10 PRACTICAL TIPS
What I have learned through experience is that when living a healthy lifestyle, your immune systems is stronger—this can be from recovering more quickly from a cold to not catching the yearly flu.
Today I can see my clients getting healthier, happier, as well as stronger by applying the same methods I put together from my holistic health education and trainings.
As the world comes to grip with COVID-19 developments, there’s been a lot of helpful information about prevention through personal hygiene. Practical advice includes washing our hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, using hand sanitisers, and covering our mouth and nose with a tissue or a sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
To keep our immune system healthy, it’s been suggested that we eat well, exercise, get enough rest, and take supplements like Vitamin C.
As a Holistic Health Coach, I completely agree with these recommendations but also want you to consider keeping stress levels under control, connect with your community, family and friends, and engage in mindfulness. Research from the field of psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the effect of the mind on health and resistance to disease, suggests that our immune system weakens when we’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Strong immunity is like hiring and training a police force so that they are on standby for any attack. Take your time to build your immunity slowly and steadily, just like you would build your own police force.
Below, you will find an overview of my practical recommendations for building a stronger immune system. Don’t try doing these perfectly, rather implement things you can maintain on a regular basis so they become a habit.
The food we eat gives our bodies the information and materials they need to function properly. Thinking about food in this way gives us a view of nutrition that goes beyond calories and good versus bad foods.
Instead of viewing food as the enemy, we should look at it as a way to promote health and reduce the chance of disease by helping the body maintain function. Another important point is to remember quality over quantity—eat foods that are close to what nature provides (fresh fruit and vegetables versus boxed products with long ingredient lists and expiry dates).
Our vegetable intake is oftentimes not adequate and I recommend starting here by eating 5 servings of vegetables each day. One serving is the size of a small fist.
Ideas on how to achieve this:
- If you are far away from the 5 serving sizes today, simply try adding 1 more to what you are currently having.
- An easy way to remember eating more vegetables is to say to yourself, “Every time I fill my plate, I serve vegetables first”.
- Remind yourself, “Whenever I eat a snack, I will choose a serving of vegetables”.
- Drink vegetable juice every time you have access to it—it’s a quick way to add a lot of nutrients at once. When making your own juice, include vegetables of your choice and add some ginger to spice it up or green apple or some sweetness. Use only green apples because they contain low amounts of sugar but still bring a lot of sweetness. Other fruits should be eaten whole to benefits from its fibre content.
- Make vegetables soups—easy and very nourishing!
- Calculate by late afternoon how many servings of vegetables you had and think of ways to add more
2. KITCHEN REMEDIES FOR RESPIRATORY HEALTH
These three foods will help to ward off germs like viruses. I’ll bet you have them in your kitchen right now!
- Garlic is antimicrobial and antiviral.
- Oregano has powerful antiseptic and antibiotic properties.
- Thyme is an excellent remedy for respiratory infections and coughs. It helps cough out mucus and unsavoury invaders.
3. ESSENTIAL OILS
All essential oils have antiseptic properties to some degree and many are especially good at treating harmful bacteria, fungus, and viruses. Some essential oils can help to stimulate the immune system by increasing blood and lymph circulation and generally supporting the different body systems.
I am using essential oils on a regular basis to support my health. This is my immune supporting recommendation:
- On Guard (DoTerra immune supporting blend)
- Maleuluca (Tea tree oil)
For adults: put 10 drops of each in an empty 10ml roller bottle and top it off with fractionated coconut oil (or any carrier oil of your choice, for example avocado oil or almond oil works well too).
For kids: put 5 drops of each instead of 10.
To build immunity apply once or twice a day on bottoms of the feet and back of the neck.
At the first signs of sickness apply 4-6 times a day till you are feeling better.
If you are looking for immune health, choose these foods and/or supplements:
- Vitamin C
- Most powerful immune booster.
- Excellent sources: oranges, grapefruit, lemons, bell peppers, kiwi spinach, kale, broccoli.
- Vitamin B6
- Supports biochemical reaction in the immune system.
- Salmon, tuna
- Green vegetables
- Vitamin D
- AKA (also known as) sunlight!
- It’s recommended to take a supplement (preferably Vitamin D3, as it is better absorbed) especially during winter months.
- Might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression and anxiety.
- Vitamin B12:
- It’s essential to supplement this vitamin if you are vegetarian/vegan or eat very limited animal protein.
- It plays an essential role in the production of your red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper functioning of your nervous system.
Too little water can cause dehydration, headaches, and fatigue. Your body and your lymphatic system is comprised mostly of water. If you are dehydrated, you can suffer from compromised immunity.
If everything is normal and healthy, the colour of your urine should be a pale yellow to gold. Dark yellow, honey- or brown-coloured urine could be a sign that you’re dehydrated and need to drink more fluids right away. Be aware that some foods like red beets can colour your urine, which is not harmful.
Several studies have found that exercise not only helps heart health (improve circulation, raise oxygen levels), but also helps with stress, anxiety, and depression. Moving is also important for our lymphatic system as it helps clear debris from the lymph and helps the immune system to function well.
Several studies have found that exercise also helps with stress, anxiety, and depression. There are many views as to how exercise helps people:
- Exercise can block negative thoughts or distract you from daily worries.
- Exercising with others provides an opportunity for increased social contact.
- Increased fitness can lift your mood and improve sleep patterns.
- Exercise may also change brain chemical levels (serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones), and so boosts brain function.
Research indicates that we should aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day, regardless of age or fitness level (this includes everyone from mall-walkers to marathoners). It’s important to exercise daily so choose an activity you like and look forward doing.
Since gyms are currently not open for business in China, think about other ways to get your exercise in. These are some (mostly free) options:
- Take a brisk walk.
- Go for a jog.
- Meet a friend for a bike ride.
- Download an online yoga class (my favourite one lately is Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. VPN is needed in China but viewing the video is free).
- Follow the Spartan 30 days Burpees Challenge WeChat group and guess what…? You will be doing 30 burpees every day and check in with hundreds of others!
- NTC (Nike Training), download from the app store. You can indicate that you have no equipment, select the time and intensity level, and get started.
- Do some jump rope.
- Jump! Buy a small trampoline (Decathlon carries) and take a few jumps each time you pass the trampoline.
In person or online, involve your house mates, family members, and friends to motivate each other.
7. READING COVID-19 NEWS
Be mindful of how much news you’re consuming these days, whether it’s from social media or from “official sources”. Helpful questions to ask yourself:
- What is the minimum amount I need to consume to stay aware?
- What are the most reliable sources I should look to?
Meaningful relationships also play an important role in health, happiness, and longevity. “Good, close relationships appear to buffer us from the problems of getting old,” says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
In terms of findings, it hasn’t mattered much if the study came from privileged or humble beginnings, or if an individual experienced a lot of personal triumphs or travails; the end results have been consistent when it comes to what’s made them happy in their older years how happiness has affected their health. It boils down to several lessons about relationships:
- Social connections appear to be good for health.
- Loneliness appears to be toxic.
- Relationship quality matters.
- Good relationships appear to protect our brains.
Ways to stay connected with your community:
- Volunteer in WeChat groups by sharing your knowledge. Be compassionate, nurture, and care for each other.
- Use social media apps (Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat) to call your family and friends and do not only talk about your situation. Give equal talking time to your calling partner and ask questions and connect with them deeply.
- Take time to call or reach out to people you haven’t heard from in a while and ask how they are doing, just because you care.
- For internationals living in China: successful integration includes making friends with the local Chinese who cannot speak your language. Those awkward interactions are among the most beautiful of all.
Being part of a supportive community is important, weather this is online or in real life. It allows us to support one another, interact, and share experiences with our modern life struggles. Having this open bond with others is what builds valuable relationships and gives us a deeper sense of belonging. Communities are also rich in resources. Your strengths may be someone else’s weaknesses and vice versa.
Mindfulness is the process of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present moment without judgment.
The American Psychological Association advises that managing our stress effectively “may help people to fight germs”. Our immune system stands a better chance of resisting infection when we make a conscious effort to look after our physical and mental health.
Mindfulness strength is like physical strength; it is like the muscle of your arm. It grows only as it is nourished and exercised. By introducing mindfulness in your life, you will notice that your body is better equipped to deal with stress and anxiety.
Here are some ideas on how to start or build your mindfulness practise:
- Adult colouring books – Help reduce stress by engaging one’s mind in a relaxed way.
- Yoga – Increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centres the nervous system.
- Headspace – A free app and you can do the basics 10 days – highly recommended!
- Buddhify – free meditation app to do at any time of the day (when waiting in line, walking, felling stressed, when having difficult emotions, can’t sleep…)
- Louise Hay meditations (Search for “Louise Hay”, she has many free resources including audio books, online training, and more.)
- Box breathing:
- Also known as (four-) square breathing, is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths.
- It can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever.
Step 1 Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. In this step, count to four very slowly in your head.
Step 2 Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
Step 3 Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen.
Step 4 Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
REPEAT 3 more times (4 in total)
Researchers say adequate sleep helps T-cells in your body fight off infection. If you needed another reason to get a good sleep, this might be it because sleep has a tremendous positive effect on your immune response. Most adults need a minimum of seven hours sleep every night for improved health and well-being. Benefits of adequate sleep include improved mood, and ability to learn and retain information. Sleep can also affect our food intake during the day. After a bad or short night of sleep, you will crave more sweets, sugary, and processed food.
With the recent events, you might have had a harder time to falling asleep. These practical tips may help you:
- Create a sleep routine, going to bed around the same time each night.
- Do not read news (especially COVID-19 related) right before going to bed.
- Do not charge your digital devices next to your bed. If you leave your phone in your bedroom, switch it to airplane mode.
- Do not eat right before going to bed, especially heavy meals as this might cause digestive upset.
- Drink an herbal infusion as part of a relaxation routine in the evening.
- Sleep in a cool and dark room.
- Your daily exercise will help you feel physically tired at night.
- Your meditation routine will help you put your mind at ease. Additionally, you can listen to some guided meditations from Buddify or Headspace if you find it hard to fall asleep.
Building your immune system is not hard, but it requires continuous efforts. Even small changes add up, so start now and build along the way.
As a Holistic Health Coach, I can support you building a personal plan for you, contact me for a free discovery session: firstname.lastname@example.org