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Daily Defense

Written by Taylor Roberts

Immune system boosters
Photo by Jacqueline Pilar

As we return to the social scene, immunity is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. To understand which practices keep your body’s defenses strong and how to strengthen our immune systems from a holistic perspective, I spoke with Dr. Sarah Murphy, an award-winning naturopathic doctor at Zuma Wellness.

Comprehending our Immune System

The immune system is connected to every aspect of our body and health, considering it comprises all of the tissues, organs, and diverse immune cells. Responsible for both detecting and combating infections and toxic invaders, the goal is a fully optimized system. Dr. Murphy explains that the majority of people face a weakened system from continual exposure to stress, poor nutrition, and a lack of exercise and hence at risk for more severe and elongated illness.

Food as Immunity Fuel

When our immune system is under attack, our body taps into energy and nutrient stores. Therefore, it is essential that we fuel and equip our bodies with the proper nutrients, such as vitamin C, zinc, glutathione, and bioflavonoids. Consider prioritizing citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, and healthy fats on your plate. Dr. Murphy especially preaches the value of ginger, which has been backed as an immunity booster by traditional medicine and modern research. Ginger’s antimicrobial benefits help combat infections, free radicals, and inflammation. In case you had forgotten, Dr. Murphy reminds us that food can be immunity fuel, and “foods like sugar and junk food lower immunity.”

Daily Habits for Defense

Stress has a detrimental effect on our immune system’s strength. Although easier said than done, Dr. Murphy’s #1 tip is to lower stress levels in an effort to improve your immunity from within. She shares, “Relaxation activities like meditation can help. Positive thinking also benefits the immune system, so practice gratitude.” Paired with proper sleep and exercise, cortisol levels and blood flow are often more effective than any prescription. For circulation, Dr. Murphy is a huge proponent of hydrotherapy, which involves alternating between hot and cold water baths. Used in naturopathic medicine for centuries, hydrotherapy has been studied and shown to boost immune system function because it enhances white blood cell counts and blood flow.

Stocking Your Shelves

Apart from stocking your pantry, stocking your shelves with natural, high-quality supplements can boost your immune system. Vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and quercetin have all been especially popular and for a good reason. It is important to remember that these vitamins and minerals are to supplement these nutrients, not replace a balanced, rich diet. When browsing the health-store aisles, select supplements that have been tested by a third-party company, rather than the FDA. Product quality and potency can be reviewed and indicated by a Certificate of Analysis (COA) label from these third-parties.

Schedule a Service

Outside of your own at-home routine, in-office services and treatments also have dramatic immune-boosting benefits. Dr. Murphy notes regenerative therapies like IV vitamin therapy, acupuncture, prolotherapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and hyperbaric oxygen as her best prescriptions for her patients. In addition to hydrotherapy, all of these treatments are offered at her office in Malibu, California.

Immunity Myth Busters

Filtering through health myths is often the biggest obstacle to finding your ideal routine and peak well-being. Dr. Murphy acknowledges the rumor that hand sanitizer is superior to hand washing. While we are constantly surrounded by bottles of hand sanitizer on every store entrance and checkout counter, Dr. Murphy debunks this and emphasizes the value of properly washing your hands with soap. She shares, “If you have water and soap available, wash your hands. Hand sanitizer should only be used as a second choice when you can’t wash your hands.”

Preventive and Proactive

Looking forward to our post-pandemic society, Dr. Murphy discusses what the new, enhanced focus on immunity could look like, “I’m hopeful that a positive outcome out of all of this is that people are motivated to take better care of themselves. Preventive and proactive health measures such as healthy nutrition are key. Our nation’s most common chronic illnesses would be drastically lowered if we chose to improve our society’s nutrition and lifestyle standards. Our population could be far healthier than we are currently. This would have a multitude of positive benefits—not only reducing the severity of pandemics, but also lowering healthcare costs, reducing sick leaves in the workforce, and creating a culture of people that feel overall better and happier.”

While there are endless ways to “be healthy,” fortifying our immune system is truly the best benefactor of optimized health. Shortening and weakening an illness should be two of our main goals. Afterall, with our busy schedules and long bucket lists, there is no time to waste on not feeling our best.

Health Helpers

Alo workout set

Whether you’re dabbling in meditation or breaking a sweat, making time to exercise works wonders on your immune system. Look chic while working out in this breathable Alo Airlift Excite Bra and High-waist 4 Pocket Utility Leggings in Woodrose.

Shinya Lab Vital Enzymes

Promote healthy digestion and nutrient absorption with the SHINYALab Vital Enzymes, which are made with Japanese grains and seeds that stimulate immunity.

APL Sneakers

Venture out for a jog in these sleek and supportive APL TechLoom Wave Sneakers. High-elastic material allows for flexibility while a durable rubber sole acts as a gentle crash pad.

Juice Ranch Santa Barbara

Packed with vitamin C, ginger, oil of oregano, and cayenne pepper, the Juice Ranch Immunity Please is the perfect blend to toss back when you’re feeling under the weather.

—Kara Thompson


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