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8 Keys to Building Strong Immunity

By Mary Serphos, CHC, LCSW Certified Health Coach, Licensed Psychotherapist

Photo by Giordano Ciampini

  1. Eat Fresh Greens: When you crave greens daily you know you’re in a good place. Steamed chard or kale or arugula is a treat with some quinoa and mild crumbled cheese. Add an apple and make green juice with spinach, cucumber and celery your go-to drink. Greens detoxify and boost lung function which is an important part of helping combat viruses and colds. 

  2. Let Go of Should’s: And take time for pleasure throughout the day. Allow any shame, guilt, and “shoulds” (i.e. “I should be cleaning up the house”) release as much as possible and enjoy some free time every day to escape into nature, hang out with friends or do what you love. These fleeting moments of playfulness are the perfect recipe to help brighten one’s overall outlook on life and in turn enhance immune function.

  3. Drink Mineralized Water: Luckily the water in Guanacaste is highly mineralized. If you want to avoid the chlorine and other chemicals, drink filtered water when possible and then add back the minerals by adding a pinch of good quality sea salt in each glass.

  4. Daily Meditation: Make freestyle meditation a small but important part of your day. Drop in where-ever, however, whenever. Some people like to get up at 5 and practice but for those who would rather catch a few more zzz’s, carve some time to step away from your busy life and take even just 5 minutes to close your eyes and practice. The key word is practice- there is no “perfect” meditation. Even long- time meditators deal with “busy mind syndrome.” Allow all the thoughts to come up and just for this moment, let them go. Repeated research suggests that mindfulness meditation can benefit health and performance by reducing blood pressure, improving brain function and enhancing immune function.

  5. Daily Vitamin C from Fresh Fruit: 1/2 a mango or 1/4 pineapple in the morning a papaya or orange as a mid-day snack and a squeeze of lemon in water with meals hits the spot and each one alone gives a plentiful shot of of vitamin C.

  6. Supplements: Take “Just Enough” Supplements. Don’t overdo supplements. People are curious about which vitamins, mineral and herbs supplements are best. Here’s my advice: take as natural a supplement as possible, preferably food based rather than chemical based and look for brands that don’t overload the RDA percentage. For example I used to take a supplement with an excessive amount of B12 thinking that it would be good for my system. It wasn’t and it totally overwhelmed my liver. More isn’t better. The most important tip about supplementation is to rotate unless you are taking a specific supplement to support a medical condition such as anemia or for digestive support.

  7. Massage, Yoga and Movement: These 3 forms of self-care are not luxuries, rather they are true immune boosting necessities. Take time to walk, hike, bike, run, dance, workout or play everyday. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, just make it enjoyable. Yoga can be what you want it to be, a workout, a sweet way to stretch and turn inward or a completely relaxing and restorative way to escape. And massage will get out the kinks, help circulation and lymph which supports immunity and lying on a table or sitting in a chair and receiving touch is a great way to elevate your mood, your outlook and ultimately, your energy.

Nap 4 Times a Week: Even a quick 15 minute nap does the trick. A short nap during the early to mid-afternoon refreshes the brain, and does wonders in terms of how we relate to others, not to mention ourselves. And when our mood is better, we have more energy which naturally boosts our immune function. Studies have shown that the healthiest cultures close shop and siesta in the middle of the day. And Costa Rica is fortunately, believes in this concept- although things are changing and more of us work straight until dark. If you work in an office and can pull it off, set your alarm and take what is called a 'caffeine nap', where you have some coffee and right away, catch 20 minutes of shut-eye. The caffeine circulates through your body and after about 20 minutes, it helps work to clear  adenosine, a sleep-inducing chemical. If napping is not an option, take a walk outside and eat a balanced snack such as dried fruit and nuts to boost energy.


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