In the words of Bob Marley in his song “Three Little Birds”:
“Rise up this mornin' Smiled with the risin' sun Three little birds Pitch by my doorstep Singin' sweet songs Of melodies pure and true Saying', (this is my message to you)
Singing' don't worry 'bout a thing 'Cause every little thing gonna be alright Singing' don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing 'Cause every little thing gonna be alright”
This is a song that I have been enjoying at the moment. It brings a beautiful simplicity and sweetness to create calmness in the present moment.
We can also create an internal calmness and a non-worrying state within our body by implementing self-care. During times of adversity, such as now as we are experiencing the COVID19 pandemic, selfcare is critical.
Some things are out of our control, however, some things are still within our control. Let's bring some focus back to the basic and ever so important things: Breathing, moving our body, eating nourishing foods, giving and receiving kindness; and, connecting with people, the best way we can with the imposed distancing restrictions.
Our immune system functions best when our mental health is supported well. And our mental health is always an area that is ever so important to nourish.
Now is a time for self-care. Below are some tips on how we can help to enhance our immune function and support our mental health during this time.
Our immune system functions best when we have quality sleep. This is one of the most key areas of health that is important for immune function. Adults should aim for 8 to 9 hours per night. Here are some tips for supporting sleep:
Implement a regular sleep routine & go to bed at the same time each night
Have a warm (avoid too hot) magnesium / Epsom salt bath before bed
30-60 minutes before bed have a small cup of chamomile tea
Place a dim-lit salt lamp in your bedroom, read before bed (if this doesn’t stimulate you)
Add lavender oil to a diffuser in your bedroom or add a couple of drops to your pillow case
Avoid using all electronic devices at least 2 to 3 hours before bed
Meditate before sleep and when you wake up in the morning
A magnesium supplement before bed can help if you have difficulty falling asleep
The functioning of our immune system is disrupted when we consume sugar. Aim to:
Reduce consumption of processed foods and include a wide variety of wholefoods to support gut flora and reduce inflammation
Include plenty of vegetables and fruits, including green leafy vegetables
Include plenty of water to hydrate your body and brain
Trend towards a savory palate by introducing broths, soups, casseroles and warm drinks
Keeping stress low helps to increase immune function. A reminder to:
Breath well, avoid hyperventilation (to reduce risk of panic attacks)
Use mindfulness techniques and meditation, use apps as a guide ie. Smiling Mind, Headspace, 1GiantMind or Calm
Do something that makes you laugh or smile (or makes someone else laugh or smile)
Give and receive kindness
Increase magnesium / Have an Epsom salt bath
Swap from coffee to green tea (green tea contains l-theanine which has anti-anxiety properties) or to naturally caffeine-free herbal tea (chamomile, lavender). Avoiding excess caffeine will help to keep cortisol lowered and keep our immune capacity a priority for the body instead of switching to fight or flight response
Key nutrients from food or supplements : Magnesium (magnesium citrate or magnesium bisglycinate / diglycinate if in supplement form), L-theanine, vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins
Cacao contains theobromine which supports dopamine pathways, this can help elevate mood. Mix with warm nut milk and cinnamon and have as a drink
KEY NUTRIENTS FOR IMMUNE SUPPORT
Include many foods high in vitamin C including broccoli, parsley, strawberries, rock melon, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, kiwi, citrus (orange, lemon, lime), papaya, capsicum, sweet potato, potato, tomato, pumpkin, blackcurrant, berries and sprouts.
Spend some time in the sun and consume vitamin D rich foods or take a vitamin D supplement to access the antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D. Vitamin D also helps to ward off upper respiratory tract infections. Lichen based vitamin D supplements are suitable for vegans (these are algae based).
Here is an interesting fact about mushrooms, place them in the sun half an hour before you consume them. The mushrooms will create vitamin D with this small exposure.
Zinc helps with the proper functioning of our innate and adaptive immunity. Our body does not store zinc so including zinc rich foods in our diet will help support our immune cells to function well. Zinc rich foods include: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, capsicum, ginger, wholegrains, buckwheat, quinoa, legumes, tofu and nuts.
Having optimal gut health will also increase the absorption of zinc from these foods.
It is thought that quercetin helps to slow down protease activity of COVID19, which slows down viral replication. High quercetin foods include: red onion, capsicum, grapes, tea, green tea, apple, broccoli, green leafy vegetables.
Homemade cough syrup recipe: Make a cough syrup from adding a diced onion and honey or agave to a jar, mix well and leave on the bench for a few hours. Use the liquid as the cough syrup.
Many immune boosting properties are offered from mushrooms. Consume plenty in the diet, you can also add mushroom powders, such as reishi, to warm drinks, broths, risottos and soups.
Vitamin A / Betacarotene
Support your mucosal immune function and clear excess mucous by increasing your diet with vitamin A and betacarotene rich foods such as sweet potato, apricot, green leafy vegetables, carrot, papaya, red capsicum, tomato and mint. Also, avoiding dairy can help to clear excess mucous which reduces risk of infection.
It is thought that COVID19 attacks the naso-pharangeal mucosa first and lives in the nose and throat initially for hours or days before spreading further down the respiratory system. Avoid touching the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Saltwater gargles and herbal throat sprays can help to keep the mucosa in a healthy state ready to ward off pathogens if experiencing mild symptoms.
Reducing irritating foods and increasing probiotic and prebiotic foods can help to improve gut health and immune health, and also help to increase the absorption of the immune supporting nutrients consumed in our diet.
Probiotic foods include: sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, other fermented foods such as cassava, kvass and fermented vegetables, etc.
Prebiotic foods and other microbiome enhancing foods include: polyphenols (blueberries, cacao, strawberries), slippery elm, fennel, FOS and inulin (garlic, leek, onion, asparagus, banana) and fibre (flaxseed, avocado, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, psyllium husk).
Use the above suggestions the best you can, to help maintain a nourishing diet and to incorporate regular self-care into your day through these challenging times.
Keep watching for recipes and further tips in our next blog.
For individual guidance for your nutritional needs or for more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 458 706 705.
Further tips and information can be found at www.amylloydnutrition.com.au and @amylloydnutrition.