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Seriously, don’t panic; it’s the media’s job to propel you into a state of chaos and fear, but this “global pandemic” brings up a good topic: how to keep your immune system in tip top shape!

Aside from washing your hands furiously and avoiding sick people, the main thing you can do is get more sleep. Be in bed by 11pm latest – your immune system does most of its work between 10pm and 6am, so if you’re awake during those hours, you’re robbing your immune system of it ability to fully scavenge for and get rid of bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells. Get a good 8 or 9 hours. A recent study showed that sleeping 7 or more hours per night helped prevent the common cold.

Did you know that 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut? This is one of your first lines of defense. So keep your gut healthy! Take a probiotic supplement and avoid foods to which you are allergic/intolerant (soy, milk, eggs, nuts, gluten/wheat, citrus are the most common) to prevent inflammation in the gut. Eat cultured and fermented foods like krauts and kefir.

Ever notice you get sick or feel more run down when you’re stressed? This is because high cortisol levels and imbalanced adrenal glands can weaken your immune system. Get your cortisol levels checked and reduce stress by planning ahead, getting good sleep and naps, eating well, exercising, and practicing meditation or deep breathing.

Pay particular attention to your diet. Sugar feeds cancer cells and destroys your immune system. Avoid refined and processed foods and junk food high in sugar. And sodas! Focus on whole foods, whole grains, fresh vegetables and greens and fruits, and drink plenty of water. Buy organic!

Increase vitamin C intake by getting enough fruits: kiwi, strawberries, and citrus are particularly high in C. Zinc is also critical for proper immune function. Lamb and beef are excellent sources, and pumpkin seeds are the highest vegetarian source.

There are some great herbal tinctures out there to strengthen immunity: choose astragalus, echinacea, schizandra, ashwaganda, bupleurum root, wild indigo (for assisting the lymph in ridding the body of bacteria and waste). Mushrooms are superior for enhancing immune health: shiitake, reishi, cordyceps. Find these in tinctures or teas.

Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol. They run down your immunity and adversely affect your sleep.

Finally: your mind has a very powerful affect on your body and your wellness. Constantly telling yourself you’re going to be sick and focusing on that thought will yield that result: your body will follow your mind’s commands! So, see yourself and healthy and well and your body will follow.