COVID-19: NATURAL AND HOLISTIC WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
COVID-19: NATURAL AND HOLISTIC WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY
The current situation with regards to COVID 19 is changing daily. At this time it is really important to maintain social isolation, support our health and well-being and strengthen our immune system to help fight this infection. With this in mind I have put together things that we can do to look after ourselves and our loved ones at this time.
Stress has a huge impact on our immune system and at this time in particular many of us are anxious and stressed.
The stress response is a survival response i.e.it is concerned with immediate life or death situations. This results in the body diverting resources away from what it considers non vital functions such as immunity, digestion, reproduction etc.
Therefore when we are stressed we tend to have poor immunity and are more likely to come down with infections.
Ways to manage stress:
Meditation - this is a well-researched method of reducing stress and has been shown to have many health benefits. There are many techniques but it can be as simple as just spending 5 to 10 minutes just focusing on your breath to begin with if you have never done it before. There are many techniques and guided meditations available on You Tube.
Exercise- this is another well researched strategy to reduce stress and promote well-being. 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise each day helps to improve mood, aids restful sleep, helps balance blood sugars.
If you are having to self-isolate and feel well enough, then just walking around your room, apartment or house will have a benefit, light stretches, yoga are all good. If you have a garden then you can walk around outside. Of course if you are not well enough to do this then don’t force yourself. Listen to your body. If you are able to do more that is great!
Sleep and rest- the body does many of its “housekeeping” functions when we sleep. If we do not sleep well then this can have a great impact on our health and reduce our immunity. Here are some sleep hygiene practices you could try:
make sure the room is dark(black out curtains or blinds) and the temperature is pleasant and not too warm.
Avoid bright lights and gadgets at least an hour before bed. Many studies have shown that blue light exposure in the evening can have a negative effect on our natural sleep-wake cycle as the brain perceives it as daylight.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Exercise- as little as 10 minutes exercise during the day can aid night time sleep.
Support the immune system through diet:
There are many foods that are well known to be effective at strengthening the body’s natural defence system and boosting immunity. Eating a wide variety will give you most of the vitamins and minerals you need including vitamin C.
Fruits and vegetables – it is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. They are rich in many vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and fibre. Try to include citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, pomegranate, apples, berries, grapes, as well as vegetables such as bell peppers, cabbage, spinach, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, beans and pulses. The above are a few examples but there are many more. The key message is to have a variety of fruits and vegetables, try and “eat the rainbow” and eat a variety of different coloured fruit and veg.
Immunity boosting herbs and spices- Herbs and spices are a great way to boost the immune system. They are available dried so great to keep at home if you are unable to get to the shops for a while.
Some herbs and spices to incorporate in your cooking are:
Oregano, sage, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cinnamon.
Herbal Teas are an excellent way to incorporate herbs and spices into your diet and have many health benefits as well as increasing hydration. In addition they have a long shelf life so are easy to store. Remember to stay hydrated.
Other foods to consider for immunity
Sources of “good fats” such as oily fish, nuts e.g. walnuts, almonds, olive oil, avocados.
Fermented foods such as live yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi which are good pre and probiotic foods for our gut.
Vitamin D is really important for a healthy immune system. Our body makes vitamin D from direct exposure to sunlight. From March to September we should be able to make enough Vitamin D for our needs. This will be difficult for people who are self-isolating and particularly if you are elderly and may be isolated for months.
Ways to boost vitamin D:
· Short periods in the sun daily with forearms, hands or legs uncovered and no sunscreen help boost vitamin D. TAKE CARE NOT TO BURN.
· Sitting by a closed window in sunlight will NOT boost vitamin D as ultraviolet B rays which are needed to make vitamin D are filtered by the glass. So if weather and health permit sit by an open window in direct sunlight.
· If you are lucky enough and have an isolated balcony or garden then sit in the sunshine when you can.
· Light skinned people need about 15 minutes a day and darker skinned people need more aim for about 30 minutes (this does not need to be in one go and always listen to your body). Just do what you can even 5 minutes is OK.
· Supplements- sometimes supplementation is necessary. Always follow the recommendations on doses unless instructed by your healthcare practitioner.
Food sources of Vitamin D- Salmon, tuna, mackerel, eggs, mushrooms, many cereals and other foods are fortified with vitamin D such as some dairy products, plant based milks etc. (check the labels).
Other important lifestyle interventions.
Daily Routines: Try to maintain a routine, getting up, showered and dressed is important especially if isolating for long periods
Social communication- keep up communicating with family and friends via face-time, Whats App, phone calls etc. this is vital for well-being. Research has shown that positive interactions and nurturing relationships affect our physiology in a positive way and help with mood and immunity.
Laugh and stay positive- watch comedies and other light hearted shows. Stay positive! Again research shows that this has a beneficial impact on health and well-being.
Our body is an amazing creation, if we give it all the resources it needs we can increase our chances of fighting this infection.
We are all in this together, if you are feeling lonely or isolated reach out to friends, family or neighbours.
Mind.org has some useful information on loneliness.
If you have any questions please email me:
Please note if you have chronic health conditions, restricted diet or allergies please consult your health practitioner before making changes.