5 Ways To Keep Your Immune Thriving In COVID-19
Do you find it perplexing that during these troubling times of COVID-19, we hear little to no advice from health authorities on ways we can effectively support our immune system?
Whilst taking steps to reduce our exposure to Covid-19 is undoubtedly one way to reduce the risk of infection, we also need to be considering what we can do each day to support healthy immune function, to ensure we're as healthy as possible - because lets face it - optimal health is ultimately your best defence against infection as well as reducing the severity of the side effects - should you come into contact with the virus.
We all know that COVID-19 is a virus, and viruses have been with us for thousands of years, in fact it's safe to say that we have and will continue to be infected with several viruses over the course of our lifetime - ranging from the common flu, through to the Herpes family of viruses - namely EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) - commonly known as glandular fever and CMV - cyto megalo virus. But what causes one person to suffer the affects of a virus more than another, often boils down to the state of their immune system and underlying health.
Because viruses are opportunists, they like to prey on the weak and vulnerable, so the key to reducing your risk of infection, along with the effects viruses like COVID-19 can have on your health, is to support your immune system to enusre it's functioning optimally.
So what are the most effective & scientifically proven ways to support a healthy immune I hear you ask?
Below I've listed my top 5 ways to do just that...
1. Remove inflammatory foods from your diet
Chronic low-grade inflammation is no doubt the biggest contributor to the majority of health and lifestyle diseases, and one of the major drivers for this are poor dietary choices. Think foods containing sugar, artificial additives, gluten, processed cow's dairy, soy and corn and processed vegetable oils. Considering these foods form the basis of the western diet, is it any wonder that we're in the midst of a chronic illness epidemic - well before the current pandemic came about - and it's preexisting conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer that make us more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Replace these pro inflammatory foods with fresh, whole food sources - mainly from organic plant sources, combined with a moderate intake of clean protein sources - namely non-farmed fish, grass fed meats, organic eggs, and of course lots of healthy fats...AKA see exhibit 'A' below.
2. Reduce alcohol intake
One of the fall outs from COVID-19 has been the increase in alcohol consumption. Research commissioned by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare revealed many of us are drinking considerably more than before the COVID-19 pandemic - thanks to a combination of spending more time at home and the added pychological stresses inflicted by the pandemic. Alcohol is an immune suppressant, weakening your body's defensive mechanism to fight off a cold, viral or bacterial infection. So if you're wanting to support your immune as best as possible, it's essential to reduce alcohol consumption to a level that isn't compromising your health. I recommend a maximum of 1 standard alcoholic drinka, no more than 4 nights a week - if you're serious about being optimally healthy and if you're already immuno compromised, then it's best to avoid alcohol all together.
3. Reduce chronic stress
Chronic stress is synonymous with modern day living, and COVID-19 has only amplified the normal day to day stresses. The affects of chronic stress on our health are far reaching, and one of the major, if not the biggest contributor to chronic illness and disease. Chronic stress impacts our immune system by triggering a physiological response within our body known as the HPA (Hypothalamic, Pituitary, Adrenal) axis. When we're experiencing chronic stress, our body thinks we're under attack, and over time, being in this 'fight or flight' response mode can erode our immune defenses, cause hormonal imbalances, (consequently affecting our mood, sleep, sexual function and metabolism), as well as compromise our digestive function. Daily practices like meditation and mindfulness, are scientifically proven ways to reduce, even reverse the effects of chronic stress on our health.
4. Maintain a healthy gut
By now you've probably heard that the gut is our second brain, but did you know that the function of our gut also has a major influence on the function of our immune system? This is because around 70-80% of your immune system is contained within your guts microbiome, for the simple reason that the gut contains billions of bacteria, out numbering every cell in our body by a ratio of 10:1!
Maintaining a healthy balance of the 'good' bacteria that live within your gu