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    3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

    While maintaining a high-functioning immune system is always important, nowadays, it really seems to take on an added level of importance. A global pandemic is a scary event to deal with, and having a strong immune system––along with socially distancing and wearing a mask––is your best line of defense.
    Of course, knowing exactly how to give your immune system the boost it needs is a little more complicated than putting back a couple glasses of OJ––but that’s a start. While staying active and fit is extremely helpful, you can still strengthen your immunity without breaking a sweat––or even opening your eyes, for that matter. Begin with incorporating these three simple changes into your life to give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you healthy and safe, during flu season and beyond.
    Get Plenty of Sleep
    Don’t be this guy. Shutterstock
    16 hours should be more than enough time to complete everything you need to do in a single day. Those other eight hours? Your body needs those for rest and recovery. Not only does getting a full eight hours of sleep help you feel clear and focused for the next day, but it also gives your immune system time to reboot and recharge. Countless studies have correlated sleep and improved immune function.
    In one such study, the scientists were able to focus on T-cells––which contribute to the body’s immune response by identifying and directly killing infected host cells, as well as activating other immune cells in the process. The scientists found that getting sleep was directly linked with improved T-cell function. 
    “Our findings show that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of T cell responses, which is especially relevant in light of the high prevalence of sleep disorders and conditions characterized by impaired sleep, such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work,” said study co-author Luciana Besedovsky.
    While everyone is a little different, most scientists suggest getting between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. But don’t overdo it either, as oversleeping has been proven to do more harm than good.

    Eat a Colorful Diet
    Opt for a colorful diet. Shutterstock
    If you find yourself waiting in line at the fast food drive-thru on a regular basis, you should probably reconsider your dietary choices. It may be a cliché, but it’s accurate: “You are what you eat”. So if you are filling your gut with a double cheeseburger, large fries and chocolate shake, the only thing you are satisfying is your taste buds.
    While you can always splurge for the occasional burger, pizza or hot wings––you need to keep it in moderation. Give your immune system the tools it needs to fight infection by ensuring your diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables––specifically immune-boosting foods like citrus, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger and leafy greens.
    As a simple rule of thumb, eat a colorful diet. Vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables are generally the richest in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
    Take Vitamins to Help Your Immune System
    Vitamins and supplements are a good way to avoid deficiencies. Shutterstock
    While its always best to get your nutrients and vitamins from the food you eat, taking vitamins and supplements is certainly not a bad idea. While there is no magic pill or vitamin that’s proven to totally protect you from getting sick, they help in areas where your diet may be lacking.
    For example, micronutrient deficiencies can have a negative impact on your immune response. And with our busy lives, you’re probably not paying too much attention to which micronutrients you might be skimping out on. To cover your bases, start by taking a daily multivitamin that will contain trace amounts of most micronutrients.
    Additionally, three immune-boosting vitamins worth taking are vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc. While everyone knows about the benefits of vitamin C in fighting infection, it’s also important to recognize the role vitamin D and Zinc play.
    While we normally get our Vitamin D from the sun, that’s harder to do during winter. And with studies showing that  low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a greater risk of developing respiratory conditions, a vitamin D supplement is a good idea. Zinc is another great immune fighter and studies have shown that increased concentrations of zinc can inhibit the replication of viruses.
    Lastly, remember that taking a super dose of any one vitamin will not give you “super-immunity.” Instead, focus on avoiding nutrient deficiencies in any one area, eating healthy and getting plenty of Zs.

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    Laird Hamilton and Joe Rogan on Staying Fit at Any Age

    As you get older, general fitness seems to be one of the first things to slip. Perhaps you are too busy, too tired, too stressed––the list of excuses goes on. However, one excuse that’s simply not true is that you are too old.
    While nobody said getting older is easy––especially when it comes to maintaining fitness––there are countless examples of older athletes who defy their age and continue performing at a high level. Two prime examples are Laird Hamilton and Joe Rogan. While both men are in their 50s, training and fitness remain at the forefront of their focus.
    In this 10-minute video, the two discuss the importance of staying fit as you get older, tips for staying motivated, and why saying that you’re “too old to workout” is not true.

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    Should You Rethink How You Drink?

    Chances are, BC (before coronavirus) you drank mostly with a nice dinner alongside friends. Maybe you overdid it on game day, but taking a few days off to reset after was no biggie. AC, we’ve all had more time on our hands. We crave routine and loathe boredom, so we bookend the workday at home with a special cocktail or craft beer—a reminder of what joy tastes like. But eight months into our new normal, it’s time to ask the hard question: Do you really want to drink tonight?

    What Is Healthy Drinking?
    Society has long viewed alcohol consumption in black and white, says psychologist Kevin Gilliland, an expert on addiction. At the turn of the 20th century, drinking was widely acceptable; then, it was blamed for all of America’s problems and outlawed in the ’20s. In the ’50s and ’60s, men were expected to drink Mad Men-style and those who struggled often dealt with shame—there’s a reason it was called Alcoholics “Anonymous.” Even today, we feel the need to go dry an entire month to tip the scale into “healthy” territory.
    While AA is proven to be effective for many people looking to abstain, it doesn’t provide tools for moderation. Meanwhile, researchers continue to debate the potential health benefits of moderate drinking—three drinks a night is almost certainly too much, but a drink or two might help us live longer. Either way, it’s intuitive that alcohol is like junk food: You know it’s not explicitly good, but imbibing provides a mental release and a flash of pleasure. When we start to ask alcohol to relieve stress, quiet anxiety, or numb the chaos, our relationship needs to be reevaluated, says Gilliland. A healthy relationship with alcohol is one where it brings positive feelings and you can respect boundaries you’ve set. If that sounds any alarms, consider pumping the breaks.

    The Upside of Scaling Down
    A nightcap helps you fall asleep faster, but prevents you from entering a deep sleep, explains Abe Malkin, M.D., co-founder of teletherapy platform Monument. And, while alcohol helps you feel calmer in the moment, your neurochemicals swing back in the other direction as soon as you’re sober—so drinking actually creates a larger spike in anxiety, Malkin adds. Booze dehydrates and messes with your gut. Without it, you’ll have more endurance and energy for workouts, and your body will better absorb nutrients.
    Rasāsvāda La Vie En Rose Courtesy Image
    Baby Steps to Cutting Back
    “People don’t need to hit rock bottom in order to make healthier life choices,” Malkin points out. Here’s how to start.
    Set intentions. Limit your number of drinks per night (max 3), or the number of nights you drink by 1 or 2. Consider subbing in non-alcoholic bevs like Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA orLagunitas Hoppy Refresher.
    Change your scenery. Having a few beers while you binge The Sopranos every night creates a Pavlovian response. To break the connection, have a beer on the porch, then watch TV in bed. This will make your consumption more thoughtful, Gilliland says.
    Tweak your hobbies. You perfected your home-bartending skills. Now, conquer mocktails. Zero-proof spirits like Rasāsvāda mimic the botanical quality of liquor and can even provide health benefits in some cases.
    Move more. Book your usual drinking hour with an activity that releases endorphins, like exercise. Debrief with your partner on a walk instead of over wine, and trade Zoom happy hours for group Peloton rides.
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    How to Prepare for Flu Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    2020 may have upended every aspect of normalcy we both love and loathe, but one thing remains the same: With the fall comes cold and flu season. And this year may be worse than ever if cases of the flu and COVID-19 both surge, creating what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly warned will be the potential for a “twindemic.”
    Luckily, there are precautions each of us can take to minimize the chances of getting sick, with either the flu or COVID-19, and increase the chances of recovering faster if we’re unlucky enough to catch one of the many viruses that’ll be swarming in just a month or two.
    “You can control your own destiny by keeping your immune function strong so that should you become exposed to a viral pathogen, your body is poised to defend itself,” says Charles Elder, M.D., primary care internist and physician lead for the complementary and integrative medicine program at Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

    8 Ways to Prepare for Flu Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    1. Get Your Flu Shot
    The influenza vaccine lowers your risk of getting the flu by 40 to 60 percent on any given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (That’s assuming the circulating viruses match the strains they crafted the formula for.)
    Yet only 45 percent of people over the age of 18 got their shot in 2018/19—and most of those numbers were in people above 50, reports the CDC.
    Part of the reason is access. Another is skepticism: People don’t think vaccines are safe (they are, all our experts assure). And a huge part is because most people don’t think a 40 to 60 percent chance of protection sounds very high, so getting the shot isn’t worth the effort.

    “Even though it’s not 100-percent effective at preventing the flu, some protection is better than none,” says Sandra Kesh, M.D., deputy medical director and infectious disease specialist at Westmed Medical Group in Westchester, NY.
    For starters, the vaccine lowers your chances of getting influenza by roughly half. “It’s important to remember the flu is a formidable infection in its own right. Influenza can cause inflammation of the lungs, heart, brain, and other organs, leading to respiratory failure, encephalitis, heart failure, sepsis, and death, in the worst cases,” Kesh explains.
    At the very least, it knocks you into a deep hole of snot, aches, and pure misery for at least a week, if not longer.
    What’s more, lowering your chances of getting influenza lowers your chances of getting everything from a nasty cold to the novel coronavirus itself. “Anytime your body is infected with a virus, there’s the potential for you to be more vulnerable to other infections, including COVID-19,” Kesh explains.
    To top it off, if you do get the flu despite having got the vaccine, that shot lowers the chances of you developing complications from the virus, including things like pneumonia.

    Everyone should get the flu vaccine unless your doctor advises you not to, Elder adds (the main exception being if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to the shot in the past). Anyone who’s pregnant, very old (65+), or very young (between 6 months and 5 years old) should absolutely get the shot.
    And the sooner the better—it takes about two weeks to build antibodies from the shot and influenza activity in the U.S. starts circulating in November, so get your shot by the end of October at the latest, adds Elder.
    Talk to your employer about if they’re offering any kind of vaccine program, even out of the office, like the CDC director is currently encouraging companies to do. But you can also schedule your shot at a local pharmacy, doctor’s office, and even in some schools.
    2. Keep Exercising—but Don’t Go too Hard
    Working out regularly (at a moderate intensity) improves your immune defense and lowers your risk of getting sick, reports a 2019 review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science. In fact, a single workout boosts your immune fortification. Try to get your heart rate up slightly for at least 30 minutes a day, even just for a walk.
    To bolster your immune system to provide a strong defense against the flu and COVID-19, cut cut back on the HIIT and two-a-days for the season: The same analysis points out that an athlete’s at a much higher risk of getting sick during periods of intense training and competition. “Exercise should remove stress from, not create stress for, the physiology,” Elder adds.
    3. Keep Stress Under Control
    “High levels of stress and anxiety can make us more vulnerable to viral infections,” Elder points out. Meditation and mindfulness are two of the best-known stress reducers. If you don’t already have a regular practice, start with this 10-Minute Meditation Session for Beginners.

    Even small actions to keep a positive mindset can help keep stress from getting to you, adds Nicole Avena, P.hD., visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University. Her go-to: When a situation is exhausting or annoying, try and list three good things about it. Maybe you had to take off work to help your brother-in-law move again, but at least it made your partner happy, you got a workout in, and you helped someone.
    4. Up Your Produce Intake
    “Micronutrient deficiencies can have an impact on how well your body is able to defend against colds and flu,” says Avena. “Food in general can be your best ally when it comes to keeping your immune system strong and staying healthy.”
    We don’t have definitive data on which vitamins and minerals affect your immune system most, but aiming to focus on getting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in a day will up your fortification. Avena adds that eating foods rich in prebiotics (that’s garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples, flaxseed, and seaweed) can help maintain a healthy gut environment which is crucial to health, while antioxidants (walnuts, pecans, salmon, berries, leafy greens, ginger, and herbs) fight against oxidative stress that can damage immune cells.
    Fresh produce is always best, but if that isn’t available for you, a multivitamin can help deliver crucial micronutrients. (Avena likes clean brands Vitafusion and Frunutta.)
    5. Spice It Up
    “Many common household spices possess immunomodulatory properties, which help support your immune system,” Elder says. Largely, this follows the same reasoning as eating more whole foods and produce: Spices help to promote proper digestive function and are rich in antioxidants, helping to establish a strong and healthy immune system. Most also have their own beneficial features. Cumin and turmeric, for instance, have been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, Elder says. He advises including healthy spices—like cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger and fennel—in your daily diet.

    6. Sip on Warm, Sugar-free Drinks
    Staying hydrated is key to giving your organs all the necessary tools to fight off infections, like the flu and COVID-19, and keep you healthy. But come fall, trade cold beverages for warm ones: In addition to the latter being far more soothing (good for stress), Ayurvedic tradition—the indigenous healthcare system of India—follows that anything cold or sweet (especially both) will increase “kapha” dosha, which is the physiologic principle that promotes mucus promotion, Elder explains.
    Besides being uncomfortable, excess mucus in the respiratory tract is a sign of imbalance—things are starting to get off track. “It’s a sign we may be heading for, and are in a state more vulnerable to, trouble,” Elder adds.
    7. Get Strict About Sleep
    Proper sleep is one of the top immune boosters noted by all three experts. “Sleep is crucial to keeping your immune system healthy and restoring balance to your body overall—especially when the weather gets cold and the relaxation of summer comes to an end,” Avena explains.
    Aim for a consistent 7 to 8 hours a night, but if you wake up a lot in the night or are tired in the morning still, add another 30 to 60 minutes. “Quality counts and if you’re not getting a full, restful 7 to 8 hours, you’re not helping your immune health,” she adds.
    Also, try to go to bed early (10 p.m. is ideal) and wake up early—this syncs with your natural circadian rhythm, taking away the physiological stress that late nights can lead to, Elder adds.
    8. Wash Your Hands
    The daily hygiene of our pandemic lives is actually the recommended hygiene to prevent all viruses, including the cold and flu. Hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing are incredibly important if you don’t want to get sick this season with either the flu or COVID-19, Kesh reminds.
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    Clean Beauty Glossier Dupes

    Ohhhhhh Glossier. Never have I seen a cosmetics brand come out with such a force. I guess it helps when you’re founded by one of the biggest voices in the blogging space. If you didn’t know, Glossier was launched in 2010 by Into the Gloss founder Emily Weiss. For a new direct to consumer brand, […] More

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    What to Keep in Your Fridge for Gut Health

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    Primally Pure Deodorant Review [Is It Worth It?!]

    I am by nature a skeptic. I also run an online business that involves promotion of products and affiliate links. The combination of not trusting most things off the bat and seeing the dark side of influencer marketing means I pretty much dismiss any super popular trend I’m seeing people promoting on Instagram/blogs/Youtube. I understand […] More