As COVID-19 continues to be a global issue, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and prioritise your diet and lifestyle to ensure your immune system is functioning at its best. In addition to practising good hygiene and social distancing, we can work on boosting our immunity through simple diet and lifestyle practices.
Here are 9 diet and lifestyle tips to help boost your immunity.
While the current social climate has many succumbing to panic buying, tossing copious amounts of pasta and flour (and potentially toilet roll) into your trolley isn’t the way to go. Packaged foods may provide sustenance, however, it’s best to focus on consuming more foods that nourish and support your immune system. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods which are also high in nutrients like vitamins A, C, and D, zinc, and essential fatty acids can do wonders for your immune system. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, berries, capsicums, broccoli, spinach, ginger, garlic, turmeric root, carrots, and sweet potatoes, as well as pantry staples like legumes, pepitas, sunflower seeds, almond butter, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
Swap black tea for green. Green tea is packed with free-radical fighting antioxidants that contribute to enhanced immune function over time, and may also aid your body in producing regulatory T-cells which play an essential role in immune function.
Get some sun
Vitamin D assists immune system dysfunction by reducing inflammation and increasing your levels of antimicrobial proteins which defend against pathogens and aid your immune system in fighting infections more effectively. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with immune system dysfunction; take a walk in the sun for 20-30 minutes to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D.
Certain herbs have antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects, aiding in boosting your immunity and aiding your immune system’s response to external pathogens. Elderberry, echinacea, andrographis, Asian ginseng, and astragalus are effective immune-boosting herbs and can help reduce the severity and duration of any potential illnesses. Medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake, reishi, cordyceps, maitake, and Turkey Tail can also benefit the immune system and boost your immunity.
Whilst a bath is often touted as the best way to soak up the benefits of essential oils, we don’t always have the time. Try this easy shower hack instead; sprinkle a few drops (three to four should suffice) onto your shower floor and take a hot shower, creating a DIY aromatherapy experience. Eucalyptus oil possesses antibacterial properties, so inhaling the shower steam opens up your nasal passages and relieves any congestion or stuffiness in your respiratory system.
Sounds odd, but hear us out. Tongue scraping has been performed for centuries as a traditional Ayurvedic practice. We brush our teeth twice a day, and the more conscientious oral hygienists among us may whip out the dental floss and mouthwash, but what about our tongues?
If you’ve ever noticed a thin film or coating on your tongue (it can range from clear to yellow, white, or even green), it may be indicative of a buildup of ‘ama’ or toxins in your body, which can negatively affect your immune and digestive systems. The buildup of this ama (toxin) weakens the immune system over time; the tongue is the body’s first line of defence, and simply removing ama from your tongue actually boosts your immune system and prevents these toxins from being reabsorbed into your body.
To tongue scrape, use a silver or copper tongue scraper. Stick your tongue out as far as you can, reach your tongue scraper to the back of your tongue, apply gentle pressure and scrape forward. Rinse your tongue scraper off after each scrape to avoid depositing the bacteria back onto your tongue.
Sip on lemon water
Lemons are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, which supports various cellular functions of the innate and adaptive immune system. Lemons also have antibacterial and antiviral properties, making warm lemon water the ideal drink of choice. Squeeze half a lemon into a large glass or mug of warm water and drink before breakfast and throughout the day.
Make sleep great again
You may already be sleeping more due to self-isolation, but if not, it’s essential to prioritise sleep for a healthy immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to increased cortisol production, which can suppress the immune system. Also, sleep is your body’s time to repair itself from the inside out through tissue growth and the release of hormones. For truly restorative sleep, turn your phone off 30 minutes to an hour before bed and opt to drink a cup of chamomile tea and enjoy a few pages of a good book instead.
Try not to stress
Keeping your stress levels low is essential to a healthy immune system. Stress causes your cortisol levels to rise, which can interfere with your white blood cells’ ability to reproduce and receive signals from your body. Cortisol contributes to reduced secretion of certain antibodies, which are your body’s first line of defence against pathogens. Take this time to practice deep breathing, yoga, and meditation (try using a guided meditation app if you find it difficult to focus alone).