Would you like to know how to support your immune system during lockdown?  Would you like to create a healthy environment for your body and mind to thrive, to optimise your health during this pandemic? Great! i will endevour to convey postive information on how to support your health with life style choices and supplements to support immunity at this time.

Food choices

The obvious – a healthy diet. Whatever your type of diet, clean it up. Reduce carbohydrates, which seem to be the biggest culprit for most of us. These include sugars, sweets, chocolates, dried fruit, fruit, soda, icecream, bread, rice, pasta, potatoes. Identify what is on your plate so that you understand what you are consuming. Include some carbs (fresh fruit, rice, potatoes, pasta or bread) but make sure they are not your main or only source of food. Reduce or eliminate processed foods. Increase your vegetable servings. This will not only improve your physical health but also positively impact your mental health(1).

Sleep

Improve your sleep cycle by exposing yourself to natural day light everyday. Go out for a walk, preferrably in the morning. It doesn’t have to be long, 10 minutes will help. The natural light will activate your bodies melatonin that regulates your circadium rhythm which determines your sleep cycle. Regulating this cycle can also be highly beneficial to enhancing your mood. Disruption of the circadium rhythm has been associated with cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairments, metabolic syndrome, SAD, aging, diabetes, obesity, and other high grade inflammatory diseases (2)(3).

The blue light emitted from your smart phone, tablets and laptops have also been associated with disrupting the circadium rhythm(4). Therefore, it is strongly suggested that you stop any use of those devices at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Make sure that you don’t sleep with your smart phone beside your bed. Leave it in another room.

Epsom Salts Bath

Relax in a hot Epsom salts bath to help you get a good nights sleep. You could even add a few drop of lavendar oil to aid in relaxation. Lie in the bath for at least 20 mins. Do not rinse off, just dry and snuggle up in bed.

Essential oil diffuser

Get a little electric essential oil diffuser for your bedroom. Apart from smelling great, essential oils can aid in relaxation(16).

Eat late?

Another important tip, do not eat late. Allow your body to do the housekeeping it is meant to do while you sleep. If you eat late, it will will distrated by having to digest. I’m sure you are fully aware of what your home looks like if you don’t do your regular housekeeping. Imagine the long term effects on your body.

Movement

This 3rd lockdown, during the winter months, has resulted in many of us, not getting outside to exercise as much as we would like. However, please do go out for a walk (if possible), as discussed in the sleep paragraph. Join an exercise class on Zoom. If that isn’t possible due to financial issues, look for a free pilates, yoga Tai Chi, Hiit video on YouTube or join Coast Youtube channel for many great stretching and exercise videos. Regardless of your fittness level, there is always something you can add as a daily routine to improve your physical fitness, e.g. repetitions of seated to standing from a chair, repetitions of up and the stairs(if you have some). Once again, this will benefit you physically and mentally to optimise your health during this pandemic(5).

Movement will also improve your lymphatic system which is critical to immunity(6). I have written a blog previously on how to improve/support the lymphatic system. Please follow the link for more information.

Deep breathing/Meditation

Continued stress has a huge impact on our physical and mental health. Research shows that social isolation alters or suppresses the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and glutamate, to name a few. Isolation has also been shown to reduce receptor site sensitivity of these neurotranmitters resulting in physical disorders supressing immunity and metabolism. These neurotransmitters also control our ability to feel ‘happiness’ via our central nervous system, increasing pyschological distress, anxiety and mental illness(7).

It is vital that we help ourselves and curb the impact that continued isolation is having on our minds and bodies; as important as doing a bit of exercise or eating a healthier diet. There is a simple and highly effective way of doing this, plus it’s free; deep breathing or if you prefer to call it meditation(8).

i am fully aware of how resistent many people are of doing this. As a practitioner (Chiropractor and Functional Medicine), this is one of the most difficult daily practices to get a patient to commit to. So much so, that last month I offered my patient base a Free Daily Meditation over 12 Days to try to help people and allow them to feel the benefits. I was hoping this would hopefully lead them to continue with a daily habit of breath or meditation work?

Try this breathing technique

For those of you that are already shutting down – just try this quick simple technique.

  • Breathe in through your nose for the count of 4
  • Hold your breath for the count of 7
  • Breathe out through your mouth for the count of 8
  • Repeat x5 breaths frequently thoughout the day (at least before getting out of bed, eatting and sleeping)

In the first lockdown I did free weekly Monday morning meditations on facebook. They are still there if you would like to give them a try. Just ‘LIKE’ Coast Facebook Page and you will see them under videos.

Smart phone meditation apps

Ever tried a meditation app on your smart phone? They are easy to use and convenient.  There are many of them. Take a look and if you need help, just drop me a line.

Reduce fear based repetitive information

Lastly, reduce anxiety by reducing all the fear based media (including the News) information. A lot of it is misleading and you really don’t need to hear it everyday or continuously, throughout the day. Do some breathing instead.

Social support

Connection with others is part of retaining mental and physical health. Isolation has severed social links for many people, especially for those living alone. So how to overcome this hurdle? Set up walks with another person. Video communication is a really good idea.

If you are one of those living alone and you can’t seem to reach out to someone to benefit your own health; then think about that other person. You’d be doing them a real favour. Give them a call.

Supplements

Supplementation with nutraceuticals and botanical products can be helpful. The most common argument I hear against this is – I eat healthy food. This may be true, however, many of our crops are not rotated and therefore the soil the crops are grown in are nutrient defiecient. Another problem could be they are picked before being ripened by the sun and therefore once again, lacking.

I always suggest you speak with your practitioner before starting on a supplement programme to help you optimise your health during this pandemic.

Below is list of helpful supplements:
  • Curcumin:  500-1,000 mg, 2x daily. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease viral activity for COVID-19(10).
  • Quercetin: 1,000 mg, 2x daily. Quercetin is found in fruits and vegetables and has a wide range of benefits, including decreasing viral growth(11,12).
  • Zinc: 30-60 mg daily. A large body of research shows that zinc has strong anti-viral properites against many viruses(11).
  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): 600-900 mg, 2x daily. N-acetylcysteine promotes the production of glutathione, a potent antioxidant that supports immune function. It also reduces the severity of the flu.
  • Glutathoine: A study suggests depletion may have a central role in COVID-19 mortality and pathophysiology. Therefore, elevating levels in tissues may de-crease the severity and mortality rates of COVID-19(9).
  • Vitamin D3: 3,000- 5,000 IU daily. Vitamin D enhances immune system function, reduces viral growth, and can reduce upper respiratory infections(11,13).
  • Vitamin A: 10,000-25,000 IU, daily. Vitamin A is antiinflammatory, enhances immune function, and supports the lining of the respiratory tract(11).
  • Vitamin C: 1-3 g, daily. Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system. Vitamin C has been used in hospital ICUs to treat COVID-19 infection(11, 14).
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): Elderberry is packed with vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. It has been used extensively in the prevention of influenza(10).
  • Green tea: 4 cups daily. In addition to reducing inflammation, green tea enhances the immune system and targets one of the processes involved in COVID-19 replication(11).
  • Resveratrol: 100-150 mg, 2x daily. Resveratrol, a natural compound found in red grapes, has many beneficial health effects and has been shown in the lab to attack a relative of the COVID-19 virus (15).
  • Beta glucans: 250-500 mg daily. Beta glucans are both antiinflammatory and enhance immune function while specifically benefitting those with upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses(11).
  • Licorice root: Supports immune system function and reduces viral growth (10).

In conclusion

Health is a balancing act of the afore mentioned subjects. We usually are lacking in one, more or many of these areas.  I hope this formation helps you determine which areas of your life you need to improve or if in doubt, ask someone like myself, a Functional Medicine Practitioner, to give you a plan. Either way, i hope you have found this article helpful and realise, if you would you like to create a healthy enviroment for your body and mind to thrive and optimise your health during this pandemic, it is possible.

Written by Anne French

References

1.The role of diet and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing

2. Protecting the Melatonin Rhythm through Circadian Healthy Light Expsoure 

3. Association between light at night, melatonin secretion, sleep deprivation and the internal clock: Health impacts and mechanisms of circadian disruption

4. Blue light disrupts the circadium rhthm and create damage in skin cells

5. Effects of physical exercise on depressive symptoms and biomarkers in depression

6. The Lymphatic System: Integral Roles in Immunity

7. Potential Neurochemical and Neuroendrocrine Effects of Social Distancing Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic

8. The Effects of Stress and Mediation on the Immune System, Human Micobiota and Epigenetics

9. Could glutathione depletion be the Trojan horse of COVID-19 mortality?

10. Botanical drugs and supplements affecting the immune response in the time of Covid-19: Implications for research and clinical practice

11. The Functional Medicine Approach to Covid-19: Virus Specific Nutraceutical and Botanical Agents

12. Quercitin as an Antiviral Agent Inhibits Influenza A Virus (IAV) Entry

13. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: individual participant data meta-analysis

14. Vitamin C – An Adjunctive Therapy for Respiratory Infection, Sapsis and Covid-19

15. Indomethacin and resveratrol as potential treatment adjuncts for SARS-Cov-2/Covid-19

16. Bergamot Essential Oil Attenuates Anxiety-Like Behaviour in Rats

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