As coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted communities around the world, many people have wondered whether there are steps they can take to improve their immune systems and stay healthy. We sat down with Nutritionist, Sarah Moore to explore steps to stay healthy during these uncertain times.
The body’s immune system defends us with a complex web of balanced activity. Not enough and we risk infection, too much and we get an overreaction causing inflammation. While it is impossible to ‘boost’ your immune system, we can make sure our immune system is at its best by focusing on keeping a healthy body and mind. Here are 5 ways you can stay fighting fit.
Being malnourished or deficient in nutrients such as iron, zinc folic acid and vitamins B12, C, D and E can prevent your immune system from being able to work as it should. Simply eating a wide and varied, healthy diet that meets your energy needs is enough to keep deficiencies at bay for most people. If you are prone to nutrient deficiencies, address these with the help of your health care professional.
Processed ‘junk’ foods and alcohol have negative impact on immune system function. Limit these foods and beverages as much as you can, and focus on plenty of fresh, colourful nutritious foods instead.
Sufficient sleep and rest are essential for your immune system. While it isn’t always possible to have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, managing your evenings and mornings so you can spend more time in bed, reducing screen time before sleep and aiming for 8 hours a night can help give you more beneficial rest.
There is plenty of evidence telling us that reducing stress is important for immune function. It’s no surprise that when you are stressed and feeling run down that you get sick. Finding moments throughout the day to focus on being present, calm and in the moment can have a big impact on your stress levels. Try a few stretches, a quiet cup of tea in your favourite chair, guided mediation, or even 5 slow, deep breaths to centre yourself every time you wash your hands.
Regular exercise improves your overall fitness which helps your immune system function. Studies have shown that regular bouts of moderate intensity exercise (where you huff and puff) throughout the week can reduce your susceptibility to viruses. Low impact exercises like walking, stretching, yoga, and gardening count too.
Respiratory viruses are transferred between people in droplets from sneezing, coughing and blowing our noses. Everyday preventive measures, such as handwashing, social distancing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and good hygiene, can go a long way in reducing your risk for viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.
This update is brought to you by Nutritionist, Sarah Moore.