Staying well is always important for VSG patients, but it takes on new meaning when illness is running rampant. Did you know that you can influence your body’s immune system with lifestyle factors like food and your activities? There’s never been a better time to structure your daily routine around maximizing the body’s natural defenses.
Tip #1: Dive into fruits and veggies
Not surprisingly, eating produce is one of the top ways to boost immunity, but adding specific fruits and vegetables to your gastric sleeve diet packs a bigger punch than others. Fruits that provide high doses of vitamin C, like citrus, kiwi, and papaya, are good choices; red bell peppers, too, are packed with vitamin C. Broccoli and spinach are nutrient powerhouses, especially when eaten raw or lightly cooked, and garlic has earned its sickness-fighting reputation over thousands of years.
Tip #2: Break out the spices
Turmeric is the star of the spice world these days for good reason. It has serious anti-inflammatory properties, which is important because inflammation puts your body at risk for all kinds of illnesses. Sprinkle it on pasta and salads for an easy boost. Ginger is another spicy celebrity that you probably already have in your cabinet. It’s a tasty addition to stir-fries or veggie-packed Thai dishes and adds zing to homemade salad dressings.
Tip #3: Sip on tea
Especially green tea. Vertical sleeve gastrectomy patients need to get their water in, so you might as well help your immune system while you’re sipping. Brew it hot or iced, depending on your preference, for a healthy wallop of the immune-enhancing antioxidant EGCG.
Tip #4: Chose the right protein
Poultry like chicken and turkey is high in B6, which is essential for everything from red blood cell development to regulating your sleep (both are key to immunity). And you’ve heard of people popping a zinc supplement if they feel a cold coming on? Well, you can get zinc from delicious shellfish, too. Steam oysters, lobster, clams, mussels, or crab to ingest natural zinc, which helps immune cells function at their best. Just keep serving sizes in check so you don’t get too much zinc. In this case, too much is not a good thing.
Tip #5: Get moving
You knew it was coming, right? Exercise has been proven again and again to boost the immune system. And there’s no need to kill yourself with super-tough workouts; as little as a half hour a day of moderate exercise (think walking, cycling, or swimming) can do wonders.
Tip #6: Make sleep a priority
Most of the tips above naturally lead to better sleep because when your diet is healthy and you’re moving during the day, you tend to sleep better. Other ways to successfully prepare for a good night’s sleep (which supports white blood cells): cut out caffeine and alcohol several hours before bed, read a book rather than play on a screen to get sleepy, and keep your bedroom temperature chilly.
Tip #7: Reduce stress
Easier said than done when you’re worried about your health, right? Most stress-reduction activities are pretty fun, though. Having sex once or twice a week, for example, seems to boost immunoglobulin A (an immune molecule). Maintaining your friendships—over the phone or Skype if you’re social distancing, laughing at a funny video, and playing with your pet have also been proven to reduce stress.
You might not be able to control everything, but there’s plenty you can do to improve the way your immune system functions to help you fight off germs and disease. And you don’t have to be a VSG patient to benefit from these ideas, so share them with your family and friends so everyone you love stays as healthy as possible!
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