Written by Teresa Isabel Dias
I’ve always believed, and experts agree, that a healthy lifestyle incorporating the four fundamentals for good health is also good to maintain a healthy immune system.
It is especially important during the COVID-19 Pandemic that we maintain a healthy immune system to reduce our chances of contracting the disease. There are many unsubstantiated claims flying around to get you to buy products that will protect you against the novel coronavirus; don’t fall for them! Instead practice the four fundamentals of good health to boost your immune system:
1. Healthy Diet
2. Physical Exercise
3. Proper Sleep
4. Being Aware of Your Thoughts
Let’s look in more detail at the four fundamentals of good health to boost your immune system:
There is little evidence to support the idea that supplements help to boost the immune system. Experts say that the best thing to do is to eat well, meaning lots of colourful vegetables and fruits which contain lots of vitamins and minerals, and drink lots of water.
Vitamin C boosts the immune system, but you should get it mainly from dietary sources, which means the food you eat, not from pills. Eat lots of food rich in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach.
There must be some synergy in all the components of an orange or red pepper, for example, that are better for us than laboratory-synthesized ascorbic acid sold as a Vitamin C supplement. The Mediterranean-style diet is rich in vegetables and fruits, good fats like olive oil, low in red meat and processed foods, and is a real immune system booster. This diet is also good for your brain as noted by Dr. Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist and a certified Integrative Nutritionist. Eating healthy foods will also help you to avoid weight gain as you stay at home, as per public health recommendations.
Exercise not only boosts your immune system but also improves your brain function and your emotional health. We are being told to stay home, but don’t hold on to that as an excuse to not move. There are many ways you can still move or exercise.
Walk around your home or backyard, dance, do jumping jacks with your kids, or go up and down stairs. Take advantage of the many free exercise and yoga classes available online. As it is still allowed, I’m still going outside to walk and ride my bicycle – and you should too. Fresh air and being in nature are also good for you.
It’s no surprise that all of today’s uncertainties — health, family, job, personal finances, a constant barrage of bad news from all around the globe, etc. — can disrupt your ability to sleep, but proper sleep is essential for good health and a strong immune system.
While you sleep your brain gets rid of toxins that you accumulated during your waking hours and it rejuvenates itself. Neurons (brain cells) grow and are repaired during sleep; that’s also when you create and organize memories. Sleep also helps with decision-making, hence the saying “Sleep on it”!
Many women in perimenopause and menopause report difficulty sleeping. But before you head for the medicine cabinet, ensure that you have good “sleep hygiene” which should include a variety of habits and practices that help in getting a good sleep. Learn more at the National Sleep Foundation.
BEING AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS
To calm yourself down, you must become aware of what’s going on in your mind, and you should recognize that catastrophizing is useless. Your thoughts are not reality; the more you think, the more you suffer.
As Eckart Tolle says, “You can stop your thoughts by recognizing the futility and distractive nature of that type of thinking, and begin to see that a lot of unhappiness is produced by the narratives of your mind.” Tolle recommends that you re-direct your attention away from your thoughts to the energy of your body and breath; that will calm the activity of your mind. Thus, take time during the day to stop and meditate, especially when you’re feeling stressed and anxious. Ignore your thoughts by concentrating on your breath, the here and now where you are safe.
Focus on what you can control and ignore what you can’t. Write a list of things you’re grateful for and when your mind wanders into negative thinking remember the things on your list.
Stay safe, stay healthy and remember – we are all in this together.
Teresa Isabel Dias is an Elite+ Mompreneur member in Toronto, Ontario, and is the founder of MenopausED. As a pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner, Teresa helps women 40+ navigate the menopause transition, induced menopause, and lifestyle changes to optimize healthy aging. She provides one-on-one consultations, in-person and online, workshops, discussion groups, and she helps organizations and businesses support female employees during the menopause transition with educational presentations in the workplace and education and training of managers and HR professionals—because besides affecting quality of life, menopause can also affect women’s work performance.