Independent health and fitness start-up Workout.lk hosted a webinar on 7 November to discuss natural ways to boost immunity in the times of a pandemic.
Workout.lk has been spearheading health advocacy events since 2018, looking to inspire active living and making it easy for consumers in Sri Lanka to lead healthy lives and ultimately reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases. They ensure to provide unbiased, credible, and ethical information to end users, actively discourage marketing and advertising that is unhealthy or detrimental to health, uplift industry standards, and become a catalyst for positive growth across the segment in the long run.
The webinar featured a live conversation with Institution of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Chairman Dr Tryol Ferdinands, who specialises in nutritive medicine (using food as medicine). The webinar was also to feature US-certified natural health professional Shanez Gunatilaka speaking on the importance of maintaining the biodiversity of the gut microbiome; unfortunately, Gunatilaka was unable to participate in the webinar at the last minute. The webinar was held in outreach partnership with Hatch, Wilder’s Organics, The Good PR, and Fox 91.4 FM.
Dr. Ferdinands spoke briefly on Covid-19, explaining how in many cases, it can elicit an overreaction of the immune system, especially in those with pre-existing conditions whose immune systems are already compromised. Dr. Ferdinands also noted that there was a correlation with higher death rates and other external factors like rates of pollution and populations. Dr. Ferdinands also noted that communities who have historically been deprived of access to good healthcare have had higher death rates.
Dr. Ferdinands spoke on boosting immunity through food and lifestyle, advocating what he called the ABCDZ of immunity as well as the four free medicines of nature.
Speaking on the ABCDZ of immunity, Dr. Ferdinands explained that this meant vitamins A, B, C, and D, and zinc, adding that these vitamins and minerals play an important role in regulating the body’s immune responses and reducing the risk of infection.
Dr. Ferdinands also stressed the importance of good nutrition, sharing that it is important to eat fresh (fresh fruit and vegetables with live plant cells), local (eating local food with local nutrients helps you thrive in your local environment), and seasonal (eating plants that thrive in a particular season helps you thrive in that particular season as well). Dr. Ferdinands added: “When your diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When your diet is right, medicine is of no need. Food goes well beyond nutrition. If you look at good health from a point of toxicity and depletion, certain food can block the enzymatic activity of viruses and stop its replication.”
Dr. Ferdinands also explained that medicinally, food works as “adaptogens”, and can reduce overreactions in the immune system or stimulate reaction where needed.
Dr. Ferdinands also noted that our traditional food culture has a lot we can learn from in terms of boosting our immunity through our diet. Our heavy use of ginger and garlic helps stop influenza A and reduces inflammation and helps fight viruses and parasites, along with other spices we frequently use like turmeric.
Dr. Ferdinands discourages alcohol consumption and eating added sugars because of their impact on the immune system, explaining that alcohol restricts and delays our bodies’ natural immune system responses, and that sucrose and added sugar effectively put our white blood cells, one of our bodies’ first lines of defence, into a coma.
The gut microbiome
Workout.lk Founder Teesha Wickramatunga spoke briefly on the gut microbiome in Shanez Gunatilaka’s absence, explaining that the gut microbiome, the collection of microorganisms in our gut, plays a very important role in controlling digestion and balancing the immune system and other aspects of health.
The biodiversity and harmony of the gut microbiome can have a great impact on immunity and general health. Changes in the balance of this diversity can result in weakened immunity, and metabolic endotoxemia (a “leaky” gut), where toxins migrate into the bloodstream. Wickramatunga recommended using pre-biotics and pro-biotics to stimulate and cultivate a healthy gut microbiome. Dr. Ferdinands recommended the traditional Sri Lankan dish of diya bath (overnight fermented rice) as an excellent probiotic, to strengthen the gut microbiome.
The four free medicines of nature
Dr. Ferdinands expanded on the four free medicines, listing sunlight, sleep, movement, and uninterrupted sleep as four valuable forms of medicine for keeping immunity and general health in balance.
Sunlight stimulates vitamin D production and calcium metabolism as well as regulating your internal clock, stimulating more quality sleep. Water and staying hydrated does wonders for the body.
Movement is an essential form of free medicine, with moderate, smart exercise balancing lymph circulation within the body and strengthening the immune system. Sleep was the last of the four free medicines Dr. Ferdinands spoke of, explaining that uninterrupted sleep of approximately seven hours allows the body to detox, regenerate, and self-repair as well as improves cognitive function and greatly reduces the risk of cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s as you age.
The panel urged caution and wisdom when moving forward in this troubling time and to pay careful attention to the things we do and the food we eat.