Updated: Mar 24, 2020
With the Coronavirus at top of mind there is a lot of fear and stress rapidly spreading around the world at the moment. I know the unknown can be scary, but what is scarier is letting the fear and panic get the best of us.
The majority of us have a very low risk of the virus doing anything more than making us cough for a little while, but populations like the elderly and those who have compromised immune systems are at greater risk and it is for these people that we need to think of. The best thing we can do is take appropriate precautions and lay low to avoid the spread.
We can also boost our immune system so that if we are exposed we will be better able to handle it.
Here are a few ways you can boost your immunity to stay healthy.
1. Reduce stress and fear. Stress is a major suppressor of the immune system so to help boost it, simply reduce stress. One of the easiest ways to do this is to practice diaphragmatic breathing and extend the exhale of your breath. Bringing awareness to your breath helps you focus on the present moment. Another breathing technique (and one of my favourites) is called Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing, which can help tame the mind. It also helps balance the right and left sides of the brain, calms your mind, purifies your breathing, improves sleep and cleanses the lungs. And it’s quite simple. Sit in a comfortable space and using your right hand close off your right nostril. Inhale slowly through your left nostril, now close the left nostril with your third (ring) finger and release the thumb from the right nostril. Slowly exhale though your right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, then use your thumb to close off the right nostril, release your third finger from the left nostril and slowly exhale through the left nostril. Slowly inhale through the left nostril then close off the left nostril with your third finger, release your thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Continue this pattern for several minutes. Notice how you feel and compare it to when you began.
2. Eat nourishing whole foods - Hippocrates’ famous quote says “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” and I couldn’t agree more. By eating whole real food you are giving your body the building blocks and nutrients it needs for boosting your immunity. Eat foods that are a variety in colours and diverse to make sure you are getting the best mix of nutrients. Dark leafy greens, bright red, orange and purple carrots, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts help to support your very busy liver. Fresh fruits are full of fibre to keep your gut bacteria happy. Avoid processed foods that provide little to no nutritional value. Limit your sugar intake to help reduce chronic inflammation which contributes to the condition that puts us at greater risk for viral infections. Add garlic, onions, ginger and lots of spices to your meals. Oregano and Turmeric too!
3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is when our body restores and heals and it gives the immune system a chance to regroup. Without good quality sleep your immune system doesn’t stand a chance. To give yourself the best opportunity to get a good night sleep turn off your screens at least 30 mins prior to going to bed, an hour is even better. The light from our screens disrupts the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone and a very potent antioxidant. Keep the lights in your home low. Maybe add in a short meditation time or journaling time prior to bed to help clear your mind of the thoughts from the day. Sleep in a dark room or use a sleep mask to block out as much light as possible. And then hit the sheets by 10pm.
4. Stay hydrated. Eat soups and broths (homemade from scratch is always best). Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. You can also add a pinch of sea salt to your water to help replenish your electrolytes. Drink plenty of water throughout your day and more if you are physically active. Avoid drinking too much with meals as this dilutes your digestive juices and makes your gut work harder to digest your meals. Consuming adequate fluids supports all of your bodies’ functions including the immune system.
5. Get your body moving! Regular exercise helps boost the immune system. 30-40 minutes of mild to moderate exercise is all you need. A brisk walk, maybe holding some hand weights and then add in some light stretching or yoga at the end. Don’t discount playing with your kids as exercise. It counts and is great for the whole family. Getting outside makes this even better! Natural vitamin D from the sun and fresh air are also fantastic for your immunity.
6. Supplement for added immune support. Boost your Vitamin C. This essential vitamin is a potent antioxidant and has long been known to support the immune system. Vitamin D3 is critical for good immune function and it isn’t likely that you can get enough just from the sun, supplementation is required. Get your levels tested for appropriate dosing. Many adults need as much as 5000IU or more per day in winter. Start with 2000IU until you know your required amounts. A good quality multivitamin is the foundation for any healthy regimen. Our food, while still a great source of nutrients isn’t as nutrient dense as it once was. Using a multivitamin to bridge the gap will help cover the basic needs of your body for it’s daily functions. If you aren’t on one, you should get one and stay on it. Probiotics are also a really great way to keep your gut happy and 80% of your immune system is found in your gut.
Keeping your immune system strong will help you during cold and flu season.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve discussed here or would like some advice on supplements please feel free to reach out. You can check out the supplements I listed above here.
Cheers to your health.