Immune boosting tips during the COVID-19 pandemic
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 (let us know if you need any recipe inspo).
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 may support immune system function
- Zinc containing foods such as nuts and seeds, seafood and qood 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.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and processed foods
They don't 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 against infecions and a speedy recovery.
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, and get quality sleep
Getting a good night's sleep of approximately 7 hours is crucial for the body's repair mechanisms. The light from screens affects the 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 exercises to manage stress and anxiety
Deep breaths into your belly are a quick and effective way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. The PNS 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.
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 a positive mindset is going to be key in getting through this pandemic with a calm and community-focused approach.
Hygiene practices and sensible social distancing
The hygine practice guidelines are widely discussed, and include frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your face. Skipping large gatherings and busy shopping malls might be sensible too, although there certainly isn't a need to panic or completely isolate yourself if you have no reason to.
If you are in current cancer treatment and immunocompromised, it may be best to indeed stay home as much as possible, and lean on family and friends to grab necessary groceries for you (remember, people do want to help, so it's ok to reach out!). Speak to your Oncologist, Nurse Practitoner, Psychologist or even us here at MIOG if you are feeling anxious or confused at all, and we will try to help as best as we can.
What if you do get sick?
If you are feeling under the weather or do get sick with a virus, the team at MIOG can help you. There are herbal anti-viral remedies as well as nutritional supplements that can boost your immune response when your body needs it. Zoom and phone consultations are available and convenient, and we can post products to you as needed. Call us at 03 9571 7498 if you need anything at all.