Building Immunity Naturally… post COVID
As we ease out of COVID restrictions and into the colder months let’s aim to find more balance, whilst nestling in. Surround yourself with the people you love, that lift you up and inspire you to be a better person, whilst choosing to do the activities that add more value to your life. Now more than ever is a time to reassess what brings you the greatest of joy, and let go of those things that are no longer of service to your higher self. It’s not being selfish, it’s simply a form of self care.
Most of the discussion and advice lately has been centred around hand sanitising, social distancing and wearing ‘Mortal Kombat’ face masks. These measures are purely a band aid approach to health and well being in this current situation. We need to realise that microbes, germs, bacteria, fungi, and viruses are ubiquitous to humans and the environment. This is life itself. Instead of becoming complete germaphobes, worrying about people getting too close to us, and living in a state of fear lets work with what we’ve got, as mother nature intended, by supporting our incredible and innate immune system, staying positive and finding the joy in life for what it is.
The following immune supporting pointers will greatly contribute to us entering the winter season with a strong foundation of inner health, mental and emotional wellbeing. Some are simple, others are traditional, but the common thread is that we all have the ability to access and apply them.
- Good gut health is fundamental to our wellbeing
- Eat seasonally
- Up the herbs & spices
- Increase hydration
- Get outdoors and soak up the Vitamin D or increase supplementation
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Reduce high refined carbohydrates
- Get into the kitchen
- Look after your Nervous System
- Consume the good oils
Further reading on these tips can be seen below.
If you would like additional information on these topics, please feel free to reach out so we can guide you to some excellent sources.
As always, a massive thanks for your support.
Stay healthy and safe.
The COVRD Team
#Keeping it real
Good gut health is fundamental to our wellbeing. The best thing we can do for a healthy gut is consuming a diet rich in plant diversity. The larger the array of plants that you eat, the greater the diversity of gut bacteria (this includes all sources of vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts & seeds). 70-80% of our immune cells lie in and around the gut lining so making sure you get plenty of fibre from all of the earthy sources in your digestive tract will feed the trillions upon trillions of beneficial gut flora which in turn will support your immune system.
Eat seasonally, source locally. Root vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, beetroot, carrots, turnips, parsnips and swede are genrally easy-to-digest, contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, are cleansing for the body, and nutrient dense. Some of these foods are sources of prebiotic fibre (meaning it goes through the small intestine undigested and becomes fermented by the time it reaches the large colon which is beneficial for the bacterial colonies including probiotic bacteria). This food source will keep you satiated for longer, are versatile in use, easily accessible, and economical. Other winter foods include radish, potatoes, spinach, peas, lettuce, leeks, kale, kohl rabi, celery, the brassica’s, and fruits such as limes, mandarins, nashi pears, paw paws, rhubarb, and honey dew melons. Farmers markets are the best place to source your fresh produce. Often you’re buying straight from the people who grew it and better still, it was probably only picked a day or two prior to selling. Perfect.
Up the herbs & spices. Garlic is a rich prebiotic food, high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, including vitamin C, helping to boost your immune system, whilst also improving the functioning of your nervous system and managing your cholesterol. Cooking garlic is great, but consuming raw is even better. Easy ways of getting more of it into your life include fermenting garlic in raw honey, and making a garlic paste. Add more turmeric to your curries, dahl, soups….it increases the level of immunity-boosting proteins in our bodies. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic (painkiller). Be liberal with ginger, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, cardamom, and your fresh herbs like rosemary, basil, coriander, thyme, oregano.
Increase hydration. Winter is typically drying given the humidity level drops, the air is cold and dry and the water in our skin evaporates faster. Our thirst for water decreases but our need for it increases. If lugging the water back just doesn’t float your boat like it would on a hot summers day then herbal teas, warm water, soups and broths are other beneficial ways to add extra fluid into your system. Just remember to balance the output and input!
Getting outdoors and soaking up the Vitamin D or increase supplementation. Did you know that our immune cells actually contain specific receptor sites on the cell membrane for Vitamin D attachment? When Vitamin D binds to these sites anti-microbrial properties (AMPs) are released and target viruses. Makes sense then that as the daylight and sunshine hours decrease come the colder months so too does our immunity, so consuming extra Vitamin D (in supplement form) can be a great addition to the winter regime.
Medicinal mushrooms. Chaga, Shiitake, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, and Cordyceps. Used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, these mushrooms pack a punch in modulating and supporting immunity with the additional benefit of containing a wide array of vitamins and minerals. You can get the individual mushrooms or mushroom blends as powders (some brands also do capsules) at good health food shops or online. Add them to your cooking, morning coffee/cacao, or as a supplement to your winter immune support.
Reduce high refined carbohydrates. These processed foods (white breads, baked goods, sugary drinks, sweetened cereals, deep fried food, processed meats etc) often contain high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, soy protein isolate, and aspartame. Once in the body they’re converted into glucose which adds to increased blood sugar (BS) levels. High BS levels create inflammation particularly in blood vessels, liver, and other organs and tissues. The higher the BS levels the slower the uptake of Vitamin C within the body. Immune system cells (particularly White Blood Cells) need 1000x the amount of Vitamin C than other cells to be functioning optimally.
Get into the kitchen. Brew up some hearty broths, experiment with different soups, pull out the slow cooker from the back of the cupboard, get fermenting with homemade yoghurts, kefir, sauerkraut, kim chi, and kombucha (fermented foods actually warm the body). It’s easy, wholesome, super beneficial for gut health, and the recipes are abundant.
Look after your Nervous System. This is often supremely understated when looking at our current state of health. Did you know that an imbalance within specific areas of our Nervous System (NS) can deplete immune functioning and cause inflammation throughout the body? Proven ways to combat this are getting good quality sleep, breathing exercises (Wim Hoff, The O2 Daily, any kind of deep conscious breathing), Yin, Slow Flow, or Restorative yoga, meditation, and extra supplementation of Magnesium (Citrate is a well absorbed and utilised form). Medicinal herbs such as Passion Flower, Hops, Lavender, Withania, Chamomile sooth and support the NS, as well as Essential oils like Lavender, Vetiver, Frankincense, Chamomile, Wild Orange, Lemon, Bergamot, and Neroli (make sure to use good quality brands). Less screen and electronic time before bed, whilst also being aware of how much ‘Blue Light’ you are exposed to on a day to day basis is equally important.
Consume the good oils. In the winter months our digestive ‘fire’ (metabolic capacity) tends to drop so by maintaining good oil levels means we stoke the internal fire whilst also giving ourselves the nutrients and insulation that our body needs for repair, rebuilding and rejuvenating moving from Winter into Spring. Good quality sources of organic butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil are a great way to maintain those oil levels.