As the Coronavirus has now officially been labelled a global pandemic, we remain committed to the health and safety of our team here at Bright and to our community in London. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this outbreak. We are taking the advice from the World Health Organisation seriously, and remind our team and clients to self-isolate if they are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.
In a crisis such as this, it’s important to focus on staying healthy. The following tips will help you support your immune system — providing the nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants it needs to boost your health.*
Eat the rainbow to increase your nutrient intake and antioxidant status
Your immune system relies on vitamins and minerals to give it the energy and fighting power it needs to tackle foreign pathogens (aka bacteria and viruses). Fruits and vegetables are the most densely packed foods for getting your vitamins and minerals. To ensure you’re getting a good variety, aim to eat a rainbow of colours each day — green broccoli, red pepper, orange carrots, purple aubergine, blue blueberries, white cauliflower. Eating two different pieces of fruit and a minimum of five different vegetables a day will also increase your antioxidants status. Antioxidants are used to mop-up free radicals to protect the cells and tissues throughout our body — think anti-ageing.
Feed your gut’s good bugs with a daily dose of fibre
The bacteria in your gut has a big impact on your immune system, helping develop the cells that fight infection and regulate its actions. In fact, a number of ailments can be connected back to the gut. Your microbiome – the bugs that live in your intestines – need soluble fibre to grow and thrive, but the average intake in the UK is only 17g and the recommended daily amount is 30g minimum — think rolled porridge oats, beans, pulses, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
Fibre is also required for healthy bowel movement (yes, we’re talking #2) which is vital for clearing toxins that your body no longer wants or needs. A stagnant bowel increases the likelihood of toxins being reabsorbed into the body, which is something we all want to avoid.
Boost immune support with omega-3 fats
Omega 3 is often lacking in the average western diet but it’s essential to helping the immune system prevent and suppress viral infections – including Coronaviruses. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring (SMASH) are a great source of omega 3, and three portions a week will give you a good amount. Oily fish also contains vitamin D and zinc which helps the immune system function properly. Chia, flax and hemp oil are great vegetarian sources of omega 3 and mushrooms contain vitamin D, as well as beta-glucans, which support the immune system.
Season with herbs and spices for antiviral power
Have fun with flavours by adding herbs and spices to your meals for their antioxidants and anti-viral powers! Ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, and horseradish are all good options, as well as cinnamon, ginseng, cayenne pepper and peppermint, or dandelion, mistletoe, liquorice, oregano and basil.
Reduce your stress levels and strengthen your body
The body produces cortisol in a state of stress and although there are a lot of negative connotations around cortisol, it is a vital hormone for memory function, metabolism regulation and to activate our ‘fight and flight’ response in dangerous situations. However, long-term cortisol demand, due to continued stress, does have an inhibitory effect on your immune system, preventing pathogen fighting cells from doing their job. Try meditating, walking in nature or yoga to strengthen your ‘rest and digest’ response.
Intense exercise is also a stressor on the body and will impact your immune system in the short term while you recover. Consider taking it down a notch – daily movement is still beneficial though, so enjoy walking or cycling for a while instead.
Sleep more to improve your health
We all know sleep is important but the majority of us still put it low on the priority list and let other tasks eat into our dreaming hours. Aim for 8-10 hours every night to let your body repair itself and prepare for another day. The immune system needs those hours to release infection-fighting antibodies and cells while we sleep — these are reduced during periods of insufficient sleep. To improve sleep hygiene, try going to bed and waking up the same time each day — our bodies love routine! Also, be sure to turn off the laptops, mobiles, TV’s and bright lights at least one hour before bed. Instead, enjoy a good book, meditate or take a bath with Epsom salts to wind down and help your body relax and prepare for sleep.
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*People who are immunocompromised or elderly are at a higher risk. Following this advice does not guarantee reduced risk of infection or recovery aid from Covid-19.