What are you doing to try and stay healthy during the pandemic?
“During times like these, it’s easy for some of the basics to get away from us,” recreation coordinator Jodi Wendl, Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill, shared during a recent discussion on immune health. “We should do things that fit into our lifestyle and make us feel good.”
Things like eating right, sleeping and exercising.
Masonic Villages makes eating right easy, with in-house chefs who make meals that fit the appropriate dietary standards. Indoor and outdoor recreation areas are another benefit. For example, Masonic Village at Elizabethtown has over 12 miles of walking trails, including six and a half acres of beautiful Formal Gardens. Masonic Villages at Elizabethtown, Sewickley and Lafayette Hill have on-site fitness centers in addition to the walkable grounds. At Masonic Village at Dallas, residents can use the wellness amenities at neighboring Misericordia University.
“Everything is striving for balance and moderation, whether it’s different food items or activities or sleep,” Jodi said. “All-or-nothing is not a great approach.”
A collection of special organs, cells, chemicals and proteins designed to fight off infection make up the immune system. Its main parts are white blood cells, antibodies, the lymphatic system, spleen and bone marrow.
A big part of keeping the immune system healthy involves taking stock of what you eat every day.
“Think of food as fuel that makes the body run,” Jodi said. “If you buy bad gasoline, the car won’t be happy.”
Older adults should strive for a diet rich in whole grains, such as cereal and whole grain breads. The closer you can consume food in its natural state, the better. Fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins – including poultry, fish and nuts, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids that can lower blood pressure and reduce triglycerides – are equally important.
Other “superfoods” that older adults should consider incorporating into their diet for a healthy immune system include:
- Foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, papaya, etc.)
- Red bell peppers (have 3x the vitamin C of oranges)
- Broccoli (super-packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber; one of the healthiest vegetables to eat)
- Garlic (has immune-boosting properties and can lower blood pressure)
- Ginger (helps with nausea; can decrease inflammation)
- Fresh spinach (rich in vitamins A, C and K; magnesium; iron; and manganese and may benefit eye health and reduce blood pressure)
- Sunflower seeds (nutrient-rich)
- Green tea (packed with antioxidants)
- Hot chicken soup (helps prevent dehydration – there’s a reason people have been making it for hundreds of years!)
Besides what you eat, it’s also important to exercise, get enough sleep, drink alcohol in moderation, avoid smoking, take steps to avoid infection (bacterial hand soap, safe food preparation, etc.), hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and last but not least, try to minimize stress.
“If you’re overwhelmed by the current news cycle, take steps to avoid it,” Jodi said. “An overabundance of information is not always good.”