Wellness

NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO FIGHT COVID-19

Photo-by-Stephen-Leonardi_UnsplashSource: Stephen Leonardi

BALANCE YOUR MIND, BOAST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM AND STAY ACTIVE

Your lifestyle choices will determine if you give yourself a better chance to stay healthy. It’s believed that quality exercise, nutrition, emotional and psychological wellbeing, and lifestyle choices can all benefit your immune system and help you feel as healthy as possible – especially during the current pandemic. Remember, there’s a direct relationship between what you eat, physical activity and your health. Essentially, a strong immune system won’t prevent you from contracting COVID-19, however, developing a strong immune system whilst you’re healthy can sustain your body as it familiarises itself with the new virus in the event you get sick. And it’s also imperative to take steps to boost your immune health so you can support your body to fight other common bugs such as the common cold or other flu viruses.

TOP 4 HEALTH HACKS:

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1. Stress and anxiety relief

It may be a stressful and anxious time for many during a pandemic but try to lower stress and anxiety levels because too much can weaken the immune system. Just by exercising you can release chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin and endorphins that can help improve your mood, reduce the risk of depression and cognitive decline, and delay onset of dementia.

Also, studies have shown that a healthy diet ­– rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and other lean protein – can help combat depression. Try a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods daily to get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants your body needs. And don’t forget to drink enough water because dehydration leads to higher cortisol levels which is the stress hormone and by staying hydrated, you’ll be better equipped to deal with stressful situations.

Yoga and meditation are also great ways to help anxiety. Deep breathing and mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. Engage in some daily mindfulness or meditation practices because it will minimise the effects of stress on the body’s immune system. If you want to learn how to meditate, try using apps like Headspace or Calm.

Stress and anxiety relief

2. Sleep well

Healthy lifestyle practices include getting quality sleep. Sleep is one of the most important health behaviours for optimal immune function, quality of life, positive mental and physical health. Adults should have at least seven hours of quality sleep. When you sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Therefore, lack of sleep may decrease production of these protective cytokines which won’t benefit your immune system. Bottom line: get enough sleep!

But if you’re travelling somewhere fewer than two days, we suggest keep to your own schedule because by the time your body adapts, it’ll be time to return home. If you plan to travel somewhere in a totally different time zone, three days before you’re scheduled to travel, adjust the time you sleep accordingly by either an hour earlier or later than you normally would. On the second evening, adjust by another hour, and on the third day adjust it again by a third hour so that you sync up with the new local schedule. If you land when people are awake in the middle of the day, stay awake too. Sleep as much as you can on the plane. If you land at night, do your best to stay awake on the plane and sleep at your destination.

3. Nutrition is key

Just like poor nutrition can deteriorate your immune system, quality nutrition can strengthen it. The best approach to prevent getting sick is to eat a balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, heart healthy fats and lean proteins. All of which will provide your body with the best variety of nutrients. Whilst you travel, it’s important to keep up healthy eating patterns.

Nutrition is key

Here’s a list of things to eat:

BLUEBERRIES

Flavonoids can play an essential role to keep your respiratory tract’s immune defence system strong. Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost your immune system.

GREEN TEA

It will help strengthen the immune system because it protects it against oxidants and radicals. Polyphenols, potent plant antioxidants, are what’s believed to give green tea its immune-boosting effects. Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine, so it as a good alternative to coffee.

TURMERIC

This can also improve a person’s immune response because it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects as well as being a very strong antioxidant. It contains compounds with medicinal properties, and these compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin which is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and it is a very strong antioxidant. Curcumin helps your body fight foreign invaders and it also has a role in repairing damage.

ORANGES, GRAPEFRUIT, KIWIS, BROCCOLI AND STRAWBERRIES

Vitamin C, found in all these, can limit the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the human immune system with its antibodies that help fight against bacteria and infections.

vitamin C

NUTS, ALMOND BUTTER, LEAFY GREENS

Vitamin E is another essential antioxidant whose job is to fight cell damage and support the immune system. Plant based foods like nuts, almond butter and leafy greens are packed with vitamin E.

BEANS, LEGUMES, NUTS, SEEDS, OYSTERS

Zinc works as an antioxidant, boosts the metabolism and helps heal wounds.  It’s an essential mineral required for the proper functioning of more than 300 enzymes in the body. It’s also found in cells throughout the body and helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

SWEET POTATOES, CARROTS, APRICOTS AND SPINACH

Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system and protects against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. It’s known as an anti-infection vitamin because of its role in helping the body fight bacterial, parasitic and viral infections.

SALMON, MUSHROOMS, FORTIFIED MILK, CEREALS AND BREADS

Vitamin D is used to fight off infections, boosts the immune system and helps maintain strong bones. In fact, it’s so important for immune function that low levels of it have been associated with increased susceptibility to infection, disease and immune-related disorders. 

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GINGER

It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. Consuming ginger tea on an empty stomach, in the morning, could keep away illness and strengthen the immune system. Even in several Ayurvedic medicines ginger has been used as an active ingredient and this is due to the presence of gingerol, an active component that makes ginger a perfect immunity booster. The best way to use ginger is by adding raw ginger to your foods and drinks.

GARLIC

Since ancient times, fresh garlic has been used to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. It’s a popular natural antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal agent. It can help the body resist or destroy viruses and other microorganisms by boosting the immune system. It’s also a good home remedy for the prevention of colds and other illness.

4. Keep up with regular exercise

You can boost your immune system through exercise and physical activity. Do it regularly and it will help your immune system function well. Whether you have a regular daily workout routine, practice yoga, Pilates, hiking, cycling, or swimming, physically active people usually live longer than those who are inactive. If you don’t move your body regularly and you lead a sedentary lifestyle, there is an increased risk of chronic disease and decreased immune health. As we mentioned earlier, exercise can lower levels of anxiety and stress. Frequent exercise reduces blood pressure as well as risks of serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a stroke ­– when it’s paired a balanced nutritious diet. Keeping up with physical movement is just as important when you travel so try to stay motivated when you’re away from home.

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