If there’s one take away from the coronavirus pandemic it’s that boosting immune system health should be a top priority for everyone. Social distancing and protective gear may help prevent person – to – person spread, but we can’t live in a bubble forever.
Our immune system is vital to our survival. It protects us from viruses bacteria, parasites, and many other pathogens. It’s comprised of a vast network of cells and tissues that are constantly on the look out for intruders, which once spotted, formulates a complex attack.
As a general rule, our immune system builds strength over time. this is one of the reasons why children get sick more often than teens and adults. There are three types of immunity in humans: innate, adaptive and passive.
Innate immunity includes the external barriers of our body like skin and mucous membranes of the throat and gut. Adaptive (also known as acquired) immunity is the build up of various antibodies either through disease or vaccinations because our body amazingly remembers past invaders. Passive immunity is a temporary immunity that comes from another source – for example antibodies a mother passes to her child through breast milk.
Our immune system is miraculous. But being such a complicated and intricate system – a lot can go wrong, which is why it’s important to make sure that it’s in tip top shape so that it can do its job.
Clinique La Prairie, known for treating society’s elite with legendary medical and wellness programs, has been on the cutting edge of better-aging research and treatments for over 80 years. With a fleet of over 50 medical experts, guests that come to the clinic have every organ of their body closely examined to obtain an indepth look at their state of health.
With most people on lockdown and travel prohibited, two doctors from Clinique La Prairie’s Medical Center offered up some of their top tips for anyone looking to boost their immunity during this uncertain and stressful time.
Dr. Mounir Ziade is a certified specialist in rheumatology, physical medicine, and rehabilitation in addition to specializing in musculoskeletal medical ultrasound scanning and manual medicine.
‘It’s essential to keep your brain as healthy as possible’, he tells us of his philosophy on living a long and health life. ‘Start by doing everything you can to maintain your body, including challenging your mind, having positive relationship with family, friends, and other people in the community (while practicing social distancing), engage in physical exercise, and get adequate sleep. All these basic factors are essential to healthy development’.
Dr.Ziade is also a big believer in eating a heart – healthy diet. ‘It’s important, since your brain relies on a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered through the bloodstream’, he explains. With the pandemic Dr. Ziade also suggests the people search for greater meaning in life. ‘Be grateful for what you have and receive. Savor everyday pleasures. Be mindful and be compassionate with yourself and others’.
Dr.Ziade believes that engaging in exercise, focusing on overall wellbeing, and managing stress are the keys to getting through the unprecedented challenge caused by coronavirus. Below are a few of his specific suggestions:
‘Whatever your age, exercise is one of the best things can do to keep body and mind strong and improve your quality of life’, states Ziade. You can even benefit from everyday activities that aren’t exercise. ‘Everyday movement not only improves you quality of life, but also helps you to burn more calories. You can benefit from the energy you burn through ordinary activity that you don’t think of as an exercise, such as fidgeting, carrying the laundry upstairs, dancing around the house to your favorite tune, or even standing or walking while you talk on the phone’.
General Exercise Tips
- In order to keep our bodies healthy and functioning effectively, it’s important to match regular exercise with a well – balanced diet. While some people may have a bad diet and not put on weight, this is not a sign of good health. Fresh food high in nutrients will help our bodies to function effectively.
- While it all depends on your overall fitness goals, one 30-minute session of exercise three times a week is enough to keep you moderately fit.
- While many job types require people to be active and on their feet during the day, it is still recommended for those workers to do additional exercise on a regular basis. By modern standards, physical exertions at works and home are very much restricted. What’s more, even for those of us who are on our feet all day long, sport helps to balance posture and strengthen the least exercised muscles too.
- The more varied the fitness program you complete the more beneficial it will be. Even if people enjoy doing the same exercises all the time, it is more effective to mix things up on a regular bases so that you get a more comprehensive workload.
Since some people under stay-at-home orders may have chronic pain, I wanted to see if Dr. Ziade had any specific suggestions for them. ‘Although it might seem that exercising would aggravate aching joints, this is simply not the case. joints tend to be more painful when they are left idle’, Ziade tells me. ‘Optimal posture is mandatory for a good circulation, which reflects these energies’. For people who suffer from chronic pain and inflammation Dr. Ziade suggests yoga.
- There is a misconception that yoga should purely be practiced by those who are flexible. However it’s precisely when you feel rigid that you should practice it. You should take things gently and little by little until you improve your flexibility.
- For those who are concerned that they won’t find yoga enjoyable compared to more rigorous exercise, there is a variety of yoga types to choose from to suit each person’s ability and needs. For instance, if you are looking for something involving movement, you should not opt for meditational yoga and instead go for a more physical discipline such as Hatha yoga.
- Yoga is a fantastic stress – reliever, as learning to control our breathing helps to manage both our emotions and overall psyche. Yoga is also ideal for those who are either nervous or anxious, as the concentration it requires gives them a focus in order to become rebalanced.
- Although progressing in yoga takes time, 2 to 3 – 20 minute session per week is a perfect starting point and is something you can easily practice at home if you don’t have access to a studio.
On the subject of general wellbeing, Dr. Ziade says, ‘In order to protect yourself, it’s important to take care of your body and mind. Breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques are quick and simple ways to help prevent illness and boost longevity. Their essential function is to release tension and positively nourish the brain. The body will then be better able to defend itself and resist stress, as well as benefiting from immune system stimulation’.
Managing stress and anxiety can be a challenge in this uncertain time. symptoms can include tightness in the plexus, tension in the shoulders, contracted jaws and shortness of breath. Taking care of your mind and finding a healthy balance are essential in protecting yourself, boosting your energy levels and keeping you entire system running smoothly. Practicing yoga, comfort postures, breathing techniques, visualizations and meditation will help to soothe your head and allow your body to regain control. And mostly don’t worry – be happy.
Dr. Adrian Heini is a doctor of internal and preventive medicine with a specialization in Clinical Nutrition. When we ask Dr. Heini what his overall philosophy towards health is especially as we go through the pandemic he tells me, ‘One way is ‘mindfulness’, meaning that you may rediscover little basic things like wind, noise of leaves, water, singing birds, or the movement of clouds, because we have more time for it’.
‘A balance between mental and physical health is fundamental’, continues Heini’. Also, good to know in times of quarantine, is that low-intensity exercise is optimal for a good immune function since high-intensity exercise can be detrimental for the immune system’.
Dr. Heini believes that practicing mindfulness, making sure to eat a balanced diet, adding certain supplements into our daily lives, and getting restful sleep are the keys to living a healthy life in general as well as getting through this pandemic. Below you will find his specific suggestions:
Mindfulness And Looking Inward
‘We may reflect and think about what would create a better harmony in life’, says Dr. Heini. ‘The coronavirus may also provide us with some lessons: like the downside of globalization, traveling, and business – oriented behaviors instead of focusing on humanistic, cultural or environmental values. This may be a time of opportunity’.
Nutrition plays an important preventive role in maintaining health since what you eat affects your body resistance and the way you feel every day. By consuming a variety of food, you gain from thousands of phytochemicals acting together to help provide you protection against inflammation, oxidative stress, and low immune activity.
Let’s not forget the importance of proteins, adds Dr. Heini, which are necessary for a good function of the immune system. Obviously, the protein intake should be done with high quality and low-fat proteins like: eggs, lean dairy products, lean beef, fish, etc.
Drinks: It is good to cmbine fruit drinks and to drink green tea, containing specific anti-oxidants. Fruit drinks are best made out of seasonal (fresh) fruits, since they contain a maximum of vitamin C.
- Phytochemicals in cranberries are well known for their anti – oxidative and antimicrobial properties, increasing innate immunity and resistance to infection. Pronthocyanidins, a bioactive compound of cranberries, enhances immune response.
- Pomegranates are an incredible source of bioactive compounds, which boast a variety of beneficial health effects. They are rich in ellagic acid, ellagitannins, punicic acid, anthocyanidins, anthocyanins and flavones which have been found to have strong therapeutic effects, acting as an antioxidant, anti – inflammatoryand anti – tumoral.
- Green tea has been shown to increase lifespan and stress resistance, protecting against oxidative processes and tumor formation. Green tea contains a unique amino acid, I-theanine, reported to promote longevity through its antioxidant properties. The polyphenolic catechins of green tea have also been found to provide health benefits, including the prevention of neurodegenerative and heart diseases.
- Sweet potato, pumpkin, papaya and mango have high levels of beta-carotene, a fat-soluble compound, which gives each its orange-yellow color. Beta – carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, an important immunomodulator that enhances the body’s defense mechanism through stimulating the immune cells.
For emotional eaters, it is important to keep strict meal schedules. There is also more time for cognitive exercises (identifying cravings, compensatory mechanisms, etc.) Having large stocks of food at home obviously represents a certain danger for these individuals. It is important to have a balanced diet, without excess. Proteins need to be part of our diet, since white blood cells and enzymes, fighting against aggressive microbes, are made out of them.
While Dr. Heini is a ‘whole food diet’ person, he does not exclude the transitory use of vitamins. Vitamin C is important for strengthening the immune system. The antioxidant vitamins: beta-carotene and vitamin E are also important. often it is recommended to do supplementation cures with zinc. Let’s not forget vitamin D, not only known for the bone structure, but also for its immune-modulatory function. Last but not least, omega-3, from fish, canola, or grape seed oil since it plays an important anti – inflammatory role.
Deep, restorative sleep is the key to inner balance and good health, yet for many people it can seem like a luxury. Promoting deep and sufficient sleep will contribute to a good immune function (melatonin production and other factors).
The Five Commandments Of Deep And Healthy Sleep
- Cut all contact with screens two hours before going to sleep. The blue light emitted by computers, smartphones and tables penetrates the melanocytest, which act on melatonin and cause insomnia.
- Avoid stimulants after 4 p.m. As well as alcohol, which becomes a stimulant after four hours.
- Do not eat just before going to bed. Digestion is not conducive to falling asleep.
- Show the pace. Before going to bed, take a walk, listen to music or read a book.
- Avoid violent images or stories. The brain secretes hormones that are harmful to the process of falling asleep.