COVID-19 has created a certain level of worry about our health and our quest for well-being is more important than ever before. Now really is the time to take action and make positive lifestyle changes. “Let food be thy medicine!” Hippocrates was right, food can provide us with essential building blocks to health and vitality and more importantly, can keep our immune system in fighting shape.
1. SUPPORT YOUR GUT
Our gut health is a critical component of overall health and a marker for the state of the immune system. The stomach essentially performs the task of separating the inside of our body from the outside world. It acts as a filter by removing toxins and waste from the body and allowing nutrients through. The highest and densest microbe population in your body can be found in your gut, where it plays a critical role in digestion, weight regulation and immune system function.
Building a healthy gut bacterium and avoiding foods that could damage the gut are just some ways you can support your immune system function. If the gut is damaged in any way (for example leaky gut syndrome), your immune system spends much of its time and energy fighting the toxins that leak through your gut into your bloodstream.
So, how do you support your gut?
- Eat fermented foods in order to get a wide variety of probiotics such as Kombucha, Kimchi and sauerkraut which provide an array of good bacteria
- Take a prebiotic supplement or find foods that contain prebiotics that support the good bacteria as they are the precursor for good bacteria
- Eat lots of fibre. Animal-based foods contain no fibre, but plant-based foods are loaded with it. Make sure you are getting a wide variety of plant-based foods, including whole grains, a wide range of fruit and vegetables, certain plant-based meats (like our range of meat alternatives) that are usually high in fibre and are pesticide-free.
- Avoid fruit and vegetables which have been sprayed with pesticides and chemicals. One of the most popular herbicides sprayed on crops contains the chemical, Glyphosate, which disrupts the gut wall which then allows bacteria to pass through the gut lining. This affects the functioning of the immune system. Try to buy organic wherever possible.
- Limit intake of highly processed foods and animal products. Animals reared for human consumption contain the very chemicals that damage the stomach lining. The primary food source for these animals is genetically modified corn and soy which has usually been sprayed with herbicides containing glyphosate. The glyphosate accumulates in the animal’s body, which we then consume.
2. TAKE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS
There are literally hundreds of natural herbs and vitamin supplements on the market and it can be confusing to decide which ones to buy. While there are no magic pills you can take to prevent a virus or a cold, there are some simple ones you can add to your everyday diet to give you a fighting chance.
- Vitamin C: Can be taken as a supplement or found in high levels in peppers, guavas, oranges, strawberries and broccoli.
- Vitamin D: A few minutes in the sunshine can boost your Vitamin D levels or take a supplement. A blood test will show your Vitamin D levels.
- Zinc, Echinacea, Ashwagandha: All support immune system function and are our go-to’s when we’re feeling a little run down.
- Garlic, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, and turmeric: Can be added to your cooking to boost immunity and reduce inflammation in the body.
3. LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Although you may be tempted to indulge in a little wine out of boredom, stress or even to celebrate being at home with your family or partner (especially now that alcohol is once again for sale in the shops), try to avoid excessive consumption. In fact, we recommend cutting it out altogether. Alcohol disrupts the gut barrier, allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood and reduces the number and function of macrophages, T and C cells – all of which are crucial to a well-functioning immune system.
4. KEEP CALM & ZEN ON
When “stressed out” or anxious, your body produces stress hormones, which can suppress your immune system. So, in this incredibly challenging time for the human race, make sure you spend some time on some activities that minimize stress – doing a puzzle, practising mindfulness and breathing exercises, give meditation a go, do yoga in your bedroom, take an exercise class, get into your garden, or start cooking. Whatever makes you feel relaxed and happy—do more of that!
In a study conducted by Joe Dispenza and his team, average IgA levels (an antibody protein that forms part of your immune system) went up by 49.5% on average when study participants elevated their emotional state by practising love, joy, gratitude and inspiration for 10 minutes, three times a day.
5. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep. To. Feel. Unbelievable. Sleep is a wonderful immune booster and let’s face it, a good REM sleep not only feels good, but it also grounds you by giving both your body and your mind the rest it needs to mentally, physically and emotionally stave off whatever comes your way. Studies have shown huge benefits to the immune system and an increased number of T-cells (immune cells which protect the body from cancer cells and other pathogens) when getting your full sleep quota.