Are you doing all you can to boost your body’s immune system? Every time you flip on your television there’s an update on the coronavirus. The unknown of new diseases can be scary, but experts say that the regular seasonal flu poses much more of a risk to Americans than the coronavirus.

It’s important to take the proper safety precautions, such as frequently washing your hands, covering your sneezes, and staying home if you feel ill. But all year around, you must also nurture your body. Rest, diet, exercise, and stress management all help equip your body to dodge diseases and recover faster if you do get sick. This is particularly crucial for older adults or anyone with a suppressed immune system.

No, nutrition, exercise and rest will not prevent flu. But these simple tips can help keep you in the strongest form possible.

Nosh on nutrients. Food can be good medicine, which is why it’s vital to consume dishes rich in vitamins and minerals. Many Americans are deficient in these essential nutrients either because of poor diet choices or not being educated on which foods can fuel your body.

Luckily, you don’t need to break the bank to purchase powerful, immune-boosting foods. The following items can be purchased for under $5 at any supermarket:

  • Turmeric: Inflammation is the body’s response to injury. It repairs damaged tissue and is an integral part of the healing process. But when it becomes chronic, it compromises your health. Turmeric contains a powerful compound known as curcumin, which works to decrease inflammation. It also promotes better digestion. Start by adding a few shakes to your daily tea, or try it on a fish dish or in a soup.
  • Citrus: Citrus fruits are chock-full of immune-boosting vitamin C, which can protect against cell damage, boost collagen production, and combat the common cold. Before you go reaching for a bottle of orange juice, check the label to make sure it’s made from 100% juice and doesn’t contain additional sugars or sugar substitutes. In fact, your best bet is to snack on whole fruit, as you’ll get the fiber, too. Leafy greens such as kale or broccoli are great sources of C, too.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt is packed with protein, probiotics, and minerals linked to enhance immune support such as potassium, vitamin B-2, B-12, selenium, and zinc. Opt for low-sugar options (plain is best) without artificial additives.

Stop stressing. While it’s tempting to get triggered by daily stressors such as someone cutting you off on the highway, it’s not worth engaging. Try to take a deep breath and let it go.

Stress sparks a reaction that floods the body with the fight-or-flight hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. Those are great to flee a dangerous situation, but a constant flow is harmful to your well-being.

Practicing daily relaxation exercises can increase your tolerance for stress. It takes less than five minutes a day to mend your mood and lift your spirits.

Engage in exercise. When your body is healthy, it functions better — and that includes the immune system. If you’re new to fitness, start with 20 minutes a day, five times a week. Here are a few foundation moves that should be included in everyone’s exercise routine:

  • Wall sit: This move is ideal for beginners who need support when squatting. Begin with your back against a wall, then walk your feet out and lower your body until your knees are at a 90-degree angle and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your body weight in your heels. Hold for 60 seconds.
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates a wall squat, a move that provides a good foundation for a workout.
Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley Greenblatt demonstrates a wall squat, a move that provides a good foundation for a workout.
  • Squat: Once you’ve mastered a wall-sit, try squats to buff the muscles necessary for safely sitting and standing. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hinge back at your hips, lowering your body until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor. Your body weight should remain in your heels throughout the entire exercise. Practice 10 times. You can increase the challenge by adding a looped resistance band around your thighs.
  • Push-ups: This move improves posture, upper body power, and core strength. Start in a plank pose, keeping your elbows tucked near your ribs as you lower your body toward the floor. Repeat 10 times. If gravity produces too much force, start from an incline position.
Try push-ups on a bench until you're ready to hit the floor.
Ashley Greenblatt
Try push-ups on a bench until you're ready to hit the floor.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.