Corona’s call for boosting your immune system
Whilst there are no magic pills you can take to protect yourself from getting any virus, including COVID-19, there are a number of things you can do to support the strength of your immune system and body’s ability to manage incoming pathogens and illnesses.
Eat fresh food
Vibrant plant foods are the best sources of nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which are essential for your immune system to work efficiently. Forget stocking up on frozen pizzas, and instead buy fresh ingredients. If you do want to stock up a bit, or have family and friends cooking for you, then it’s a great idea to cook homely recipes in bulk and freeze.
Things to include on your shopping list: colourful veggies like capsicums, zucchini, beans, broccoli, squash, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic etc. Fresh fruit such as berries, kiwifruit, tomatoes, avocados. Plant based proteins including legumes, nuts and seeds, and tempeh.
Specific foods that boost the immune system function
- Zinc containing foods such as nuts and seeds, seafood and good quality, grass fed beef.
- Vitamin C rich foods such as raw capsicum, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli and citrus.
- Antimicrobial foods: garlic!
Immune boosting foods like Asian mushrooms.
- Anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger and turmeric.
- Good quality protein like nuts and seeds, fish, tempeh and tofu, and legumes.
- Vitamin D is now linked to greater immune function efficiency and people living in some countries (including Australia) can become deficient in this due to low sunshine exposure.
Avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol and processed foods
Alcohol (even if it may be supposedly distressing), excessive caffeine and hidden sugars, preservatives and chemicals in processed foods do not do you any favours, particularly when it comes to gut health.
The gut microbiome is one of the body’s key immune and inflammation modulating systems, and keeping it in healthy balance is key for warding off infections and a speedy recovery.
Remember “Motion can change your eMotion”
If you need to spend more time at home or are socially isolating yourself, it is very tempting to binge-watch your way through your Netflix account.
However it is really important to keep the body moving, this helps blood flow, digestion and detoxification pathways, not to mention mental health and weight management. There are great home exercise options online via Instagram or Youtube, or yoga / workout DVDs you can purchase. Even a 10 minute stretching and deep breathing session in the garden is great.
Reduce screen time before bed
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for the body’s repair mechanisms. The blue light from screens affects the melatonin hormone production in our brain and the quality of sleep we are getting.
Instead of TV or social media scrolling, grab a book you have always wanted to read and cozy up in bed. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour, and get up at the same time each morning to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Deep breathing exercise
Deep breathing exercises manage stress and anxiety. Deep breaths into your belly are a quick and effective way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system(PNS). The PNS which has the Vagus as it’s main nerve, is responsible for reducing your heart rate and stress response, lowering cortisol levels, and allowing the body to calm down, rest and digest.
If you find yourself getting anxious about what is going on in the world, sit somewhere comfortable, close your eyes, and practice slow and conscious breathing. (I will be putting out another article on how breathing affects your immunity).
Remember “Your feeling can create your healing”.
Act from a calm faith and a community-focused approach.
See the benefits of working from home or having a reduced work load. It may be a good time to get onto the life-admin tasks we keep putting off, like sorting through bills, reorganising the laundry cupboard, and spring-cleaning the shed.
Practising gratitude is a good way to keep things in perspective. And rather than hoarding thing galore, which reflects an attitude of lack, take stock of your worries and understand that panicking will not provide a solution to get through through this pandemic.
Hygiene practices & sensible social distancing
The hygiene practice guidelines are widely discussed, and include frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your face. Remember you phone is the most commonly touched item – so make sure you clean it regularly with an alcohol wipe.
Skipping large gatherings and busy shopping malls is almost mandatory now, however do ensure that you get some fresh air.
Above all be hopeful … this will all be behind us one day.
Please stay connected with your friends and loved ones during these times. You can join my Radical Wellness Facebook where I am posting regular updates about events.
Also the Radical Wellness Program is now online!
Take care and keep smiling,
Discover. Empower. Prosper.
Dr Arun Dhir
Surgeon, Health & Wellness Advocate.
Author of “Happy Gut, Healthy Weight” and “Create a New You Health Journal“