself to the dangers of being around people? I know I am. You may be wondering what makes me feel this way? Well, I live my life in a way that allows me to focus on the things I can control and not the things I can’t. I can’t control what others do or say but I can control my response to them and I can do things to put myself in the best possible situation to handle the unexpected.
Disease happens, every year the flu comes and affects millions of people, not to mention cancer, car accidents, and other unexpected tragedies. So what can we do? Well we can put our health at the center of our lives and avoid most preventable diseases through proper nutrition and exercise, we can drive defensively and wear our seat belts, and we can take the necessary precautions to avoid illness. I’m not talking about staying inside for the rest of our lives either, I’m talking about taking full responsibility for our health and living in a way that strengthens our immune system.
You may remember at the beginning of all this I put out a video describing ways you could strengthen your immune system to better prepare yourself against any disease. Today we will be giving you a refresher on some of the best ways to actually make your immune system stronger and better prepare yourself for re-entry into society.
1. Avoid Staying Up Late
They say nothing good happens after midnight, and most of the time they are right. For hundreds of thousands of years, our species rose with the sun and sleep with the dark. Our bodies aren’t meant to stay up late at night and our immune system reflects that. Shift work like being a nurse, firefighter, or police officer has profound negative effects on your health. So does staying up late watching tv, working, or partying.
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep lowers your white blood cell count and reduces the level of cytokines in your body. Think of white blood cells as your immunity cells. In a sense, they are always at war. They flow through your bloodstream to fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders that threaten your health. Cytokines are a group of proteins secreted by cells of the immune system that act as chemical messengers. Cytokines released from one cell affect the actions of other cells by binding to receptors on their surface. Through this process, cytokines help regulate the immune response. Both of these are vital to a healthy immune response, and bad sleep can compromise both.
I can attest to this from experience. This February I decided to get up at 430 am for the first time in an effort to be more productive on a busy day. I got up, did some school work, and then went to school for 8 hours. I sat next to a woman who was very sick and as the day went on I got weaker and weaker. By the time I got home that day I had the flu. Several people were at our table but only I got sick because I was the only one on limited sleep. So make sleep a priority by developing a routine where you go to sleep at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will keep your body in a rhythm, and that’s exactly what your body likes.
2. Reduce Sugar Intake
We all know how bad sugar is for us but I bet you didn’t know that sugar actually prohibits vitamin C from reaching white blood cells resulting in weakened immunity. This can last for hours too, keeping you in a weakened state long after the food is digested. If you have a craving for sweets try to stick to nature’s candy, fruit. Fruits have fiber, polyphenols, and vitamins and minerals which actually can improve immunity.
3. Reduce Alcohol
Yet another reason to give up America’s most socially acceptable drug, Alcohol has been proven to lower white blood cells, tax the liver, and disrupt the digestive process. It also dehydrates you and being dehydrated lowers immunity🤯 Double Whammy!!!
4. No Smoking
Are you smoking cigarettes? If you are, then stop, it’s really that simple. It’s not 1950 anymore.
5. Avoid Too Much Caffeine
We all love a nice cup of coffee in the morning but did you know excessive caffeine stimulates your nervous system and increases stress levels in the body. This increases cortisol and when cortisol is elevated for extended periods of the day( you only want it elevated in the morning) you can disrupt the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and impair sleep (remember reason number 1). If you do like caffeine then stick to a little in the morning and avoid coffee, 5-hour energy, monster, and your pre-workout after 12pm. Yet another reason to train in the morning:)
6. Avoid A Sedentary Lifestyle
You knew this was coming right? Sitting down literally puts your body into hibernation. Movement is the catalyst that allows all of our systems to function optimally, and the immune system is no exception. Movement and more specifically exercise actually raises your white blood cell count. Exercising also keeps you from developing other preventable diseases like diabetes and heart disease allowing your immune system to function at the highest level because it doesn’t have to battle against those chronic conditions. Exercise also increases your body temperature and an elevated temperature reduces bacterial growth on your skin.
7. Don’t Exercise Too Much
What? You just told me to avoid being sedentary, and now you’re telling me to not work out too much? That’s right too much INTENSE exercise lowers your immune system and actually makes you more susceptible to illness. Life is about balance and so is training. Too little training you get sick, too much training you get sick, what you want is just the right amount of strength, high-intensity conditioning, low-intensity conditioning, mobility, plyometrics, stretching, and prehab exercises. If you are confused don’t be it’s literally what we do at Live Free CrossFit. Our Professional Coaches take great effort and time in constructing our monthly programming and take all of these factors into account.
We are constantly at war with bacteria, viruses, and disease. It’s time we arm ourselves as best possible by controlling what we can. Being educated, getting good sleep, eating healthy, and exercising smart will allow you to have the best chance possible, so stop living scared and start living free.