Before you keep reading for my summary of how to reduce stress and boost your immunity in these uncertain and unprecedented times, let me explain what stress is.
Stress is a real or imagined threat to your body or ego. It creates a hormonal response that can cause weight gain and insulin resistance. Our adrenal hormonal, cortisol helps regulate the stress levels by speeding up the daily activities and providing quick energy to our blood stream. Sadly, this will slow our digestion, metabolism and reduce the strength of our immune system. This is not what we want when we’re at risk of picking up infectious diseases, viruses or bacteria.
Although we should already be implementing the following things in our daily life anyway, here are my top 7 tips to reduce stress and boost your immunity during COVID-19. It’s so important you start implementing the following if you’re not already doing so!
1. Reduce inflammation in the body:
Inflammation can be the immune system's response to toxic substances such as refined sugar, processed foods, gluten, alcohol and caffeine consumed in your diet. I’m not saying cut these out altogether but do your best to minimise them! Instead choose non-processed foods such fresh (where you can) fruit, veggies, meats, nuts, seeds, legumes, wholegrains, herbs and spices is anti-inflammatory in nature!
2. Get enough (good quality) sleep: Aim for at least 8 hours per night to help restore and heal the body. Keep in mind every 1 of sleep prior to 12pm equates to 2 hours after, so try getting into bed that little bit earlier. Ensure the room is dark and set at a cool temperature for quality rest.
3. Stay hydrated: Aim for 2 litres per day plus an additional 500ml per 1 hour of exercise. This can come in the form of chilled water, soda water and herbal teas. Remember adequate fluids support all your bodily functions! But caffeine is a diuretic and will have the opposite effect, resulting in dehydration!
4. Add immunity boosting foods to your diet:Adding a variety of foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics is the best way to achieve this.
My top 5 to include comprise of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, berries, kiwi fruit), dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, broccoli), bone broth, ginger and garlic. I will expand on these in a later post!
Try this yummy Beef Bone Broth powder by Nutra Organics, that you can add to your cooking or drink by the cup!
5. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day: Whether it’s walking with the dog, following a home weights/HIIT workout or practising a mat Pilates, choose something that will get your heart rate up to keep you cardiovascular health in check and pencil it into your diary to keep you accountable. The rise in body temperature during physical helps kill bacteria in the lungs and airways.
6. Maintain optimal Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D and the immune system have a very close relationship. Adequate Vitamin D levels are a driving factor when it comes to fighting off infections.You can achieve optimal Vitamin D levels through 10-15 minutes of sun exposure between 10am and 3pm each day. Try killing two birds one stone and get active outdoors!
7. Look after your mental health: Take a break from watching the overwhelming news headlines and focus on putting your energy into other things. Try activities such as meditating, yoga, reading a good book, cooking a new recipe, calling a friend, giving an adults colouring book a go! I’ve been doing the Keep It Cleaner meditation via their phone application the past week and love putting my energy into something new and relaxing!
If you want to know more about what you can be doing, take a listen to podcast episode 239 by ATP Science. These guys are hilarious but informative! Access it here: https://atpscience.com/podcasts/episode-239-covid-19-update/.
Is there anything else you are doing to stay on top of your stress levels and immune health right now? I’d be interested to know!