Thursday, April 9, 2020

Coping With COVID-19: Healthy Living Information to Support You Through the Global Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel 2019 coronavirus) has changed the world. The health and safety of our readers and everyone around the world is at the forefront of our minds. And we know right now—maybe more than ever—health and wellness occupies a place of prominence in yours.
At Ask The Scientists, we will continue to provide you with the accurate, science-based information about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle you need right now. We believe information and understanding is power—to maintain your health, to keep your family healthy, to battle fear with truth.

That’s why below you’ll find collected stories about topics of utmost importance—immunity, mental health, self-care, and healthy habits at home. We aren’t experts on the novel coronavirus, so there are no specifics about symptoms or the virus’ spread. But you’ll also find a guide to sourcing trustworthy, scientific information about COVID-19 and the ever-evolving global pandemic.

And if you need an answer to a question about health, wellness, nutrition, or healthy living, we’re here, in this with you. We’ll be doing what we always do—arming you with quality, science-based information to help you continue living your life in these uncertain times.
If you don’t find an answer or the information you’re looking for, all you have to do is ask. Reach out through the site or on our Facebook page.

Understand More About Your Immune Health

Practicing Self-Care and Attending to Your Mental Health

Thriving at Home

Your Guide to Quality Sources of Coronavirus-Specific Information

What you didn’t find in the links above was specific information about COVID-19. We aren’t experts in epidemiology, virology, or infectious disease. But we can point you to quality sources about symptoms, how the virus spreads, case numbers, and more. And remember that the information you put in your brain is as important right now as the food you put in your body.
Here are tips for finding trustworthy sources of coronavirus information and links to those sites:
  • The World Health Organization is the first place to look for global COVID-19 information.
  • National government health departments (like the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health in the U.S.) will have more specific information about what’s happening in your country.
  • Local government health department sites have resources that will be most applicable to the situation unfolding around you.
  • For the latest research, turn to reputable scientific journals, like Nature Reviews Immunology, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Seek out more general coronavirus information from recognized experts. This includes places like the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, and academic sites from credible universities around the world.
  • Also turn to the and Worldometers coronavirus pages for solid statistics and information.
  • Entertain and inform yourself by turning to blogs from brands and authors you can trust. Maybe check out What’s Up USANA? for more lifestyle tips about working from home and much more.
What you don’t want to do is constantly scroll through your social media feeds, plucking out the most sensational tidbits being posted. Evaluate the sources of any information popping up on your Facebook or Twitter feeds. Or slim down your information diet to only include trusted sources like the ones listed above. Managing your mental health might even mean taking a break from the deluge of news about the global pandemic.
When you’re ready for more information, we’ll help you find the best source. And if you’re curious about your immune system, eating to help support your immune health, or healthy habits at home, we’ll be here for you. Come back to Ask the Scientists for more immunity, overall wellness, nutrition, and healthy living content you can trust and act on to help you maintain your health.

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Simple Habits to Build Your Immune System and Overall Health

Build Your Immunity with Simple Immune Boosting Habits

You can’t hide from all the germs. Theoretically, you could spend a lot of time and money sanitizing your whole life. But where’s the fun in that? Also, it’s unnecessary. Your body can protect itself—that’s what the immune system does. So, build your immunity instead of obsessing over avoiding germs. Luckily, simple immune boosting habits easily mesh with your healthy lifestyle.
And you don’t need anything special to support your immune health. Healthy living and tweaks to your lifestyle are enough to help build your immunity.

A lot of these immune boosting habits double as generally helpful healthy behaviors. That means you can earn a lot of health benefits out of these simple changes to your life. So, you’ll obtain a lot more out of these actions than any efforts to sterilize your entire life.

Sleep Your Way to a Healthy Immune System

When you’re tired, so is your immune system. This puts you at risk for coming down with whatever’s going around. Tucking in for enough high-quality sleep is a dream for you, and your immune health.
Sleep allows your body—including the parts of your immune system—to rest, repair, and refresh. This nightly renewal helps build your immunity. Need proof? A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a link between adequate sleep and immune function.

Researchers identified the eight-hour mark as an important line of demarcation. Less than eight hours of sleep was tied to a three-fold increase in the likelihood of catching the common cold. Other research supports this conclusion, showing how immune-cell production can be hampered by sleep deprivation.

One simple immune boosting habit is making the time for at least eight hours of quality sleep. That could mean setting a bedtime alarm, or giving yourself deadlines for nighttime activities. And remember to work your way up to your goal. It’s probably not sustainable to go from six hours to eight immediately. But you can work your way up in smaller, 15-minute increments.

Use Moderate Exercise to Build Your Immunity

Exercise is great for many things, including weight management and stress management. But the relationship between working out and immune function is slightly more complicated.
Researchers have struggled to lay out all the details involved in exercise’s impact on immunity. That’s not surprising. There are complex reactions happening—especially with strenuous exercise.
One thing is clear, though: moderate exercise is beneficial for your immune system. One study says it “seems to exert a protective effect.” Being in better shape helps with overall health, so your immune system benefits, too. And the movement aids blood flow and helps immune cells migrate throughout your body.

You don’t have to overdo it, though. And maybe you don’t really want to, given some of the research about strenuous exercise and immunity (it may, at least temporarily, dampen the immune system). Just getting moderate exercise—like a 30-minute walk every day—is enough. Also, it’s an immune boosting habit you can fit into your life without too much extra effort.

Help Your Immune System with Good Hygiene

You’re frequently told to wash your hands. And it’s for good reason. This tip doesn’t build your immunity or directly boost your immune system. But it will help you stay healthy, so it’s worth mentioning.

A consistent (not obsessive) hand-washing habit helps you limit your exposure to certain germs. It rinses away the potential pathogens that get on your hands. That keeps them from landing in airways, eyes, or other bodily entrance points. And it keeps you healthy.

The Most Relaxing Immune Boosting Habits

Normal, everyday stress—the kind of minor, daily annoyances that add up—is enough to throw your life out of whack. You probably already know how stress impacts your weight, sleep, and overall wellbeing. But it also can wreak havoc on your immune function.

Your hormones are to blame. That’s because stress hormones negatively impact many parts of your immune system. These hormones hamper the production of antibodies (proteins that mark invaders) and other immune cells. Stress has even been shown to give latent viral infections new life.
Unless you go to great lengths, you can’t totally avoid stress. So, you must learn to manage it. And it’s not easy. The phrase “just relax” is one of the least helpful things imaginable. Good thing other stress-management techniques are simple, and do work, though.
Try any of these approaches that sound nice to you:
  • Get a massage
  • Take a walk out in nature—the outside part is important
  • Develop and practice a self-care routine, like hygge
  • Meditate or do some deep breathing
  • Socialize with friends and family
  • Prioritize free time by blocking out your calendar for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Laugh (it really might be the best medicine)

Pets Can Perk Up Your Immune Health

Your pets are more than cuddly, cute, and loving. They’re beneficial to your health in many ways. And building immunity is definitely one of them.

Pets are great for melting stress away and helping you get moderate exercise. You’ve already heard about how exercise and stress management are immune boosting habits. But your pets can do more for your immunity—and it’s because they can be kind of gross.

That’s right. The microbes your pets naturally have or bring into your house aren’t all bad. They help build your immunity through exposure, which—as you’ll learn below—can be more helpful than harmful.

Researchers have found that infants who grow up around animals are less likely to develop allergies. And one study even showed that petting a live dog can increase an important immune-system protein—immunoglobulin A. So, give your pet some extra attention and affection for all the help they give your immunity.

Avoid Overindulging in Alcohol and Stop Smoking

Sometimes building immunity means moderating or ditching certain habits. Two you hear about in discussions of overall healthy habits also impact your immune health—smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Both impair important barriers that help protect you from potential pathogens. Smoking impacts your nose and mouth, damaging the linings that help guard your airways from germs. Alcohol also strips away the lining of your mouth and throat. This leaves you vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
So, if you’re going to drink, do it in moderation. But there’s no moderation when it comes to smoking. Quitting is the best option for your immunity—and your overall health.

Be Adventurous

Your immune system adapts to your life. It learns from the bacteria, viruses, and other microbes you encounter. And you come out with better immune protection.

That’s why the sterile approach to life doesn’t help build your immunity. It’s OK to take proper precautions. You don’t want to intentionally expose yourself to harmful bacteria or viruses. But being adventurous—going outside, eating fermented foods, and experiencing life—is one of the best immune boosting habits you can have.

Living your life helps your adaptive immunity (the part of your immunity that catalogs the microbes it encounters). It builds up your immunity memory bank and primes your immune system to protect you.

Make the Small Changes to Help Your Immune Health

Your immune system is always on alert. Its whole job is to keep you healthy. So, treat it right by incorporating some of these simple immune boosting habits into your life. You’ll build your immunity, and enhance your overall health, too.