Our immune systems are remarkable defence mechanisms. It’s constantly scanning our bodies to protect it against foreign cells and disease pathogens. It never sleeps and helps us cope with pandemics like the current COVID-19.
“..our immune systems will need to adapt unaided to COVID-19” says the World Economic Forum.
But how does it actually work? Our bodies create proteins called antibodies that destroys any abnormal cells it finds. This constant battle depends on how healthy we are, on a physical and on a mental level. Things like stress, poor sleeping habits and a diet lacking in essential nutrients can cause our defence systems to fail when our bodies need them the most.
The question if we can ‘boost’ our immune systems to help fight off viruses and disease has so far proved to be an elusive concept.
Irish consultant dietitian and nutritionist, Paula Mee, says: ‘The immune system is always on, even when we are sleeping. It’s stopping pathogens from invading our bodies – this makes it impossible to measure. The cosmetics industry tends to talk about ‘boosting’ it but, as nutritionists, we think ‘sustaining’ or ‘supporting’ is a more accurate way of putting it.”
The key concept here is BALANCE. ‘You don’t need a strong immune system but a balanced one.” says Rafael Māñez, head of the intensive care unit at Bellvitge Hospital, Barcelona.
So, the important things to keep in mind is to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Enough quality sleep, exercise routine to stay healthy and a balanced diet are crucial during these times.
Foods to eat to support our immune systems
Brightly coloured fresh fruits and vegetables for Vitamins C, seafood for Zinc & omega 3 & 6 oils, Yoghurts to maintain your gut bacteria, Vitamin D found in cheese, egg yolks, soya products, some dairy and sunshine!
Fresh Ginger, Lemons, spices like Turmeric, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Cloves combined with Honey is a favourite for us – taken daily it will support your immune system.
The basic idea is to ensure balance.
During uncertain times it’s even more of a challenge to stay mentally healthy. Worries about the future and how we will cope can add to a sense of unease. We recommend you keep a ‘health’ routine. Starting your day with self care, doing things that is relaxing to you is important to stay balanced and happy. Pandemics don’t last forever and will bring about a shift in how we go about life. So take the time to evaluate and adjust.
Do what makes your body feel good, do things that will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Celebrate this with healthy food as part of a balanced diet. Take that daily nap if your body asks for it and find new ways of communicating with your family & friends.
The threat that is the Corona Virus will eventually pass too so it’s important to take care of ourselves, adhere to government & health regulations, stay in touch with our loved ones and take life one step at a time.