Not only is winter seemingly dragging on for a long time this year – as we write, we are watching the rain pouring down in London – but the recent outbreak of Covid-19 is also causing many people to worry about their immunity and hygiene practices.
Unfortunately, there is no scientifically proven way to totally prevent yourself from catching a virus if you have the misfortune to come into contact with one, but you can help to give your immune system the best fighting chance.
Luckily, we recently recruited a team of holistic wellbeing experts trained in nutrition and immunity here at Peach. Here are Raewyn’s five quick tips for your lifestyle to boost your immunity.
Avoid inflammatory foods that weaken the immune system or produce mucus: e.g. Alcohol, Dairy, Gluten and Sugar.
Stay well hydrated with water and other low sugar beverages like herbal tea and vegetable juices. Try to look for foods that are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Prebiotics and Probiotics, and Zinc. Brightly coloured berries, vegetables, eggs, unsweetened coconut milk yogurt and shellfish are good sources of these immune-boosting nutrients. When it comes to fruit and veg, try to get as wide a variety in as possible day to day. A varied diet full of fibre and nutrients is important for your gut health, and there’s an increasing body of evidence to show that gut health influences the immune system.
You can find out more about gut health in our trainer India’s blog from last year here.
Ensure you’re getting plenty of rest, and not pushing yourself too hard. If you’re not sure whether to skip out on sleep to fit a gym workout in in the morning, now is probably the time to allow yourself a lie in instead.
Try to pay attention to your sleep hygiene to make sure you are getting good quality deep sleep: avoiding alcohol, caffeine after midday and screens in the bedroom for example. There are plenty of studies showing that being well-rested really reduces your chances of catching a common cold virus.
While it’s important for us to move, we also want to be mindful of busy spaces and dirty surfaces so this may be a good time to avoid gyms and instead work out with your Peach trainer at home or in the park. However, make sure you are also scheduling “rest days” to make sure you don’t overtrain. As well as feeling tired and achey, one of the key symptoms of overtraining is reduced immunity. Also be mindful of the kind of exercise you are doing – explosive and exhausting training like HIIT stimulates the the sympathetic nervous system, which releases cortisol and adrenaline. This can lead to inflammation and a suppressed immune system if you are regularly overdoing it. Find out more in our trainer Fran’s blog, ‘Could Your Existing Workout Routine Be Causing You More Stress?’
Psychological Stress weakens the immune system and disrupts our bodies’ innate healing abilities so we become more susceptible to infection.
Try to find moments of calm throughout your day, so that you’re not expending a lot of physical and mental energy without periods of recovery. Now is a good time to be mindful about not taking on too much at work if you can avoid it.
Many people find that the slower paced, calming styles of yoga are beneficial for managing their stress. You can check out our new team of yoga teachers now at Peach here. Many of them also specialise in meditation and breathwork.
Again, sleeping and eating well also help with stress management.
If you are eating a good diet full of a large variety of fruits and vegetables, your vitamin levels should be sufficient for your average day to day life. However, in times like these it doesn’t hurt to supplement a little with vitamins known to have a positive effect on the immune system.
You can order anti-viral herbs like Biocidin and Oil of Oregano, supplements like NAC, Probiotics, Vitamin D, and Zinc online. Altrient UK’s Liposomal Vitamin C is also my favourite Vitamin C supplement. There is also some limited evidence of echinacea and black elderberry syrup for reducing the severity of the common cold if you are interested in exploring further natural options.
Some people swear by Vitamin Infusions. Dr Nathan can whip up a Myers Cocktail for you with some extra Vitamin C and NAC, which is a potent natural antioxidant and bronchodilator – that’s a fancy term for decongestant.