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Boosting your immune system during coronavirus

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Is there anything we can do to give our bodies the best chance of fighting back against Coronavirus?

Sadly, there is no evidence that anything will boost our immune system as such, but to function well, we do need to balance its needs. 

Balance comes in the form of more than just nutrition and supplements but in hygiene, hand washing, sensible lifestyle changes, regular exercise, getting adequate sleep and managing stress. By trying to do all of this, we stand the best chance of letting our immune system do what it does best — Fighting off the germs, bacteria and viruses like Covid-19.

While there is currently no cure or vaccination, we’ve put together some lifestyle measures that will give yourself the best chance of minimising the symptoms.

Please note; This is general advice, and there is no evidence available yet relating specifically to Covid -19.

Food

Eat lots of vegetables & salad – aim for half the plate at least twice a day, and eat the rainbow! As much colour and variety as possible. A handful of dark berries daily — most supermarkets do frozen wild bilberries which are packed with antioxidants. Try to get your vitamins and fibre from vegetables as fruit has a much higher sugar content.

Avoid too much sugar, as this can suppress the immune system and is highly inflammatory. Try and limit white and beige (carbs), aim for complex carbs only and watch your portions: 75g dry weight max (a sensible sized bowl or plate).

Sleep

Getting sufficient sleep each night is key to supporting the immune system. Put your phone on airplane mode 90 mins before bed, no backlit screens (tablets, laptops, computers) either. Keep your bedroom room cool and dark. We recommend that eight hours is optimal, which means being in bed for up to 9 to allow for dropping off.

Stress management

Stress takes a significant toll on the immune system. Lowering your stress and anxiety levels can have a huge benefit. Think yoga (youtube is great free resource), daily mindfulness/meditation using apps (Calm and Headspace are great and have free trials), guided journaling using things like Daily Greatness Journal or 6-Minute Diary can all help.

Exercise

Exercise needs to a part of your daily routine and can help improve your immune system. But be careful, too much endurance training may end up suppressing it.

We’ve been really impressed with the Joe Wicks live exercise lessons on Youtube in the last week. They’re fun, the kids can get involved and creates a good community spirit, and actually is the perfect level of exercise to keep your body fit and your mind sharp.

Supplements

There are so many supplements out there, so we have just picked a few which seem to be commonly used with colds and upper respiratory tract infections.

Please note that there is currently little evidence for a healthy person, without nutritional deficiencies, to take supplements as this will not improve their immune system from its baseline.

  1. Fish Oil – is a natural anti-inflammatory and good for general brain health.
  2. Vitamin D – vital to both defence and regulating our immune system. We should all be taking a supplement over the winter. Most of us are deficient in the UK, and there is plenty of evidence to support this.
  3. Vitamin C – plays a key role in our immune system. Evidence suggests taking Vitamin C at the onset of an infection can help. There is no need to continually supplement because we can get well over the recommended levels via our diet
  4. Lemon honey and ginger has been used for generations. There is no real evidence in speeding up recovery, but honey is a proven cough suppressant and found in the NICE guidance. Of course, it can soothe and hydrate but is not a miracle worker for infection!
  5. Probiotics – up to 90% of our immune system resides in our gut, so looking after it is paramount. There is emerging evidence that probiotics can be helpful, but we still don’t know which strains and what amounts. We can also help our gut bacteria by eating a varied diet in vegetables and legumes.

What else?

In the last few weeks cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been seen in an increasing number of countries across the world and we expect to continue to see more cases here in the UK over the coming days and weeks. Vala are here to support you during this crisis.

The UK has well-established plans to deal with outbreaks of infectious disease and everyone can play an important role in making these plans work, slowing down the spread of coronavirus by following the governments advice about social distance and isolation. You can also play your part by using online services like Vala to take some strain off the NHS and emergency services.

If you’re feeling very unwell or experiencing any symptoms of Coronavirus, visit the NHS 111 Website, do not visit your GP or A&E. If you have mild symptoms and would like to speak to a doctor, you can book a video consultation with one of our UK-based GPs in minutes with Vala Health. Find out more here: https://valahealth.com/

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