Whether you're self-isolating or still out and about, there are a number of things you can do to take control in the fight against COVID-19. here are a few tips and tricks from me to keep you safe during these times.
9 Ways To Boost Your Immune System
24-Mar 2020, by Lee Sandwith
9 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Paying attention to the published guidelines is super important so keep those in mind at all time: wash your hands, maintain social distancing, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth etc etc.
But there are also a few other things that you may not be aware of which could help boost your immune system.
Fundamentally, if your body is healthy to begin with, it is generally much stronger when it comes to fighting off infection so here are a few tips and tricks from me to keep you safe during these times.
When it comes to your health, sleep plays a fundamental role. While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to infection.
We’re designed to sleep when it’s dark and wake when the sun rises so if you’re routine is out of kilter with this natural rhythm then you may have issues.
If you’re all over the place with you sleep, try to keep a regular sleep-wake schedule by going to bed at roughly the same time, and getting up roughly at the same time.
It’s also super important to sleep in complete darkness so you may wish to consider investing in some high quality black out blinds. This also means removing all technology from the bedroom so there are no distractions so you should charge everything overnight in a different room.
It’s also helpful to sleep in a super cold room so make sure you set the AC super low in your bedroom. Your body will thank you for it.
You can read about sleep in a bit more depth in this article.
Top sleep tip: aim for complete darkness in the bedroom. Invest in black out blinds and charge all devices overnight in a different room.
2. Manage Stress
Stress overload increases the hormone cortisol, prolonged elevation of which suppresses immune function. There are lots of ways to manage stress but, in my humble opinion, the most direct route to stress management is meditation.
Personally, I practice just 10-20 minutes of basic Vipassana meditation every day and it has had a subtle but profound impact on my life.
You see, I used to be a bit of a hot head in my youth but I’m much more controlled these days. My meditation practice has taught me how to simply observe feelings and emotions for what they are.
The word “observe” is the key here as it’s extremely difficult to stop them. What you’re trying to stop is the reaction to those feelings. Observe, acknowledge, accept and then let go.
Stress is no exception to this paradigm.
Bringing mindfulness into your daily experience allows you to spot when negative emotions and stress start to creep in. You become much more aware of what’s coming and can deal with any negative emotions before it’s too late.
If meditation’s a bit “woo woo” for you, make sure to get plenty of exercise as it’s one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.
Exercise lowers your body's stress hormones and releases endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: now is the time to really focus on your diet. If you’re into keto you’re probably already well versed in the potential for keto to ward off sickness. It’s actually pretty common for anyone following keto to go for years without picking up a bug.
There’s actually plenty of science to back this up as many studies have demonstrated the benefits of keto in its ability to help improve the gut microbiome, to reduce inflammation and to improve insulin sensitivity.
Keto or not keto, the best approach during these times is to shoot for a high quality, wholefoods based diet.
Eating “real food” is the real medicine.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s naturally produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It has a number of functions, one of which is facilitation of normal immune system function. Getting out in the sunshine for 10-15 minutes per day should be enough to boost your Vitamin D levels but you may also wish to take a supplement if you’re not getting out enough.
When taken in sufficient amounts, probiotics can help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria which has a positive effect on your immune system. If you’re into getting all of your nutrients from food, probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and natto. Otherwise, it may be worth investing in a decent supplement such as Seed, the one that a lot of people seem to be raving about at the moment..
People often confuse the terms probiotic and prebiotic but it’s actually pretty straight forward. Probiotics are supplements which include "good" bacteria, so you’re actually increasing the biodiversity of your gut microbiome by adding more bacteria. Conversely, prebiotics are “food” for the bacteria already living in your system which helps your gut microbiome to flourish..
6. Bone Broth
If you want to boost your immune system in these times of Covid-19, you really need to concentrate on gut heath. You see, at least 70% of your immune system resides in the gut. It’s where bacteria and the immune system meet!
Mainly due to its amazing amino acid profile, one of the best foods for boosting the immune system is Bone Broth. In foods and our bodies, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. And, proteins play a crucial role in TONS of bodily functions and maintaining our health.
Two amino acids which jump off the page are Glutamine and Proline, both super-duper abundant in Bone Broth. Glutamine is considered the #1 amino acid when it comes to gut health as it helps repair the gut lining which, in turn, helps to protect and strengthen your immune system.
Proline, also found in collagen, can help strengthen the tissues that line the GI tract, which is beneficial for nutrient absorption and in preventing autoimmune responses.
You can easily make your own bone broth but you if home made isn't your thing, The Clean Living Company are by far your best option in town.
Garlic has been used for centuries as both a food ingredient and a medicine as it is associated with a wide range of health benefits, including enhanced immune function.
Garlic contains many compounds that boost the immune system including alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin (with a c), the main active ingredient in garlic.
Allicin contains sulfur, which gives garlic its distinctive smell and taste, however, allicin is unstable, so it quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds thought to give garlic its medicinal properties.
These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses, such as the viruses that cause the common cold or flu.
8. Coconut Oil
Obviously being keto nerds, we’re massive fans of coconut oil as it’s a source of high-quality fats. However, you may be surprised to learn that coconut oil is also an effective immune system booster.
Coconut Oil is jam-packed with lauric acid, which is a natural antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. It is known to reduce candida, fight bacteria, and create a hostile environment for viruses.
Coconut oil also boosts an already weakened immune system by improving white blood cell counts, which helps the body directly fight viruses.
9. MCT Oil
MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides. It’s man-made via a process called fractionation which involves extracting and isolating the MCTs from coconut or palm kernel oil.
MCT oils generally contain either 100% caprylic acid (C8), 100% capric acid (C10), or a combination of the two.
Unlike in Coconut Oil, Lauric acid (C12) is often missing or present in only small amounts so be careful of manufacturers who market MCT oils as "liquid coconut oil", which is misleading.
MCT oil contains fatty acids that have been shown to reduce the growth of yeast and bacteria. Overall, MCTs may have a variety of antimicrobial and antifungal effects which may have a positive impact on immune function.