Keep Calm & Healthy - Boost Immunity & Kill Germs
Life has turned itself inside out lately, and we've been told to isolate ourselves with the intention of wellness. It's challenging though. As masks and hand sanitizers fly off store shelves at Nascar speed, hand-washing has become the new mantra. And even the chillest Yogis and Yoginis, may be feeling vulnerable now.
As we try to avoid getting ill, boosting immunity sounds ideal; although, according to Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, bestselling author of "Crohn's and Colitis Fix" and “Digestive Reset,” when it comes to enhancing immune function, more isn't necessarily better. Why not? Well, it's possible that your immune response may already be overstimulated from underlying causes or various reasons. Dr. Lukyanovsky says, “I see some recommending this vitamin over the other, meanwhile we have absolutely no supporting data on what natural option works here as an antiviral for COVID-19 (meaning a product that kills the virus); we do know that supporting the immune system is theoretically a good idea.”
For ways to keep your immunity strong and steer clear of harmful germs read on...
The mind has a powerful influence on health. And yet it's challenging to stay cool, when facing the unknown. After all, bacteria, both bad & good, are literally everywhere. Even so, it’s crucial to steer your emotions away from fear, since the stress response lowers immunity, and dominos into an array of unhealthy side effects, including: inflammation, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and the list goes on... Whereas clear-headedness and calm, serve to nurture and heal. “Shallow breathing is common during stressful times. Make sure you breathe fully to alkaline the body and stay healthy,” says Dr. Lukyanovsky. So it's a good idea, to turn to mindfulness practices with deep calming yogic breaths, through the nose. In yoga, make sure to link the breath along with the asanas. And if you're inside for prolonged periods, chair yoga (video from Kassandra) helps center the body and unblock energy.
Supplements & Safety
When recommending supplements, Dr. Lukyanovsky proceeds with caution. The key is to make sure you don't overstimulate your system. “That’s why I would hold off recommending starting a new probiotic as immune system support to avoid the immune system reaction,” advises Dr. Lukyanovsky. So how can you safely strengthen immunity? “Generally, vitamin C, vitamin D and Zinc will work to modulate the immune system without overstimulating it,” says Dr. Lukyanovsky. Another impressive supplement Dr. Lukyanovsky mentions that has been included in multiple studies, and is responding positively to research, is Quercitin, an antiviral bioflavonoid (plant compound) that reduces inflammation, and has been shown to inhibit flu symptoms. If you'd like to get Quercetin in your diet instead, you'll find it in green and black tea, red wine, apples, broccoli, and many other plant based foods. Read this breakdown from Integrative Therapies, that lists the different amounts of Quercetin in many fruits and vegetables. It’s sometimes recommended to take bromelain with Quercetin to increase absorption, but Bromelain may cause bleeding so Dr. Lukyanovsky does not advise patients to take it. “Instead, I would recommend Quercetin with Nettles (great in this particular situation with an allergy component which is right about to hit),” says Dr. Lukyanovsky.
*Before taking natural supplements always research side effects, drug interactions, and check with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you.
Being inside for extended periods doesn't mean it's a good idea to stock up on unhealthy snacks. Stress eating isn't wise when you want to develop a healthy resilience. Stick to a modest amount of nuts, seeds and dry fruits. As for comfort foods, think lentil stews, chillies, and warming spiced soups with ginger and garlic. Dr. Lukyanovsky advises saying no to junk food because “It can only worsen the immune system. Eating garlic and lemons can only be good for your immune system, so load up on them.”
Integrate superfoods into your diet. “If you can get your hands on black or red currants, those are loaded with vitamin C, or at least grab some grapefruits,” says Dr. Lukyanovsky. Additionally, reach for darkly colored berries that are antioxidant rich, and the occasional bittersweet chocolate. While dark chocolate is healthy, it also contains large amounts of saturated fat, so limit your intake. And instead of packaged hot chocolate mixes, combine unsweetened raw cacao powder, stevia or honey, and milk of your choice, in a saucepan. And always keep your produce clean. Dr. Lukyanovsky says she has been cleaning her's for years with diluted vinegar.
Vinegar is touted for its cleansing and germ-fighting benefits. “Go with small amounts of good old apple cider vinegar before meals for best digestion,” and “Shiitake mushrooms are immune boosting,” advises Dr. Lukyanovsky. Introduce them slowly, “if you tolerate these foods regularly go ahead and enjoy. If you didn’t do well with those before, now would not be the time to start,” advises Dr. Lukyanovsky.
Clean hands, no problem. How hard can that be? Well, according to the BBC we're doing it wrong. In their instructional video, a woman shows her hands before washing, under UV light illuminating live germs. While washing, she explains the importance of lathering the backs of your hands and between your fingers. And to avoid recontaminating yourself, shut off the faucet with a tissue. After washing her hands, and drying them, the UV light shows no more visible bacteria on the woman's hands. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep your fingernails trim and make sure to clean underneath. Since Covid-19 is what’s known as an enveloped virus, meaning it has a protective coating, when you form suds on your hands, even with ordinary soap, this foaming action interacts with and destroys the protective coating of the virus.
In addition to washing your hands, be mindful to clean your phone at least once per day as well as any remote controls, computers, external mouse; whatever you perpetually handle throughout the day. If your phone is germy and you press it against your face to have a chat, or text without washing hands, then grab a protein bar, or sip of water and touch the spout of your bottle, you can inadvertently transfer germs.
Consider all family members when staying clean. That includes your pooch... After you walk your pup, clean his paws with a non toxic wash before entering the house.
When shopping, carry antibacterial wipes to clean baskets and handles; do your best to avoid placing produce on the conveyor belt for scanning. Instead, remove the label and hand it to the cashier.
The ancient Japanese custom of keeping shoes outside the home shows respect. It's also a wise practice to keep your house free of street germs. Infectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt, said in Huffington Post, that it’s possible for Covid-19 germs to stay on shoes for 5 days on synthetic materials, but would likely dissipate faster on natural materials. So if you’ve worn your shoes in areas where others also have been walking, such as a park or grocery store, you might be tracking their germs. Ways to stay safe include, wearing washable shoes. Spray shoes with a disinfectant and keep footwear in a confined area, either outside the house, or inside on a washable mat.
On the path to forming new healthful habits, remember, there is only so much you can do. Wellness is a way of life. Not a popup shop. And self-care is an essential part of that. Be sure to keep your body strong and harmonised. Get sufficient sleep. Do your best to reduce stress. Throughout the day, draw awareness to your breath. And when needed, practice deep slow, centering breaths. At the same time, remember we are all in this together. So it's time to turn the dial on compassion way up. If you are able to lend a hand to those in high risk categories such as the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, please do so. Get creative about ways to help. Make phone calls. Check on neighbors. Use social media to expand your reach and comfort those in need. And stay in the moment. Notice what is. Appreciate your gifts. Enjoy the beauty of life, and open your heart to others. The hope is, after this time passes... we will look back on these days as a time of growth, sharing, and wisdom.