March 17, 2020, Information
Prior to this COVID-19 outbreak, the majority of Australians wouldn’t have thought about strengthening their immune systems. If a positive can be taken from this situation it’s that more and more people are thinking about their health and fitness, and making the necessary changes. Ultimately, boosting your immunity is the key to providing true and longlasting protection against COVID-19 and every other strain of viral or bacterial infections. With a strong immune system you can safeguard yourself against attacks by most microorganisms and recover quicker if you do come down with an infection. Boosting your immune system has the added bonus of protecting you from longterm, chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, as well as increasing your resilience to stress and providing you with more energy and vitality.
When in doubt, start with the gut.
Research to date indicates that about 70-80 percent of the immune system is located within or around the digestive system. This statistic tells us a lot about where to begin to boost immunity. The stomach requires the correct pH (gastric acid) to digest food and denature pathogens. Stomach acids and enzymes provide immediate protection by breaking down the outer covering of viruses so they don’t make their way further into the system.
Next, the cells that line the intestines act as a barrier, protecting the body from absorbing harmful substances. The integrity of the intestinal tissue is crucially important, not only for minimising food allergies but also for stopping the absorption of infectious agents. Further down in the colon resides the microbiome – the internal colony of microbes that act as an army, keeping the bad bacteria in check and modulating the immune system in various ways. An imbalance of the microbiome can trigger inflammatory responses in the body causing digestive distress and longterm compromising of immune function.
Click here to learn more about how colon cleansing can correct your microbiome and keep you healthy.
Diet and nutrition
What you eat everyday is either feeding disease or fighting it. It really is that simple. The majority of your diet should be made up of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, some cooked and some raw. Moderate amounts of unheated oils, fats, nuts and seeds. Small amounts of animal products and grains. Sugar, wheat and dairy should be kept to a minimum as these foods create the most havoc with digestive function and absorption of nutrients. You may require a different balance of these food groups depending on your individual circumstances and preferences, however a plant based diet with plenty of phytonutrients is still the healthiest diet longterm.
A word about processed sugar: it’s poison to the immune system. High blood sugar results in lower activation of macrophages, the white blood cells that locate and engulf viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. This is why people with type 2 diabetes have compromised immune systems.
Even though food is your best medicine, I strongly believe in supplementing the diet with quality superfoods, herbs and whole food vitamins. Sometimes, if you are very depleted or sick you may require synthetic vitamins to bring the body back from severe deficiency into normal range. Here is a list of my top immune boosting supplements, which I take on a regular basis.
Infrared sauna – stimulating your natural immune response
The Greek physician Parmenides once said “Give me the power to create a fever, and I shall cure any disease”. This is the basis on which saunas work – heating the body to induce a fever-like state that kills pathogens, stimulates circulation, increases metabolism and boosts the immune system. Viruses and bacteria are very sensitive to heat which is why the body increases core temperature to produce a fever in response to an infection.
The heat from an infrared sauna penetrates deeply into the tissues of the body and raises core temperature. The immune system responds to this increase in temperature by mobilising the Th1 branch of the immune system, which fights viral and bacterial infections.
Infrared sauna for stress reduction
You’ve probably noticed that when you’re stressed you’re more susceptible to catching a cold or flu. Stress increases the level of cortisol in the body, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland during a ‘fight or flight’ response. This is ok and often necessary for short periods but too high for too long and this hormone can dampen immune function and prevent the body from fighting infections.
In 2015 a study in Finland found that regular infrared saunas combined with regular exercise significantly reduced cortisol levels. Regular sauna sessions encourage the body and mind to calm down and unwind. Infrared heat helps the parasympathetic nervous system to return to a composed state, allowing the muscles to relax and breathing to slow down.
Click here for more sauna info.
Stay calm. Here we still are in this crazy place, so uncertain of how we will get through and what’s to come. The thing is, panic has no benefit in this or any situation. Fear always looks outside itself for answers and it can make us feel helpless. Personally, I’m taking this time to reflect on the important things in life and deeply cleanse the body, mind and soul. All we can do right now is calm down, look inside, look after ourselves and keep living a beautiful life.