Isolation and Immunity
The current situation has left more people than not, working from home. One of the biggest fears of being isolated at home for many of us is, remaining healthy. How do you keep your immunity high, or can you maybe give it some help? Choices made at this time are vital to our overall health.
How we conduct our “Isolation period” will affect the outcome of, not only our mental, but physical health in the long term. Protecting both are equally important. If you are eating healthily, but not taking some sort of daily exercise, you are not going to be able to maintain a healthy immune system. Immunity is all about balance.
Immunity means exemption or resistance. If you’re protected against something, you have immunity to it. Our immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defend and protect us against infection.
Our immune system keeps track of every germ (microbe) it has ever fought and conquered, so it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again. With such an important job to do, wouldn’t it be good to “arm” it with essentials?
Well, boosting your immunity is really an idealistic thought to help us feel like we are doing all we can to remain healthy.
The truth is, you can support and strengthen the immune system by providing it with all the essential ingredients, this will help of course, but the immune system is a “System” it requires balance and harmony to function optimally. Boosting it will put it under unnecessary pressure and may even weaken it.
Taking vast quantities of Vitamin C for example and exercising to exertion will put your immune system under a great deal of stress. We are all also immunologically different, even family members will react differently to bacterial and viral infections, the advice I offer is general, none of us are invincible to the covid19.
We do all have one thing in common though, there needs to be internal and external balance in all of us to thrive, let’s start with daily exercise. … Please remember that being physically active is one of the best ways to prime and rejuvenate immunity.
Keeping your muscles active during this time and all the time actually, will support the thymus gland which is of great importance to immunity. It is a specialised primary lymphoid organ of the immune system. (Responsible for the T cells which are the master controllers of the immune system)
There are many home workouts available online, whatever you need, at whatever level you currently reside at, they are either free or at the very least offering 30 days free access to fitness and wellness tips and programmes. It is about making time daily to partake in one which is going to help you remain physically and mentally active.
A tip I learnt myself is to schedule an actual meeting appointment in your diary for a workout, you are more likely to complete it then.
Sleep is vital for immunity
- It is difficult to get a restful night of zzzzzzzz when so much is going on in the world, but to remain in good health, sleep is important. The body needs to shut down, repair and renew, 7-9 hours in a blackened out room with no digital devices is ideal, airplane mode on your devices is the next best thing. A window open slightly, if possible, to allow air circulation. Studies show a lack of sleep can affect your immune system.
- Studies also show that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick, the body is under extra stress, please bear this in mind and take steps to relax at night. Some helpful ways again are free online, breathing techniques or meditations.
- Protein Plays a huge role in healing and recovery of the immune system. Lean meats/eggs/legumes/soy products/nuts and seeds/peas/protein powder.
- Fats In particular omega-3 fatty acids may help to boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells. Chia seeds/Oily fish/Seaweed/algae/Flax/Walnuts/Edamame/Soy/cod-liver oil/krill oil/black seed oil/avocados
- Carbohydrates After exercise they help the immune system recover. Vegetables/whole grains/Whole fruits/Legumes/Choose grains that are truly whole, as in pure oats, quinoa, brown rice/Sweet potatoes
Foods For strengthening and supporting immunity.
Vitamin C seems to be the all powerful immune strengthener and will prevent colds and flus and infections. Foods that are high in vitamin C are as follow. …Grapefruit/Oranges/Tangerines/Lemons/Limes/Clementines, these are needed daily, as our bodies do not store Vitamin C.
Lemon in hot water is a great way to start the day, it has so many health benefits and has been recommended due to its high amounts of Vitamin C, potassium and folate. It will aid your immune system and keep your body healthy. It’s a great drink to get the liver working first thing in the morning too. A great detox drink.
2/Red Bell Peppers
Ounce for ounce red bell peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C than the citrus fruits mentioned above. Raw or cooked they are so versatile.
Such a supercharged vegetable, cook as little as possible unless you suffer with thyroid issues, fully cook if so. Not just packed with vitamin c, also vitamins, A and E plus antioxidants and fibre.
Found in so many dishes, Early civilisations recognised its amazing value for fighting infections, use it in dishes you cook as much as possible.
Decreases inflammation and reduces a sore throat. Ginger, hot water, lemon and maple syrup makes a great evening drink that will soothe you through the night if you have any symptoms starting.
High vitamin C, also packed with antioxidants to keep you healthy and fighting fit.
To increase the iron content found in spinach you can take a shot of pure orange juice 15 minutes before consuming it and your energy levels increase due to the increase in iron over time.
The more you cook spinach, the more nutrients you lose, wilted is best, using hot water to wilt.
The vitamin E in almonds is key to healthy immune systems.
My favourite, you can make amazing lattes with turmeric as-well as lentil dishes and high protein snacks, anti-inflammatory properties make this a must have in the kitchen.
Green tea excels in the antioxidant department, a great source of amino acid L-theanine which fights germs in your T-cells.
Chicken has long been known for its anti-bacterial properties, packed with B6 which helps form new healthy red blood cells. Zinc also present in chicken which is needed for cell growth.
Obviously there are many more immune supporting foods, but with food being limited at the supermarkets, these are the simplest ones to go for.
Vitamin D is also a problem with isolation , lots of people unable to get outside, the elderly are particulary vulnerable, vitamin d can be obtained through some foods, eggs, fish and mushrooms for example.
General Health Summary
1/Give up smoking or cut back
2/Eat lots of colours of fruit and vegetables. (Eat the rainbow if you can find the foods)
3/Exercise regularly (online)
4/Maintain a healthy weight (Do not exceed calories in v energy out)
5/Sleep 7-9 hours (Dark room, digital free)
6/Minimise stress. (Emotional stress has a bigger effect on physical well-being than you may realise. Excess stress can play a role in compromising your immune system).
7/Drink alcohol in moderation (Drink water with alcohol to minimise the damage)
8/Hydrate with lemon water daily
9/Stay in touch with friends and family (A message a day to keep in contact is all it takes)
10/Be kind to yourself (Treat yourself to a bath, early night)
Always consult a gp if you are worried about any symptoms, self isolate if you have any symptoms. Please do not start at an intermediate level if you have never exercised before, do however start daily at a level you are comfortable with. It is important to move daily.
Stay warm and dry when you have finished exercising. Any questions or ideas on how to make easy and fast snacks and foods that are healthy and tasty, look on my nutrition page or website.
Author of ‘The only F words you need in the kitchen”