Let’s face it — 2020 has been anything but normal. Many of us are working from home and steering clear from social gatherings in hopes of returning to normalcy sooner rather than later. We have all been told to social distance and avoid public establishments as much as possible, but this is no easy task.
This year has brought about many challenges for all of us. It is more likely than not that you have had to adjust your life accordingly without much time to prepare. Although the current issues that preside over us dominate media outlets day in and day out, this does not mean we should drop everything and forget about our health.
Self-care is perhaps more important in 2020 than recent years due to the current landscape of the world. It is imperative that we support our physical and mental health, but the abbreviated nature of life at the moment has made self-care all the more important!
For many of us, these historic times present a unique opportunity to spend more time at home, work remotely, and reconnect with loved ones. However, for those who prefer to stay busy and follow a structured schedule on a daily basis, the idea of working from home could be challenging. It could be tough to remain determined, motivated, and energized enough to spend most of your time at home.
This is why it is vital to support your health with the right nutrients while cooped up at home. Let’s take a look at some of the most important areas in your body to support during these unprecedented times.
1. Immune System
Your immune system plays a vital role in your daily health and wellbeing. The immune system is complex – it is made up of multiple organs along with various cells and proteins. It protects the body from harmful substances, along with potential changes in cell structure that could lead to health issues.
The School of Public Health at Harvard University states that a combination of healthy lifestyle factors, including a consistent dose of vitamins and minerals, is an effective way to support your immune system. One such nutrient highlighted in the reading is Vitamin C. This is why many people drink orange juice, especially during the colder months!
According to a comprehensive review published in the journal Nutrients, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans and contributes to immune defense “by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.” The study credits the potent antioxidative properties of Vitamin C for protecting the body from oxidative stress, a co-factor for providing positive support for the immune system.
Vitamin D has also been coming to the forefront as a key nutrient for immune system response. And with Vitamin D deficiency being a reality for a vast majority of the population, supplementing with Vitamin D becomes a valuable tool for immune system health.
Many of us have had to adapt to a new way of life. This includes new working conditions, abbreviated ways to shop in stores, virtual methods of interacting with friends and family, and more. For those who prefer a structured schedule each day, it might be difficult to muster up the energy and motivation to swiftly complete tasks in the current environment.
This is why it is important to support your body with the energy needed to power through the days, weeks, and even months of this new way of living. As we continue to work from home, our bodies need healthy sources of energy to keep us on task. One such way to provide yourself with a healthy boost of energy is by consuming the right nutrients.
There are multiple ways to provide your body with a boost of energy. But the most popular — coffee, energy shots, and other caffeinated drinks — are usually loaded with sugar and unhealthy ingredients. In order to support self-care, you might want to stick with the healthy alternatives. For instance, Vitamin B12 is among the top nutrients for energy support. Dubbed the “energy vitamin,” B12 has generated quite the buzz on media outlets, especially health news websites. Unfortunately, close to half of all adults in the United States are not getting enough Vitamin B12 in their diets, according to a report from the USDA Agricultural Research Service titled B12 Deficiency May Be More Widespread Than We Thought. Nearly nine percent suffer from an outright B12 deficiency, which can compromise health in a number of ways. Almost two-fifths of the adult population, thirty-nine percent to be exact, falls into the “low normal” range of B12 blood levels and “may be flirting with marginal B12 status,” the report states.
And while people over 60 tend to be at the higher percentage of risk, younger people who lean towards a plant-based diet may also be getting inadequate amounts of B12 as well. Plus, studies now show that taking the prescription drug Metformin can lower result in B12 deficiency among diabetics and may indicate a need for supplementation.
3. Eye Health
Many of us rely on technology to work from home, to attend virtual lectures, and for good old entertainment. Sure, technology is great, but staring at screens all day strains our eyes. For instance, we must protect our eyes from the blue light that radiates off LED lights, computer screens, cell phones, tablets, and more. Therefore, it is important to support your eye health as you continue with your self-care journey in 2020.
One of the top nutrients to support your eyes is Lutein. A carotenoid, this powerful nutrient works as an antioxidant that helps protect your cells and body tissue from free radicals. Although we are born with Lutein in our eyes, the human body is incapable of producing Lutein in a natural way. As a result, Lutein levels decrease with age, causing our eyes to become more exposed over time.
According to a 2018 study titled “The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health,” a large body of evidence shows that Lutein is the go-to nutrient for vision support. Clinical studies show that Lutein helps improve age-related macular issues, which is the leading cause of vision impairment. The macula is an important part of the eye located in the back of the retina and is responsible for all of our central vision. For a more detailed look at this part of the eye, check out this informative video: https://www.macularsociety.org/what-macula.
The American Optometric Association considers both Lutein and its co-nutrient Zeaxanthin as promising nutrients to support eye health. The AOA states that an increased intake of both nutrients may reduce the risk of developing eye issues and even recommended increasing the amount of antioxidants, especially Lutein, in your daily diet.
4. Positive Mood
Mood support is critical these days. Current events in both our professional and personal lives have an impact on the way we see the world. And while it is nearly impossible to maintain a positive mood every single day, there are ways to support your mood as much as you can. For instance, one nutrient that has clinically shown to support a positive mood is Magnesium.
Nutrition Journal published a study that tested the anti-anxiety effects of Magnesium. While this study did not directly associate Magnesium with mood, it did, however, state that the increased intake of this nutrient, in combination with other vitamins and minerals like B6, Calcium and Zinc, showed a positive direction of evidence when it came to managing anxiety.
Further research has suggested that Magnesium potentially could protect against mood disorders such as depression, according to findings from a study done on mice. While this research does credit Magnesium as one nutrient that could support mood, we do suggest you speak with your doctor for more information if you suspect that you are dealing with a major anxiety disorder.
There are other nutrients associated with managing stress as well. Primary among these are B-Vitamins, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola — all of which are worth exploring in these days of change and uncertainty.
5. Joint Comfort & Muscle Strength
The last, but certainly not least, areas to round out our self-care list are our joints and muscles. Although you may not be able to do much in terms of organized sports or go to the gym, it is still important to support your joints and muscles.
Since many of us are cooped up in our home, the itch to go outside and burn off some stored energy may arise. With bike riding, hiking, yoga, walking, and more, there is no shortage of physical activities that you could carry out on your own! These activities get us out of the house and away from doing the same old indoor activities. The last thing you need is discomfort in your joints and muscles that prevent you from partaking in the outdoor activities you love. This is why it is important to care for yourself by supporting the joints and muscles throughout your entire body!
One premier nutrient that supports your joints is Hyaluronic Acid. Multiple studies carried out between 2008 and 2015 have confirmed the effectiveness of this nutrient when it comes to comfort in your joints and muscle. One study confirmed the safety of HA and expects the nutrient to “emerge as a modality for treating knee pain that can be safely used by patients.”
Hyaluronic Acid is one of the top nutrients for joint support, as it acts as a “lubricant, shock absorber, joint structure stabilizer, and water balance- and flow resistance-regulator,” according to a published study in Frontier, a peer-reviewed medical journal. This same study acknowledged the role of HA in lubrication and cartilage repair.
Additionally, we’ve dealt with gyms having to close their doors for an extended period of time. And for those who prefer to lift weights and build muscle over participating in the aforementioned outdoor activities, this could spell trouble. By now, you might’ve set up a make-shift gym complete with the equipment your body requires to maintain its physique. Fear not — your personal workout station assembled in the confines of your own home could have you looking better than ever! However, it might be a good idea to supplement your workouts with Creatine to help you get the most out of those home strength-building workouts.
Creatine is no stranger to clinical testing. In fact, multiple studies have confirmed the effectiveness of this powerful nutrient for the role it plays in building muscle, promoting energy and endurance, and even supporting your brain! According to a study published in Nutrients, “Creatine is one of the most commonly used nutritional ergogenic aids in various athletic populations and was designed to increase exercise-related strength and power for high intensity exercise bouts of short duration.” As a result, the study suggested Creatine improves upper body strength and appears to be an effective supplementation method when it comes to strength development.
Other fantastic nutritional choices for your joints and muscles include Krill Oil, Magnesium, Boron, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D.
Take Care of Yourself
As mentioned, life has changed in multiple ways. School, work, sports, and virtually all other aspects of life have forced us all to adapt to the dynamic nature of 2020. We’re at home more often, contact with other people has drastically changed, and multiple measures have been put in place to keep everyone safe. This has given way to virtual interaction via video chat, text message, and other online forms of communication.
Many of us have spent most of 2020 confined exclusively to our homes and workplaces. With social distancing being prioritized over public gatherings of any sort, many of us have felt the negative effects of being stuck at home. This is why it is all the more important to support your physical and mental health through practices of self-care.
The bottom line is that 2020 has forced us to adapt to the “new normal.” While everyone’s definition of “new normal” is different, we are able to agree that self-care is of the utmost importance.