COVID-19 is a new coronavirus strain that our immune systems have not encountered before, but thankfully there are many simple and inexpensive ways to support and improve your immune system to ward off and tackle any symptoms.
This complex circulatory network of leucocytes (white blood cells) and protein antibodies is key to the body’s protective functions against germs and pathogens, and its ability to effectively respond to these is determined by how much we nurture and look after it.
It’s a good time to boost your immune system with Barbara’s easy and convenient guide;
Eating a Varied Nutritious Diet
You can provide your immune system the necessary fuel to function by eating a varied nutritious diet that includes high-fibre foods and foods rich in vitamins. Fibre, vitamin C and vitamin D, in particular, are all proven to have immune-boosting properties and can be found in wholegrain foods, citrus fruits, green vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and fish.
Now is a good time to start introducing ginger tea into your daily routine – not only does it help poor circulation but is beneficial to digestion and the respiratory system:
Crush an inch of ginger root, add it to boiling water and allow it to steep for 10 minutes before straining and sipping the liquid. Honey and lemon can be added to make it more palatable. This homemade tea may reduce inflammation safely in the same amount of time as many over-the-counter medications.
Before breakfast – and especially if you have a sinus problem – it is also wise to check your tongue to see if fungi/bacteria has created a post-nasal drip. If your tongue is coated, use a tongue scraper before eating as the food will take the infection down with it to the gastrointestinal tract and create a digestive problem over time.
Getting Enough Physical Activity
Alongside a healthy diet, physical activity stimulates your white blood cells and activates them in targeting unwelcome microbes and bacterium.
As it is recommended to stay home, finding ways to exercise or keep active at home is more important than before and can be easily implemented with simple daily routines involving aerobic exercises, such as jumping jacks and skipping, that can improve breathing capacity and blood flow.
For older individuals, who are more vulnerable, it is recommended to aim for as much physical movement or activity as possible.
Managing Wellbeing and Stress
Our mental wellbeing and stress levels have a big impact on our immune system’s ability to function properly, so making sure to manage these is vital.
Ways we can de-stress and relax during this time include reading, looking out the window or spending time in the garden, listening to relaxing music, communicating with loved ones and performing exercise itself, which releases natural endorphins in the brain that boost feelings of happiness.
Meditation is also a sure way to reduce stress altogether and can be easily done by sitting comfortably in a quiet space, focusing on something present, such as the flow of your breathing, and observing and accepting your emotions rather than feeling them.
Maintaining Good Sleep
Sleep is our body’s time to repair and recharge, and our immune system suffers as a result of prolonged lack of sleep.
Getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep is recommended each night, and we can improve this by making sure to complete at least five of the 90-minute sleep cycles, which progress into a deeper sleep and subsequently greater stages of reparation and restoration for both the mind and body.
A good diet, consistent exercise routine and managing stress will together result in high-quality sleep every night to help strengthen our immune systems.
If you are aware of any shortness of breath, especially when you lie down at night, it is also a good idea to have a diffuser beside your bed releasing an essential oil that may help open your nasal passages to allow more oxygen as you sleep. My favourite is the “Breathe Easier” mix of essential oils designed to support the lungs.
Support Your Immune System Via the Lungs
As COVID-19 is particularly harmful to the lungs, it is just as important to make sure our lungs are in good health to properly distribute oxygen to our infection-fighting blood cells.
Many of us do not realise that we are shallow breathing: not taking the air deep down into our lungs. If this becomes a habit over a long period of time, the lower lobes of your lungs may start to close as they are not being expanded. When this happens, it allows a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi to expand and create shortness of breath that can often be mistaken for asthma, bronchitis and other various lung diseases.
The Power of the Breath – Barbara Saker Naturopath
The following exercise is one sure way of getting the oxygen deep into your body, and may be easily done by the sick and disabled:
Lie on your back and place your hands with your fingertips lightly touching across your navel. Exhale and breathe in until you can feel your stomach expand and your fingertips separate. Hold as long as you can, then exhale bringing your fingertips back together as your stomach flattens. Try to do this five times a session, gently without getting exhausted, then repeat twice over the day.
This is a simple way of increasing oxygen levels and supporting your heart and lungs. Our downloadable e-book “The Power of the Breath” includes various exercises to help with expanding lung capacity easily and safely. With the present pandemic that we are all facing, we need our lungs to be free of congestion, bacteria and mould to give us a fighting chance.
Taking care of our immune systems with a healthy lifestyle is our best defence against the coronavirus, along with following official advice and guidelines on proper handwashing and hygiene, social distancing and remaining at home where possible.
If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, use the symptom checker on healthdirect. And if you are currently experiencing any serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.