There is no surprise to the reason behind this email today, So without further ado, my aim for this newsletter is to give you a practical take home message about how to stay strong and proactive during this pandemic of the Corona Virus or (Covid-19) especially the unknown certainly about the near future and how it may impact us.
With our skin as our first line of defense its a no brainer to practice common sense when it comes to washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, not touching your face and mouth, greeting people without the physical touch etc. But that is not the topic of the day. I want to give you the most practical approach to strengthening your immune system, which is not just about taking Vitamin C.
To break it down into lego blocks, the most important factors that can affect the immune system on a macro level in no particular order are:
• Physical Activity
• Daily habits/Lifestyle
So I will touch on each of these factors briefly so that you can do a checklist of your own and ensure you are making an effort to improve each and every one of them.
A recent article written by James Schend and Medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN RD, stated the top 15 foods that can boost the immune system, which I have listed below. Now before reading this, please be advised that if you are not following a balanced sustainable diet, having too much caffeine, are suffering a current illness and have no structure to your nutrition, eating these foods may not necessarily improve your immune system, you also need to take into account how much of the antioxidant and immune boosting compounds in these foods will be absorbed which is affected by the way you cook them, as well as the condition in which you purchase them, to name only a couple of factors. Everything within reason and with a balanced approach:
• Bell peppers
• Green tea
• Sunflower seeds
• Other options
Ensure that even if you are following a balanced diet, that you consider supplementation. Certain nutrients either aren’t absorbed optimally or are not produced by your body. Which means you need additional help to supplement your diet.
A list of my top favorite supplements specifically with regards to immune health are:
* Vitamin C 1000mg
Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health, especially of the immune system.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine.
Consuming adequate cysteine and NAC is important for a variety of health reasons — including replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione. These amino acids also help with chronic respiratory conditions, fertility and brain health. You can purchase NAC as a supplement on its own.
It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses
In a nutshell, garlic contains compounds that can help the body fight the immune system
* Probiotic – you can take an over the counter version or try and get in food sources such as sauerkraut and plain yoghurt provided you do not have any dairy intolerances, as these foods contain cultures that can assist with strengthening the immune system.
Stress can weaken the immune system further and make a person more susceptible to illness – this can’t always be measured so we need to be extra vigilant about our own workload, time management and control what we can where we can.
Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress e.g poor eating habits, smoking, drug use or over drinking.
Some research also shows that a person who is under excessive stress is more likely to get sick and furthermore stress is linked to: headaches; infectious illness (e.g. ‘flu); cardiovascular disease; diabetes, asthma and gastric ulcers. What’s more important is that many of us are already under severe stress, and this chronic stress can lead to a long term suppression of the immune system (and even lead to Hypertension and gastric ulcers Kiecolt-Glaser et al., (1984)).
Guys try to be mindful of the above, and include daily practices that may reduce and manage stress such as implementing time management strategies, reducing workload where possible, including meditation, or other anxiety reducing practices such as yoga or tai chi into your fitness routines. Aim as much as possible to stay calm during this time.
Regular exercise keeps the body healthy. In addition to strengthening the body, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that reduce stress levels to address the point above. However, those with weak immune systems should be careful not to push themselves too hard over-training can weaken the immune system further. If you are training in a public facility ensure that you are constantly wiping your hands with disinfectant, furthermore that you aren’t continually touching your water bottle, ideally using a straw or a bottle with a suction cap that you don’t have to keep touching. It does also have to be accounted for that yes, whilst you are training your immune system can during this time be compromised, however if you are otherwise healthy with no preexisting respiratory or other immune diseases, there is no reason that if you are practicing correct hygiene that you shouldn’t continue exactly as you are.
Most of us are in a subconscious routine – especially during the weekday without knowing it, and this usually involves rushing. Over the next few weeks and possibly months, become pertinently aware of what you are doing, and check, then double and triple check that none of your daily habits, such as rubbing your eyes or face when you get stressed, taking your phone with you to the bathroom, cooking on a surface before having sterilized it etc could be placing your immune system under unnecessary stress.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation can have a similar effect on the body’s immune system that stress does. The body’s production of white blood cells, which is our the main component of our defense system or immunity is disrupted. It is well known that adults should be aiming to get a minimum of 7 hours sleep per day, this is confirmed by the CDC. Yes of course, many view this as a perfect world and can’t achieve this. So if you can’t focus on quantity, aim to improve the quality of your sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene. For example, set up a healthy routine 30 mins before going to bed, aim to not be exposed to bright lights, don’t drink or eat anything, practice deep breathing, read, write a to-do list for the next day, pour some lavender drops on your pillow, don’t consume any caffeine from at least 4 hours before going to bed etc etc.
I hope that this has been useful to you, and even if it all seems obvious, a good reminder is never a bad thing.
Stay healthy everyone!!
Dynamite – @trainingwithsarah
Dynamite Training | Biokineticist | Online coach | Internationally Sponsored Fitness Bikini Athlete
My fitness journey began when I hung up my Ultra marathon running shoes, in exchange for crop tops, leggings and deadlifts. My passion for lifting weights and sculpting my body grew, and before I knew it I was placing in the top 5 in all the fitness shows I entered. With determination , discipline, the help of my incredible coach Jack Lotter, and belief in myself I became an internationally sponsored Fitness Bikini Athlete. I have always been involved in the health and fitness industry and I’m passionate in helping others overcome not only injury or chronic disease, but become better and more improved versions of themselves. My favourite saying is “start as you mean to go on.” In other words, if you want something, plot out a path to achieve it. Make a dream a reality and it soon becomes a goal. Thats how you learn to achieve YOUR “impossible.”
I also write for the sweet life magazine, which is a publication aimed at Diabetics…Sweet Life Mag