03 May Uplevel Your Immune System with these Powerful Tools
This month in my Vitality Club, I talk about the immune system, something we’re all paying more attention to in these past few years.
Your immune system works behind the scenes all the time, day and night, keeping you protected from the outside world and even from things living inside you, as well. It’s a full time job, and every choice we make either supports or challenges our natural immunity.
Poor choices can’t always be avoided. That’s life. Try as we might, we all find ourselves doing things that go against our best intentions from time to time.
When those afternoon sugar cravings come around, for example, we might forget all about that promise we made to ourselves in the morning. Or have you ever found yourself at the bottom of the chip bag wondering what happened?
Maybe it’s the glass of wine or beer you were going to save for the weekend or not getting to your workout because you spent too much time scrolling on Instagram. How about when that early bedtime you long for falls prey to just one more episode of… (fill in the blank)?
I mention these examples because each one of them puts strain on how our immune system functions, either making it less resilient or, in the case of autoimmunity, potentially causing it to overreact.
I imagine most of us can relate to some, if not all, of these scenarios (myself included!). So what do we do?
The Power of Dopamine
When we act impulsively, it’s because we’re looking for a hit of natural dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure and motivation. The receptors in our brain beg us to eat all the chips, or find out what happens in the next episode, or do anything that will make us feel good in the moment, longer term consequences aside.
And the big food industry and technology giants have figured out how to manipulate our dopamine receptors, until we want things so badly, they become addictive.
I just finished the book Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke, and I’ve started talking about dopamine with my clients on a daily basis. This has me thinking about how to combat our knee-jerk impulses, so we can act differently.
I’d like to share some tips that will empower you and act as immune system boosters by curbing any habits that put your system under stress.
Take a “Do This First” Approach
Let’s say, at the end of a long day, you would love to pour yourself a glass of wine or crack open a beer. With my “Do This First” Approach, you’d instead use one of my simplest mocktail recipes first: sparkling water with a splash of kombucha and a squeeze of lime. After you drink this first, then you can decide if you still want the real deal. See what happens!
The time that you spend doing something else before giving into a craving allows your dopamine receptors to down-regulate, meaning they’ll have less power over you.
Here’s another example of “Do This First”: The afternoon comes around, and like clockwork, you want a carb-loaded pick-me-up. Maybe it’s salty chips or popcorn. Maybe it’s chocolate or the cookies you have in the cupboard. Instead, try my simple savory recipe.
The main thing is to find something else that gives you pleasure:
- go for a walk,
- or call a friend,
- stretch out in the afternoon sun,
- read a book,
- or put on some good music and just relax for a bit.
When you “Do This First,” and delay your dopamine urges for 10 minutes or longer, you’ll likely feel more willingness to do exactly what you intended (and what’s best for your immune system): eating less sugar, getting more sleep, and moving your body!
Becoming intentional about supporting the immune system brings me to another ally we have on the path of vitality: adaptogenic plants!
Here’s my favorite Adaptogenic tincture, best taken 20 minutes before a meal, because it also doubles up as a digestive bitter, a win win!
Adaptogens balance our energy levels and support how the body reacts to stress. Since we know that stress can increase addictive desires, adding these delicious superfoods to our daily diet – especially when we’re feeling stressed – sets us up with more resilience.
Check out this short video to learn about a few adaptogenic plant allies I recommend.
You’ll also hear how gargling can give your immune system a little boost!
I’d love to hear how YOU work with habits and cravings to give your immune system the support it needs. Comment below to share!