Food for Thought & Immunity
We know that the recommended hygiene and physical distancing protocols gives us the best chances of slowing or preventing the spread of the new Coronavirus in the short-term; so do follow the evidence-based advice to wash for 20 seconds or more using soap and water, along with other preventative measures. While we take care of ourselves with this external level of safety, let’s explore a topic we have good control of to support our internal defense system during this pandemic – the food we put in to our bodies.
“All disease starts in the gut” said Hippocrates, the father or modern medicine, over 3,000 years ago. If we want to improve our health, we need to closely look at our gut health as many functional medical experts would agree today. Scientists now know that our gut is implicated in our immune health, mental health via neurotransmitters that regulate your mood and much more (learn more via this introductory article).
So what are some of the ways we can take control of our health via food?
Consume immune supporting foods
The strength of the immune system varies from person to person and its ability to fight off infection fluctuates depending on many factors on a day-to-day basis. To continually support the immune system, consider adding foods such as citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, garlic and cloves. Studies for instance show evidence that sulforaphane-containing cruciferous vegetables might protect us against asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other respiratory illnesses. Don’t have access to broccoli or cabbage? There are many affordable local leafy greens which are rich in minerals like selenium, and phytonutrients like beta-carotene, quercetin and lycopene – all fantastic for immune function.
If a persons immune system is already weak, it can also be helpful to supplement with key vitamins and minerals that may have become depleted. There is evidence pointing to the fact that various micro-nutrient deficiencies (such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, D and E) can alter the immune response. The most effective way to get vital nutrients are via natural foods and whole food supplements (not synthetic). Probiotic and prebiotic foods also help support the good bacteria that live in your gut which help to fight bad bacteria, fungi or viruses.
Reduce inflammatory foods
Processed foods, sugar, processed meats, certain vegetable oils, gluten, and alcohol tend to be inflammatory foods that tax the immune system. Removing these from our diet can help the body utilize its energy to improve immune function. Having limited access to such foods during the lock-down could be a blessing in disguise to anyone who was already considering cleaning up their diet! Toxins from cigarettes, pesticides, aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, air pollution, and food additives can cause stress on the system and need to be considered for long term health interventions. Detoxification protocols can reduce the toxic burden on our body. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.
Free podcast series:
Food Revolution Network is giving out a special 2 day all-access to their 2020 summit during this period! It’s a program we highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about food and it’s implications in long term health and prevention of disease. Listen to top experts around the world, and inspiring stories of amazing people overcoming chronic health conditions to become the best versions of themselves. Do share this treat with your friends and loved ones too.
When it comes to what we put in our mouth, our choices have a direct effect on the most powerful organ in our body: our brain. Stressful times may make some of us binge eat, crave sugary sweets or reach out to unhealthy fast foods. While this is a very common response, mindful eating patterns can be cultivated so that we can stop the vicious cycle of feeling bad and reaching out for unhealthy foods in the first place. So which foods make us feel depressed, anxious, or restless at night? Mia Nacamulli’s TED Ed video takes us into the brain to find out.
With all kinds of unhealthy foods around us, one might wonder if we really have freedom of choice when it comes to our cravings. Here’s a great talk from TED MED by sugar scientist and UCSF professor of health policy Laura Schmidt.
Food is also the most powerful drug – and is a simple way to bio-hack our health and restore balance in your body. In this MindValley talk from A-Fest Greece, Dr. Mark Hyman explains why we need to take a holistic approach to health.
More great YouTube videos are showcased on our channel.
Self-quarantining time could be a good opportunity to watch health related Netflix documentaries to inspire ourselves while at home.
Have a look at some of the free programs offered by Coursera, EdX and FutureLearn on the topic of nutrition. Here’s a good guide if you are serious about online learning.
Read our blog post titled “Boosting Your Immunity During an Outbreak” to learn about other aspects involved in improving immunity. You will also find more great nutrition related resources on our archive.
The truth is that there’s no short-cut to building immunity – it is complex, involves many factors and is a long term process although there is a lot we can do change our resilience to external and internal stressors on a day-to-day basis. It is true that most of us find it hard to think about incorporating healthy practices when we are in a state of anxiety. But that is precisely why this state of mind is also an fantastic opportunity to see and do things differently. We now have evidence that the most at-risk population from the novel Coronavirus are those with immunodeficiencies and chronic health conditions. We can start working on maintaining a healthy immune system as a long-term goal so that when pandemics strike again, we are as prepared as possible to withstand these external circumstances. And the decisions we take now individually will also help us collectively better handle such situations in times to come.
Living a healthy lifestyle is not necessarily about extending your lifespan, but about living a better quality life at every step. Let us strive to sustain these habits we learn long after the pandemic.
As always, feel free to contact Workout.lk via 077 733 7430 for free recommendations and advice for all your health, fitness or wellness goals – from diet plans, food and workout gear delivery, health consultations, corporate programs and much more. Make sure to follow our Facebook page or Instagram as we are organizing more upcoming online virtual webinars to keep you healthy, empowered and informed.