Three Top Tips for a Healthier 2021

The human body is more robust than most folks realize...

Our immune system doesn't get enough credit... Each year, I see more and more folks act like our bodies can't protect us from disease. It's one reason why antibacterial soaps are so popular. People would rather slather their hands with a harmful chemical to destroy bacteria than count on their immune systems to handle the job.

Your immune system is designed to take care of illness and disease. And as long as you're relatively healthy and don't have a compromised immune system (from cancer, for example), your body can defend itself against almost anything.

For most of us, practicing usual measures during cold and flu season – like washing our hands and not sharing utensils – is enough to protect us. And our immune systems fight off anything that slips through those basic defenses. You may have some rough days... but your body will almost always win the fight.

But with the ongoing pandemic, people are more worried than ever about disease and our immune system's capabilities.

Every year, I send Retirement Millionaire subscribers my list of the top ways to improve your health over the next year. And last week, I kicked off 2021 the way I always start a new year... by featuring my list of the top ways to protect and improve your health.

But this year was a little bit different... Because of everyone's heightened concern about their health and well-being, we looked at the best ways to support your immune system. And in today's issue of Health & Wealth Bulletin, I want to share three of my 13 tips for 2021 with you...

1) Breathe deep.

This year, my favorite book – and a repeated gift item to friends and family – was James Nestor's Breath. It explores the power of the breath... how the mind and the body's connection to oxygen, carbon dioxide, and health is critical to optimal health and immune system function.

Regular rhythmic deep-breathing exercises increase the body's number of natural killer cells. That's a type of white blood cell that destroys tumors and cells infected with a virus. This killing system is the likely reason that most people clear COVID-19, and why most young people don't get symptoms or react poorly to the virus.

And we know that mindful breathing also has been shown to fight the progression of autoimmune diseases. Recall that virtually all the deaths associated with COVID-19 (along with other viruses) are related to autoimmune disease and dysfunction – issues like type 2 diabetes. It's one of the reasons steroids work so well in COVID-19 treatment... Steroids reduce immune system activity. Do what I do and practice slow, deep nasal breaths when writing or reading. You may be surprised to realize how shallow your breath often is.

2) Cut the white sugar and sugar substitutes out of your diet.

Sugar not only causes glucose levels to spike in the body, but it also causes our serotonin and dopamine levels to spike quickly. While these are generally beneficial hormones... rapid spikes lead to mood swings and energy crashes.

Additionally, sugar – and carbohydrates that metabolize as sugar – inhibits your body's ability to fight off bacteria. Dicarbonyls, a product of broken-down glucose, change the structure of beta-defensin-2 peptides in the body, inhibiting their ability to fight inflammation and infection. So eating sugary foods and having sugary drinks literally changes your body's chemistry to allow harmful bacteria to overtake your immune system.

Reducing sugar doesn't mean you can't ever have a nice dessert, though. I like to make whipped cream without sugar (I just throw some heavy cream in a blender). And for some chocolate cake to go along with that whipped cream, I only use a third of the sugar the recipe calls for.

3) Listen to music.

Research has shown that listening to and playing music boosts your immune system through the increased production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells. White blood cells called lymphocytes (specifically, "B cells") produce immunoglobulin A and then secrete it in mucous membranes – that helps your immune system fight off sickness. Natural killer cells are another lymphocyte that helps the immune system control tumors and microbial infections by inhibiting their spread. Listening to music also reduces cortisol levels, making us feel less stressed.

Do what I do and listen to various forms of music at different times and for different moods. For example, right now, I love writing to jazz, specifically Red Garland's piano-bass-drum trio. But if I want to run or bike vigorously, I might put on hip hop or fast-paced rock to keep me motivated and moving.

In last week's issue of Retirement Millionaire, I shared 10 more tips to support your immune system this year... in a year when lots of folks are more concerned than ever. If you're not already a subscriber, you can get started right here. (Subscribers can read the full issue here.)

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
January 19, 2021