Setting Yourself Up for Sustained Health and Stronger Immunity in 2021

by Dr. Susan Tanner, MD

This has been a memorable year.  Perhaps these memories are not good ones. . . some of us have lost family and friends to a novel virus.  Others have suffered the loss of work, home, and/or resources.  Life events, such as weddings and funerals, meeting friends for coffee or dinner, have all changed.  Nevertheless, we have, at times, seen humankind at its best with people stepping in to help, volunteer, and donate time and resources to others in need.  We have all also learned to be flexible, to acquire new skills, and to appreciate some of what we so easily took for granted in our day-to-day existence prior to March of 2020. The ability to run an errand without a face covering seems like a distant memory for most of us.

In this last article of 2020, rather than focusing on one single topic, I decided to make a top 10 list, comprised of suggestions to take into 2021 to help improve health and to continue strengthening your immune system for the months ahead.  Some of these are likely things you may already be doing, but if these can all become daily habits, we will be the better for it and will have the resilience and fortitude to make a difference for others as well.  These are not the usual New Year’s resolutions, mind you, but, rather, a reframing of our day to day in some ways you may not have thought of before.

Top 10 Suggestions for Improving Your Health in 2021:

1. Eat clean food and not in excess.  By this I mean avoid the common traps of some comfort foods, such as sugar, alcohol, and fast foods.  Eat less but eat better.  Fruits, veggies, healthy protein sources for meat and eggs. If you have enough, then consider donating some to the food banks which have run near empty now.  Include nutritional supplementation in the ways mentioned in previous articles to support your health. Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Zinc, Quercetin, high-quality probiotics, and NAC should top the list for COVID-19 protection and recovery.

2. Drink clean water. In place of alternative beverages make an effort to drink half your body weight in ounces of filtered, non-chlorinated water.  Avoid plastic, non-recyclable bottles to decrease the landfills and demand for petroleum by-products. This will also reduce the total body load on your system of PCBs, chemicals in plastics, that accumulate in body tissues.

3. Breathe clean air. In the winter months, humidity is not as much of a problem, but moisture or water intrusion will lead to mold growth regardless of the season. Sometimes just turning on the central heat liberates dust and mold spores lying dormant from last year and induces reactions and illness for those living in a home. If you have allergies, the use of a HEPA air filter will help, especially in the bedroom.  Consider purchasing a fogging unit from Microbalance along with the EC3 Mold Solution.  This is a nontoxic way to clear the air of mold spores and potentially other infectious viruses and bacteria. Thus, it is a good way to do the double duty of both decreasing the mold load and the potential for infections inside your home.

4. Move your body. Aim for some form of daily exercise.  The call for social distancing and isolation has led to even more sedentary lifestyles in a culture that has already been such.  If you do not have indoor exercise equipment, consider investing in something, be it an elliptical, a bike, or a treadmill.  If you don’t have room for a gym in your house, set up a corner that is devoted to fitness.  There are so many apps now that can be streamed on your TV, computer, or even your phone. Some personal trainers are working via zoom.  Remember, hours of sitting is as unhealthy as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Do what you can, but make the commitment to yourself to do something to get your blood flowing daily.

5. Sleep well. Practice good sleep hygiene. Keep the room where you sleep dark and cool, no blue lights from TV or computers or phones.  Keep plug-in devices away from the head of the bed. Track your sleep with a device or app to see if you are truly getting restorative rest.

6. Be curious. Whether politics, medicine, or a new subject, expand your horizons. Take on viewpoints that do not align with your own. See if you can understand with empathy why others may think or believe as they do. You don’t have to agree with it but understanding how and why helps with mind expansion–never a bad thing, especially now while we are so socially distanced.

7. Volunteer if you are able. That can be online reading to students, (there is a great program sponsored by the Rotary Club), sewing masks, or delivering food to the needy. Recognition is not necessary but the personal satisfaction of giving is wonderful for the mind and attitude. One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering right now is how it brings us closer to others and makes us feel valuable and meaningful. It could be the pick-me-up your 2020 needs to lead you into the new year.

8. Continue to stay safe with social distancing, masking up when going into public places, and frequent handwashing. The tendency to let down our guard after months of COVID is tempting.  We are, unfortunately, still seeing unprecedented levels of infection of this virus. We all still have to continue to work together to keep each other safe. If you are sick or have had a known exposure to someone with the virus, stay home, get tested, and stop the spread as much as possible.

9. Get outdoors. Ground yourself in nature whenever possible. This can be combined with exercise in some settings while still practicing Number 8. In order for vitamin D to get converted to its active form, our bodies need sunlight. Get outside to take in the sun, breathe in the fresh air, and to enjoy the world around you. One Harvard Health study of more than 1,000 adults, for instance, found that those who got outside and walked at least 20 minutes a day (exercise and being outside), five days a week reported 43% fewer sick days than their less active counterparts. Even when the active people got sick, it wasn’t as severe or as long-lasting.

10. Be kind.  In the  paraphrased words of John Wesley, “Do all the good that you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” The Mayo Clinic even reports that practicing loving kindness has the following health benefits: reduced pain and tension from migraines; reduced symptoms of depression; and possible slowing of the the aging process. Studies have found that women who practice loving kindness meditation have longer telomeres, which are like little end-caps on your DNA. Shorter telomeres have been associated with faster aging.

All of us at Sinusitis Wellness wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy new year. Cheers to a brighter 2021!

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