COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise.
Whilst new rates of COVID-19 in the epicentre of Wuhan are slowing down, the coronavirus has now begun to increase outside of China.
In an unprecedented time, everything seems as if it is coming to a standstill.
Whilst it may be easier to follow the crowd and become fearful, I want to empower you with some information to help protect yourself.
Here are some helpful tweaks you can make to your lifestyle to help you boost the immunity of your family and yourself.
1. Manage Stress
The widespread anxiety and fear can drastically impact the health of our immunity. This is due to several factors, but one being that the stress hormone cortisol actually dulls the effect of the immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to illness and infection.
For this reason, paying attention to how you manage your stress is crucial when looking to maintain the optimal health of your body as a whole and your defense strategies, i.e. the immune system.
Simple strategies to reduce stress include nasal deep breathing, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic branch of the nervous system is the rest and digest portion of it, which ensures your body functions calmly. In contrast, shallow breathing through the mouth stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, causing further stress.
Another way to reduce stress is to try meditation. Meditation is much simpler than it sounds and everyone experiences it differently. If you are new to meditation, opt for a guided meditation till you are confident and comfortable with what you want.
I also cannot stress enough to be aware of how you actually perceive stress. In these times particularly, it is very easy to become swept away with the atmosphere of fear.
What you focus on becomes bigger, and whilst this can be great when it is something positive, focusing on negativity can quickly grow into a fear, anxiety and even depression.
You are the driver of your focus, nobody else. Use it intentionally.
2. Drink lots of warm, filtered water
Water is essential for life and that includes supporting the immune system in several ways. One logical reason for drinking more water is that the water actually flushes toxins from the system, preventing them from attaching to the body’s membranes and doing harm.
Another simple way to boost the immune system is to drink pre-boiled water. Despite having a lack of pathogens, boiled water has been shown to increase the efficacy of the immune system, although the reason why is unclear.
What’s more, drinking water, in particular warm water, supports the digestive system, which is responsible for a large part of the immune system.
In the event of having a cold or flu, it is advisable to drink water warm, as it helps the mucous move quicker through the system, preventing it from clogging up your system and causing problems.
But aside from that, water is essential for the body to do its job, such as fighting infections and keeping us well.
The health of our digestive system plays a huge role in the efficacy of our immune system. It is the gut where our immune system encounters many pathogens and begins to elicit a response.
Gut bacteria play an important role in the immune system. So when the gut bacteria are unbalanced or out of whack, it is unable to produce as many immune cells.
Taking a probiotic on an empty stomach before bed can help restore balance of bacteria in the gut. By rebalancing the bacteria in the gut, white blood cells producing antibodies can be restored.
4. Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a diet rich in health foods is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system.
Stay away from overly processed foods and refined sugar, which upset gut bacteria and in turn upset the immune system. Instead, opt for brightly coloured fruits and vegetables chock full of immune boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Vitamin C is the vitamin that gets most exposure for its beneficial effects on the integrity of the immune system, however vitamin C is not solely responsible for upgrading the immune system. Vitamins B6 and E also play a significant role in the health of the immune system.
Rich sources of immune boosting vitamin C include citrus fruits, red capsicums, broccoli and spinach. As a general rule of thumb, the brighter the colour the richer it is in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
If you are able to supplement with a quality multivitamin particularly during this time, it may be very helpful.
5. Whole Foods
Now is the time to finally get rid of processed foods and refined sugars from your diet and that of your family.
Processed foods undergo such radical processing that they provide little nourishment. Further, packaged processed foods, particularly those originating from a long distance, are stuffed with fake preservatives and other synthetic chemicals to increase the shelf life, help them look pretty, and be palatable.
These chemicals do not belong in the body, and when they enter it, they create a cascade of negative effects on the body, particularly inflammation.
If you have been looking for a time to reduce your family's consumption of processed food, use this as an opportunity.
The word superfood is thrown around a lot lately, however some superfoods can be hugely beneficial when fighting this kind of virus.
- Red Capsicum
Quality sleep is essential to allow the body's immune system to not only repair, but actually produce components of the immune system. When you do not get enough sleep, your body is unable to produce the amount of immune cells for an optimal immune response.
Sleep isn't an accidental activity. Many of us need to be coaxed and cued into sleep.
For that reason, creating a solid nighttime routine is essential. This can easily be achieved by ensuring you reduce as much stimulation at least 30 minutes before bed time, as well as ensuring you have adequate exposure to sunlight to produce enough serotonin and your evening is dark to produce enough melatonin, both essential for optimal quality sleep.
Whilst these steps can help you prevent the spread of the disease, ensure you strictly follow the guidelines of your government and the World Health Organization.
Take care of your body more than ever right now. If you show your body the respect and care it deserves, it will serve to help you when times get tough.
Many of us overlook our health, particularly us Mums who give our all to our family. But we must remember that our health is the core of the family. We must take care of our health, not only to provide and empower our children to take care of themselves, but if our health suffers, things can quickly fall apart.
For the month of March I will be offering limited 20-minute wellness consultations. These consultations are aimed to give you quick tools and tips to armour your health and wellbeing and that of your family during this challenging time.
If you are concerned about your health, call your General Practitioner for advice.
I wish you all the best.