In these uncertain times, creating healthy new habits can have both physical and psychological benefits.  One new habit we’re focused on at New Jersey Bariatric Center is keeping our immune system in tip-top shape to stay healthy and speed up healing from sickness or injury.  The immune system is a complex network of cells that helps to defend the body against illness and disease. Taking the necessary steps to ward off foreign invaders such as viruses, harmful bacteria and other germs are essential. The tips below can help keep your immune system functioning optimally.

 

Get enough Sleep 

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do to keep your immune system at its best. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night with children and adolescents requiring between 8.5-11 hours. Try to stick to a sleep routine – go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time everyday. Avoid “sleeping in” too often which can make falling asleep in the evening difficult. And, try simple breathing exercises to promote a restful sleep. Avoid screens and stressful stimuli close to bedtime and try not to eat within 2 hours of lying down. This gives your body time to digest food before resting for the night and some find that eating right before bed can make symptoms of GERD or heartburn worse. 

Eat a Nutrient Dense Diet 

A nutrient dense diet can enhance your body’s ability to defend itself against illness. General advice for the bariatric community is to stay well hydrated and include adequate protein (60-80 grams for women, 80-100 grams for men), fiber, veggies and healthy fats in your diet. In times of stress, it can be tempting to overindulge in our favorite comfort foods and late night snacks. A helpful tip I follow is the 90/10 rule. Try to make sure that 90% of the food you eat is nutritious. Then allow yourself a small “treat”, aka the 10%. This approach makes sure you’re reaching the recommended daily values of protein, fiber and more but it also allows you to maintain a healthy relationship with food. Check out our post on eating well on a budget or when options at the grocery store are limited. 

Find Ways to De-Stress 

Stress can wear down our bodies and weaken our immune systems. Experts contend the best way to move forward with our lives is to process stressful feelings in a way that promotes health and healing. Left unchecked, chronic stress can wreak havoc on our health, lives and the lives of those around us. Some ways to manage stress include exercise, spending time outdoors, limiting exposure to the news or other stressful stimuli, deep breathing, meditation, chatting with a supportive friend or family member, indulging in some at-home pampering or seeking help from a therapist or physician. 

Keeping Up with Supplements: 

In a perfect world, a perfect diet would provide us all with exactly the right amounts and types of nutrients our bodies need for perfect health. But if your reality looks anything like mine, we often need to supplement with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to fill nutritional voids. This is particularly true for post-operative bariatric patients who may have limited capacity to absorb certain nutrients. At New Jersey Bariatric Center, we always recommend post-operative patients take a complete multivitamin like Celebrate Vitamins, which meet the guidelines from the American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, to help prevent any potential nutrient gaps. Now more than ever, it’s essential to keep up with the post-op bariatric vitamin routine to help boost immunity. In addition, be sure to follow the recommendations of your doctor and dietitian regarding any additional supplements you should be taking. 

In addition to taking steps to boost your immunity, proper hand washing and sanitizing of electronics can go a long way in keeping germs away. When shopping for groceries, wipe down carts or basket handles and thoroughly rinse all produce before consuming. Be sure to follow your local government’s rules on social distancing and wear the appropriate face covers and gloves in public places. 

References:

National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2020, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

4-7-8 breathing: How it works, benefits, and uses. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324417

Chronic stress: Symptoms, health effects, and how to manage it. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323324