While we are spending a lot of time at home to stay safe, it is the perfect time to boost your immune system during Covid-19 isolation.
Take the opportunity to nourish and support ourselves and our families with nutritional food and immune boosting recipes.
Boost Your Immune System During Covid-19
There is plenty you can do to boost your immune system with simple and natural solutions you can practice at home.
Manage your stress levels
Many of us are feeling anxious and worried about Covid-19 and its effects. We’re exposed to a lot of media daily about the toll the virus is taking on our global community as well as our personal lives.
However, too much stress increases the hormone cortisol, which in turn acts to suppress the immune system. So reducing stress is an important step to keeping yourself healthy and well.
Consider limiting your exposure to social media and news media to lower your anxiety.
Daily mindfulness, yoga or medication are wonderful ways to reduce your stress levels and have a positive impact on your immune system.
Practising good hygiene habits
One of the best ways to prevent being infected is to practice good hygiene. This stops infection from being transmitted and spread to others as well.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or face, dispose of used tissues in a closed bin, and ensure you sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or a tissue (not your hands!)
Rest and sleep
A healthy immune function is very dependent on sleep. Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system and people who are stressed or worried are more likely to be sleep deprived.
Give your body a chance to gather strength and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. If you feel rundown or if you become unwell, rest is vitally important to allow your immune system the energy to fight off infection.
Eat warm, nourishing foods
We’re now heading into the colder months which is a perfect time to focus on eating warm and nourishing foods. A balanced diet rich in protein, good fats, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients can boost your immune system during Covid-19 times.
This is as simple as eating two serves of fruit, six to eight serves of vegetables daily and including a variety of whole grains, healthy fats and protein at each meal. Following these basic guidelines ensures you receive a range of essential vitamins and minerals to support your immune system
Homemade chicken and vegetable soup can help break down mucus that often comes with colds and flus. If you don’t have an appetite, the broth alone will provide minerals and vitamins to give you strength.
Eat your vitamins and minerals
Eat the rainbow to get all those fabulous, immune boosting phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beetroot are rich in beta-carotene which our bodies convert to vitamin A. We need vitamin A to keep the mucosal linings in our nose and lungs robust enough to defend against infection. Other foods to include are orange and red fruits such as oranges, mango, apricots and melon.
Zinc not only supports our immune system and exerts an antiviral action, it also helps maintain the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. Which means zinc may reduce airway inflammation, along with vitamin A.
We know vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. Keeping your levels primed is one of the most important measures you can take to boost your immune system during Covid-19. Vitamin D is essential for a healthy functioning immune system.
It’s believed that vitamin D helps stimulate the production of peptide – substances in the body that are able to fight off bacteria, fungi and viruses. We make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. But this time of year it might not be possible to get enough sun exposure.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs, butter and fatty fish but it is challenging to obtain recommended levels from food alone, so supplements are generally needed.
Move your body
To be immunologically fit, you need to be physically fit, so keep moving! Regular exercise is a great way to support the immune system, and this may be due to various different mechanisms.
As exercise can help support good circulation, this allows our immune cells to travel through the body more effectively. These immune cells seem to be stimulated by even mild exercise.
Another of the many happy side-effects of exercise is that it reduces stress, something that also keeps your immune system healthy and strong. Aim for a minimum of twenty minutes of exercise daily.
And exercising outdoors boosts the levels of good bacteria in your gut by up to 40%! Another excellent reason to get out into the fresh air and move around.
It’s easy to reach for the unhealthy snacks that make us feel good momentarily, but we need to focus on what is better for ourselves in the long-term, making choices to provide us with protection, strength and energy.
The food we eat influences our immune responses to infection. So focusing on our nutrition is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sugar, processed meat, vegetable oils, alcohol and white, refined carbohydrates tend to be inflammatory and can suppress the immune function.
Foods such as garlic, ginger, onion and chilli to help fight off illness, warm you up and reduce inflammation. So include plenty of these in your daily diet.
Remember fluids are very important to keep your immune system at its best. Water, bone broth or herbal teas are nourishing and help you to keep your fluid levels optimal.
A handy Ayurvedic tip from a special yogi friend of mine, Lisa Moor, and one that is practiced extensively in Japan called Ugai, is gargling. Gargling can assist keeping mucus membranes lubricated, or if you have a sore or dry throat.
Mix the following ingredients, then gargle the liquid for 30 seconds and spit out.
- 1/4 tsp of good salt
- 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
- Some warm water
Support your gut health
Up to 80% of our gut houses the cells that make up our immune system so it makes very good sense to support your gut health by boosting health bacteria.
- Include fermented foods in your diet
- Cut sugar
- Eat a variety of plant-based foods, aim for 40 different types weekly!
- Bone broth is rich in collagen and glutamine and naturally supports good gut health.
Clean your phone
If you are anything like me you will be touching you phone very regularly making it a bastion of germs and potentially the coronavirus.
So just as you would think of washing your hands regularly, you need to wipe down your phone with alcohol wipes.
Love Lindy xx
Chicken Broth from The Healthy Chef
- 1.2 kg organic or free range chicken carcass
- 6 litres filtered water
- ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced ginger
- 1 onion, cut in half and gently charred in a hot dry pan
- 300 g carrot
- 100 g celery
- 2 organic chicken breast fillets
- ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 600 g Savoy Cabbage, cut into 150 g wedges (see notes)
- handful spring onion, sliced
- handful coriander leaves to garnish
- Place chicken carcass into a stock pot with 6 litres of filtered water.
- Add sea salt, onion, carrot, ginger and celery.
- Simmer partially covered over a low heat for 5 hours, skimming the broth regularly to remove any surface fat and scum.
- Strain the stock through a fine muslin.
- Refrigerate overnight and remove all the excess fat that solidifies over the top.
- Heat the stock and add the Chicken breast.
- Gently poach the chicken for 12 minutes or until cooked through.
- Remove and slice thinly.
- Trim the Savoy cabbage then cut into 4 large wedges.
- Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock into a large pan and bring to the boil.
- Add the cabbage wedges and cover with a tight fitting lid.
- Cook for 5 minutes until tender but still crisp.
- Transfer cabbage into serving bowls and add the sliced chicken breast.
- Pour over the bone broth and garnish with spring onion and coriander.
NOTES AND INSPIRATION
Add a little extra freshly grated or finely sliced ginger to garnish.
I love serving it in large bowls as a main course meal and add seasonal vegetables of the moment. I’ve used delicious Savoy Cabbage for this recipe, but it goes delightfully well with other garden vegetables such as baby carrot, wilted cavolo nero, snow pea or zucchini noodles
Author: Lindy Cook, Naturopath at Nurtured Birth