Practical Tips to Support Your Immune system and stay well during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the Coronavirus pandemic escalating, and having an impact on almost every area of our lives: socially, psychologically, physically and financially. It is difficult not to get caught up in fear.

Being in a perpetual sate of stress hinders our body’s natural healing process. Feeling anxious and worried is also a distressing state to be in; often producing psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, increased sensitivity to pain, and insomnia.

I understand that there are very real concerns as a result of this virus. We may have loved ones affected, our retirement fund might have tanked, and we may find isolation difficult. 

However, to quote Eckhart Tolle, Yes, we have to DEAL with stressful things, but we don’t have to WORRY about them. Maybe easy for Eckhart, you might think, but there are things YOU can do to keep yourself well. Below are some general guides, please contact me if you would like a plan specific to your concerns.

First: I want to point out that there is a lot of misinformation, disinformation and confusion about COVID-19. Even Scientists and Health care professionals at the front line do not fully understand it yet.  We are learning new things every day, and guidelines are changing rapidly as a result.

There are things we know, things we don’t know, things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know. (I borrowed that quote from Donald Rumsfeld when asked about the ‘threat’ of WMD at the time of the lraq war, but it is relevant here).

With this in mind, be very careful about the media you follow.  See also my comment in the last newsletter about restricting watching too much news: stay informed, but please do not scare yourself watching the same sensational headlines over and over.  

Also, accept that our daily lives have changed. The social restrictions are unprecedented (in my lifetime) and we do not know how long they will be in place.  However, rather than see them as a negative look for the good….

For example, social distancing and self-isolation gives us time for self-reflection.  It does not have to mean social isolation. We can telephone, facetime / whatsapp/skype friends and family around the world.  It’s the perfect excuse to reach out to old friends and distant family.

Self-isolation can be an incentive for self-improvement. There are so many online courses, classes and activities. Many are offered for free.  So whether you want a University level course on Virology, a Flamenco dance routine, or a tour of the Guggenheim Museum, you can do this. Awesome!  Or you can just get lost in a good novel…..

We can also use this time to establish a good self-care practice. This will serve us well throughout our lives, regardless of the storms we will weather.

As a kick off to self-care, I am using this newsletter to focus on strengthening the Immune system.

We know that a weak immune system makes us vulnerable to the more serious effects of the Coronavirus (and many other diseases). Below are some practical tips to enhance the immune system and build resilience.

First, lets start by making sure we wash our hands! J

Food: Glorious food

A strong immune system requires an optimal intake of essential nutrients and a healthy gut microbiome. Focus on nutrient dense whole foods, and ditch processed and empty calorie foods.

Put some colour on your plate: Eat a variety of different coloured foods with every meal. This will ensure that you’re achieving a good daily intake of micronutrients, (For example vitamin A, B, C, Zinc, magnesium and selenium). Also increase your daily intake of foods with a high antioxidant content such as berries, dark leafy greens  (e.g. kale, cavolo nero, spinach) and cacao (high quality dark chocolate).  Ramping up your intake of citrus fruits, will offer further protection for your immune system, as well as respiratory tract.

Bring back the broth:. Vegetable and bone broths are packed with the healing amino acid, L-glutamine, this improves the health of the gut wall, which in turn helps to reduce inflammation. Supporting gut resilience is vital in boosting immunity (Most of you have my bone broth recipe, if you need it again, contact me).

Good gut health also requires pro-biotics, and pre-biotics. Prebiotic foods include onions, garlic, leeks, and Jerusalem artichokes. Probiotics include raw sauerkraut and kefir or kombucha.

Spice it up!  A Ginger, turmeric and black pepper combination is a great immune enhancing combination.  It is also anti-flammatory. Many herbs such as sage and oregano also have anti-viral properties. Use them in food or make a tisane.

Stay hydrated.  I cannot stress how important it is to ensure you drink plenty of water.  Water is essential for almost every organ and process in our body. It helps to wash any lingering pathogens in the throat down into the digestive tract, where stomach acid and the GI tract immune system will help kill them off. 

We know that COVID-19 enters our system through the mucus membranes so it is extra important to maintain hydration, especially for my “Desert Darlings” and people in dry air-conditioned atmospheres.

Breathe…. Properly. The way we breathe has a direct effect our sympathetic nervous system response. Otherwise known as the ‘fight or flight’ or ‘freeze’ instinct.

By Implementing deep breathing techniques we can help to shift our nervous system into a state of calm. Deep breathing also helps to combat inflammation and strengthens lung function.

There are many techniques out you can use. For example, The Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT) used by physiotherapists to help clear the lungs and support respiratory conditions; The 4-7-8 technique, which helps reduce anxiety; The Alternate Nostril technique, which enhances cardiovascular function and reduces anxiety; Humming Bee breath (Bhramari), or a simple Breath focus technique.

It is a good idea when practicing deep breathing to perform the techniques sitting down, just incase you get dizzy.

Please note Deep breathing is NOT the same as fast /excessive breathing. That is hyperventilating. We don’t want that! Remember slow and steady breathing.

For more guidance, please contact me.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have access to nature, then Spend Time Outdoors in the fresh air.  Or take a moment on an evening to look at the stars.  

It’s a beautiful World!

Stay well, stay pro-active, and stay positive.

This will pass

Much Love,

Dr. Jenny

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