Our guest this episode is Tom Nikkola. He’s the vice president of nutrition and virtual training at Life Time, as well as a certified sports nutritionist and strength and conditioning specialist.
Simply put, your immune system is the system that defends your health. If we think of it that way, it makes it less complicated to understand what we can do from a nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle standpoint to support it.
Before you can think about boosting your immune system, you first need to focus on what you may be doing to compromise it.
Nikkola discusses the connection between digestive and immune health. From our mouths to our stomach and intestines, there’s a lot we can do to help our bodies defend themselves.
Exercise challenges your immune system. Just like your muscles get stronger if you put them to use, so does your immune system — so long as you don’t overdo it.
Your immune function doesn’t improve during exercise, but rather after exercise as you recover and rebuild tissues. Sufficient, deep sleep is a big factor in that.
Nikkola talks about what nutrition choices we can make to optimize our immune system — and why we have to making the food choices that may be hurting us. Gluten is a great example of a common problem food. Protein, on the other hand, is essential for strong immune function.
In his work with clients, Nikkola typically starts by making sure they’re eating a high amount of protein with each meal, as well as more vegetables and some fruits. He encourages people to eat four times as many vegetables as fruit.
For supplements, there are five types that Nikkola recommends everyone start with. He calls these the Foundational Five and they’re the foundation for good nutrition on top of the foods we’re eating. They include a high-quality multivitamin, fish oil, magnesium, vitamin D, and digestive enzymes.
Once someone is taking those five on a daily basis, there is research that shows — from an immune function and inflammation level — that certain forms of curcumin, probiotics, CBD, and fiber can also be helpful.
Aside from all the steps you can take to better your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle habits, you can’t neglect your mindset. There’s conclusive research that shows if we’re ruminating on things that are negative, irritating, or stressful, we can raise our levels of inflammation and suppress our immune function.
- Immune-Boosting Foods
- High-Protein Diets: Health Benefits and Controversies
- The Foundational Five
- High-Quality Multivitamins: Why You Need Them. How to Shop for Good Ones.
- Fish Oil: Health Benefits of Supplementing for Your Body and Brain
- Vitamin D: Deficiency Symptoms and Benefits of Supplementation
- 5 Tips to Supplement With Vitamin D
- Digestive Enzymes: What Are They? Why Do You Use Them?
- Everything You Need to Know About Probiotics
- Sleep: Your Guide to a Better Brain and Body
- The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Your Immune System