by Jill Sylvester, LMHC

How is everyone faring?
Right, then.

Take a deep breath, take this moment, and with the intention of staying healthy for yourself and others, here are 5 things you can do to keep your immune system in tip-top shape:

Drink Hot Water with Lemon

Lemon is filled with vitamin C and helps aid digestion, flush out toxins and detoxifies the liver. It’s also comforting and healing. Alternate cups of coffee or tea with hot water and lemon. Notice how you feel. Starting off the day with hot water and lemon starts the day off right and will motivate you to keep the habit going.

Eat Mostly Plant Based foods
That doesn’t mean all plant based. That means mostly. I shoot for 70% each day, with a protein, plant-based smoothie for breakfast, and one meal that includes either turkey, fish, eggs, or beef along with vegetables and healthy carbohydrates (think brown rice, sweet potato fries or white rice on occasion.)

According to a recent MD Anderson Center article, “Vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants in plants help keep your cells healthy and your body in balance so that your immune system can function at its best.” “Plants give your body what it needs to help fight off infection,” states Andrea Murray, MD Anderson health education specialist. “A plant-based diet strengthens your immune system to protect you against germs and microorganisms.”

Drink Fruit Smoothies as your Sweet Fix

Especially right now. Watch the sugar as in sugary snacks and treats. Not only does sugar weaken your immune system, but it exacerbates anxiety.
Don’t take my word for it.
Do your intermittent fasting when your mind is all clear and calm, and then watch what happens when you start raiding the cabinet for carbs and sweets in the afternoon. Give it not even an hour. Can you hear the gremlins?

So, stop that, and have this smoothie instead:
-1 or 2 apples, cut in chunks
-1 large lemon with rind on (yes, wash first)
-1 half lemon with rind off
-add water (not tap) and quite a bit- say 16 ounces or so-but you can tweak it to taste
-add a good inch or two of fresh ginger to taste.
Put in blender and drink. It’s super sweet, spicy, immune-enhancing and delicious.

Have this as your afternoon fix, especially during germ season, but you can enjoy it when all this is over, too.

Remember, “This too shall pass.”

Ingest News Information in Controlled Doses

Know thyself. If you are someone who gets freaked out after watching or listening to the news all day long, stop. I’m serious. Stop. You’re driving yourself nuts. Be an informed consumer, yes. But take your news in doses. Maybe you watch the news in the morning to get the latest and then you shut it off for the rest of the day, knowing that it will be there tomorrow. Or you check in at certain intervals, for specific periods of time. I read the paper in the morning. (I don’t really watch the news.) That way I can read what I want, when I want, how I want, and skip parts I don’t want to absorb. I can also turn the page.

Also, I highly recommend not watching the news before bed. Why would you do that? Whatever you need to know will be told to you by someone in your inner circle. You know this. Why not choose to wind down in a more gentler way, practicing good sleep hygiene by turning off the TV and phone thirty minutes before bed. This also keeps your immune system high by keeping your stress level low.

Take Your Supplements

Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Zinc are three supplements Dr. Mark Hyman recommends.
Vitamin D3 is essential for ideal immune function. 2000 IU for adults, 1000 IU for kids.
Vitamin C is a given 500–1000 mg a day. (I take 1000 mg 3x a day and have for years.)
Zinc can be found in foods like oysters and pumpkin seeds or taken as a supplement (take with food).

I also like the supplement Monolaurin, 300 mg at least once a day. It works so well when you’re feeling sick that my kids will automatically go and take it on their own without my prompting. Believe me, that’s all the testimony you need.

Taking steps to boost your immune system, taking control of what you can, helps to make you feel stronger, healthier, more empowered, and hopeful.
Take advantage of having this time.
Read that book you wanted to. Take that epsom salt bath with the window open. Binge watch movies that have been on your list for the great escape. Reflect on those ideas you’ve wanted to implement.

Ease your anxious feelings, if only for a short time, by doing what you can. Your heart rate will thank you.

Jill Sylvester is a licensed mental health counselor and author of the self-help book, “Trust Your Intuition: 100 Ways to Transform Anxiety and Depression for Stronger Mental Health.” Her work has been featured in Well+Good, Bustle, SheKnows, WorkingMother, Parenthood, TeenMentor, and To receive her free weekly blog containing tips to better your life, subscribe at