That's it, we are going into another Lockdown.
I'm trying not to despair and remain positive, but whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
We can’t stop the virus. It's an invisible highly contagious virus.
Experts have said a vaccine when it will eventually be ready will not be effective enough to provide herd immunity.
We are being told 46,000 people in the UK have died from the virus and have had 1 million confirmed cases. Which is only .5% mortality rate
89% deaths over the age of 65, most over the age of 74 (Average age 82).
However, studies show that anywhere between 20-80% of cases are Asymptomatic. Meaning people won't know they have it, meaning they won’t be tested.
So what this means is actual case numbers are likely to be far greater therefore the severity and deadliness of this virus could well be exaggerated.
Unless they test every person in the UK how can they possibly know how many people have had it?
I'm not dispassionate but there are much more serious things out there killing us in far higher quantities yet we aren't all going mad over cancer are we? What about alzheimer's? Diabetes? CHD?
What's the end goal? Why are we being locked down as a nation? Surely just get those vulnerable people to shield and let the rest of us look after our Mental and Physical health and rebuild the economy.
What we know for sure is that it is a virus that we can't control. To fight a virus we need a good immune system. So surely we would do well to strengthen and support that?
Why has the government not given us any advice on taking care of our immune systems and looking after our health?
I am not saying that you ignore any of the advice given. I just believe that there are many questions not only unanswered but unasked! I don't believe the government are doing a very good job in our interests and I believe we all need to question everything and possibly at some point take a stand.
Why? Because if a vaccine won't give herd immunity, if the government won't seemingly accept any loss of life acceptable then is this really going to be our life from now on? Being locked down at will at any moment? Told that we are not allowed to see our loved ones?
Interesting times certainly ahead.
But what do I know? I’m not an “expert”. So why listen to me Eh!?
For a start my only interest is in you being happy and healthy. I am not gaining financially from this in any way. Can that be said for the government and the "experts"?
Anyway. Enough of that. On to a more positive note. We have the power!
This is where our Mindset comes in. We need to step up and take some responsibility, we hold the power. We hold the keys to support our immune systems and look after our health.
So here are the 5 main ways to ensure you give yourself a fighting chance at coping well with COVID when you get it. (I said when because we are all likely to get it at some stage so we may as well put in the work now).
1. Reduce Stress
Stress is one of the things we overlook but has a huge impact on our health and our immune system.
This is a huge problem especially as we are dealing with a global pandemic and an unsure future. The news and media all assisting us in feeling majorly stressed in this time where we need to be supporting our immune systems.
Infections such as Flu
Stress also harms your digestive system. When stressed digestion is impaired therefore eating while stressed is going to mean you may experience digestion related problems such as an upset gut, bloating and gas.
Chronic stress can also cause high blood pressure and increased blood cholesterol levels.
Dealing with stress, as we all have this year during Covid can also lead to unhealthy bad habits such as drinking too much, eating junk food, losing sleep and smoking (Guilty!).
Tips to reduce stress:
· Limit time watching the News
· Limit time on social Media
· Do not engage in discussions that are negative online
· Spend time out in nature
· Have downtime away from screens
· Prioritise Sleep
· Connect with friends and family
· Use a mindfulness App to meditate
· Spend some time deep breathing
· Yoga or stretching
· Read a book
This needs to be a priority at the moment and “Self-care” needs to be top of the list at the moment. Remember you can’t help others if you’re crumbling around the edges so make sure your oxygen mask is fitted first.
2. Good nutrition
There’s that saying “You are what you eat”. Well, this is true but for more reasons than you may know. Our gut contains microbes called the microbiota; there are at least as many microbe cells in our bodies as there are human cells. Their collective name is called the microbiome and contains at least 150 times more genes than the human genome.
Well that all sounds impressive but what does it mean?
The gut microbiota influences much of our physiology and our body has created a mutually beneficial relationship with these guests. This is called symbiosis, basically, our body works with the microbiota to protect us.
Get to the point Daniel. Ok!
Our gut contains 70-80% of our bodies immune cells! Microbes get their nutrients from what we eat and therefore our diet heavily impacts the microbiome and thus our immune system.
So what is good nutrition?
I don’t want to get into the politics of dieting protocols, so I’ll keep it very simple.
Whether or not you eat meat your diet should largely be plant-based whole grains and plenty of fruit and veg with an emphasis on fibre. The Microbiome wants and will thrive off of plant fibre. This will help the microbiota thrive and protect your immune system.
The key is to have a wide variety of plants in your diet such as mixing leafy greens, beans, legumes, grains, fruit, spices, seeds and nuts. We should be aiming to eat a variety of at least 30 of these per week. It may take some research but once you get used to cooking new recipes it is very simple.
So increase your intake of whole plant foods and this is going to help you boost your immune system.
Organic Food – If you can afford it, I would recommend eating organic wherever possible. There are great organic delivery companies as well as www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk where you can get all your grains, spices, nuts and dried fruit organic and delivered!
Pesticides and chemicals designed to kill bugs get sprayed on our food which we eat… They say it’s safe, but have you ever wondered why there are such high cancer rates nowadays? Why is there such an increase in chronic diseases? There must be a reason right? Maybe it’s just a coincidence! Personally, I would gladly give up a few pints a week to prioritise the quality of my food.
We need to priorities quality sleep. Research suggests if you do not get the recommended 7-9 hours per day you could be negatively affecting your immune system. When we sleep our body creates cytokines a form of protein that creates an immune response against inflammation and infection.
If you cannot achieve the 7-9 hours per night then see if you can fit In one or two 20-30 minute naps as these have been shown to help reduce stress and offset lack of sleep at night time.
Having said that if you are struggling with your sleep then you may want to try a bedtime routine also known as good sleep hygiene.
I would recommend;
· Switch off devices 60 minutes before the time you want to sleep.
· Charge your phone in another room not next to your bed.
· Keep lighting to a minimum as blue light and light from your bulbs may cause your body to feel like it still needs to be awake.
Try these in the 60 mins before bed;
· Reading before bed.
· Relaxing Yoga
· Breathwork or Meditation
· Writing in a journal.
Another thing to consider is to stick to a regular sleep schedule. This will train your body to fall to sleep better and this greatly improves your circadian rhythm which dictates a huge variety of functions within your body.
Exercise is pretty obvious...you’d think. We are designed to move. Sadly, our society is not created to encourage us to move because everything is built for convenience.
The result? We are prone to obesity and other ailments caused by sedentary lifestyles.
This means we have to consciously allocate time for exercise.
As a priority, I recommend focusing on increasing your daily step count by getting outside and walking more. Breathing in nature and different environments support our immune system by exposing us to different forms of microbes.
Moving among nature is both supportive of our mental health and our physical health. Luckily even with lockdown, we are allowed to get outside to exercise.
Second to increasing your steps adding in focused higher intensity training sessions several times a week to increase your strength and fitness would also make a good addition.
Most of the below ideas can be done at home with little equipment. The internet is full of great workouts, courses and exercise ideas are often given away for free. There’s nothing stopping you!
At home Hitt (Many online videos available)
At home Yoga (I Like Yoga with Adrian)
Hikes (Walking with increased elevation)
Wherever you are now, any step forward is going to be positive. Set yourself a goal, start small and move forwards, slowly in the right directions is progress.
5. Cut out the crap!
So this is probably the hardest ask and one I struggle with. To cut out the crap we know is bad for us and that impairs our immune system.
Top of that list is Alcohol, sorry guys. I don’t care what study you have found saying red wine is good for you and although a glass is probably not too bad, let’s face it most people don’t stop at one sensible sized glass.
Due to disrupting immune homeostasis, Alcohol has also been shown to increase susceptibility to pneumonia, acute respiratory stress syndromes and slower recovery from physical trauma and infections. All of which may impact how severe COVID is if you get it.
Another big way it can do this is by damaging the microbiome in your gut which as discussed is 70-80% of your immune system!
Smoking; I’m not getting into this one as it goes without saying, it’s bad for you especially during a pandemic with a virus that severely impacts your lung function.
Junk food. Highly processed, high sugar food is awful for you. Again it damages your Microbiome and impairs your immune function. It’s often both nutrient and fibre deficient and will lead to all sorts of gut problems knocking onto your immune system.
Junk food is the one I have been struggling with as it’s been what I turned to as “comfort” over the past year. Just be aware it impacts on your body and not just physically, it’s the unknown damage it is doing which is a big concern.
Just be aware that you have choices here that will impact your health. Don’t beat yourself up, just do your best to avoid these things as best you can.
Fun Bonus Way to Support Your Immune system
The benefits include reduced stress levels, increased alertness, weight loss, increased white blood cells leading to a better supported immune system and a more resilient Mindset.
The above may be fairly basic but these are the fundamentals of looking after your health especially through the current pandemic.
Sadly none of the above has been taught to us at school and not spoken about over the past year. Makes you wonder if the government cares about our health eh!?
See what positive steps you can begin to take towards a healthier lifestyle that supports your immune system. I truly believe that we cannot rely on the government to look after our health. It starts with us and the choices we make on a day to day basis.