Balance, for a healthy immune system

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We are currently living through a time that is going to be the subject of our future generation’s history lessons.

Every time you turn on the news you’ll hear how important social distancing is and how crucial it is to sanitize your hands properly. Both are of vital importance but boosting your immune system is just as important! We need to have an immune system that is strong and ready to fight off any unknown viruses and infections.

How can we do this while we are at home? Luckily, the answer is pretty straight forward.

  1. Try your best to de-stress. When you are stressed, your immune system's ability to fight off viruses and infections is reduced, which will make you more susceptible to infections. So, use this time to meditate, focus on your breathing, and taking some time out if you start to feel anxious. Yoga, stretching, journaling and meditating are all simple and effective tools that we can use to help deal with stress, naturally. Apps, such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer are all readily available and are packed with meditations to help reduce stress and anxiety. Listening to calming music (Youtube have tons of stress relieving playlists) or spending some time outside (if you can) would also be a great idea. Taking at least 10 to 20 minutes out of your day to stroll around the garden, or to sit somewhere that makes you feel like you are in touch with nature (like on your balcony, perhaps) has been shown to significantly lower your stress hormones. Breathing in the fresh air and soaking up some sunshine (and vitamin D) will do you the world of good.
  1. Focus on your gut health. Good immunity, in fact, starts in your gut. Make sure that you eat a variety of high fiber foods, as many green leafy vegetables as possible, and foods that are high in probiotics. Bone broth would be an awesome addition to your diet as bone broth is known to help heal the gut. Bone broth is also very high in collagen, which is not only great for your hair, skin and nails but collagen will also heal the gut and reduce any signs of inflammation. You can buy bone broth at most stores (or online) or you can make your own. You can also purchase a collagen supplement from all health stores and most pharmacies (also available online). I start my day by adding a serving of collagen to my coffee and it is seriously delicious!

  1. Up your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is well known for its role in helping to support a healthy immune system. Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli are all naturally high in vitamin C and should become a part of your diet during this time. You can buy frozen fruits and make a delicious, vitamin-packed, smoothie or you can slice some lemon and add it, along with some honey, to some rooibos tea for a warm and comforting cuppa. Stir fry’s and quiches are also great ways to use up a lot of veggies and guarantee that your family meet their vitamin needs. If you have any fussy eaters in the house, perhaps hide some veggies in some healthy baking. We have been given the gift of time, so I suggest using some of that time to get creative in the kitchen. Baking is my favourite way to de-stress.

  1. Move your body for 30 minutes everyday. Exercising is an easy, yet powerful, way to boost your immune system. Through exercise your body's antibodies and white blood cells are forced to circulate faster than they normally would. They are, therefore, more able to detect and fight any viruses or bacteria. Exercise will also help to lower your stress hormones, which as I explained earlier, is very important during this time. Exercising at home does require some discipline but once you start, you won’t regret it. All you need is yourself, a mat or a towel and a killer playlist. You won’t believe how tough a bodyweight workout can be. You’ll find tons of workouts available online, on Youtube or through social media. A great place to start could be to set your timer to 2 minutes. In those 2 minutes see how many push-ups you can do. Record this in a book or on your phone. Reset the timer and see how many sit-ups you can do. Record the number. Reset the timer, and repeat counting how many squats you can do and how many star-jumps you can do. You can use these numbers as a bench-mark, seeing if you can increase this number every week. I have no doubt that you can!

Staying home and flattening the curve is what we can all do to help as a nation. The president acted quickly, and I have no doubt that the lockdown is working.

The best way to help your family, your loved ones, and of course yourself, is to focus on boosting your immune system and being as healthy as possible.

You’ve got this!

Credit: Jo Hill (Founder of Pullupsandpeanutbutter)

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For all official information and updates regarding COVID-19, visit the South African Department of Health’s website at www.SAcoronavirus.co.za