We recently marked the one-year anniversary of the Pandemic, I believe the traditional one-year anniversary gift is paper, but according to the CDC in the US, multi-layer masks are where it’s at!! And whether you’re in an area which is experiencing a new wave of cases, or a place that is reaching high vaccination rates, taking care of yourself still matters, as we’re not out of the pandemic yet.
As a Nutritionist I am constantly asked for tips on how to stay healthy during these trying times, here are four of my best tips:
These tips all fall under the umbrella of supporting your immune system. Supporting your own natural immune system includes addressing healthy foods, exercise, reducing stress, and finding new ways to be social.
#1 – A balanced diet
Eat a balanced diet to support your immune system. Round One of lockdown was the banana bread phase, then many of us saw the weight gain, I think this round we are smarter. To keep a healthy weight and our immune system stronger, try adding more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to your diet. Variety is the key, inclusive of healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbohydrates such as grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.
Include a broad variety of the following in your diet.
Essential Fatty Acids: Chia, flax, hemp, salmon, eggs
Vitamin A-Rich Foods: Eggs, sweet potatoes, carrots, green leafy vegetables
Vitamin C–Rich Foods: Citrus fruits, carrots, kiwi, bell peppers
Vitamin E-Rich Foods: Olive oil, avocados, sunflower seeds, walnuts,
Vitamin D-Rich Foods: Cod liver oil, salmon, milk, or fortified milk substitutes
Zinc-Rich Foods: Meats, lentils, and legumes, vegetables, dark chocolate
#2 Manage stress
Open concept homes seemed like such a great idea until we all ended up under the same roof during lockdowns. We find ourselves unable to be alone or feeling isolated (depending on your situation) taking in negative information in abundance and generally feeling anxious. The pandemic has over-activated our stress system. Stress can wreak havoc on the immune system, and so it’s important to find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.
Some simple stress management techniques include: Yoga and / or meditation. Try online classes or Youtube (Yoga with Adrienne is a good one!). Get outside and walk! As long as you social distance, you can enjoy the crisp spring air while clearing your mind, you can also use this as an opportunity to social-distance visit a friend. Netflix and Chill, never underestimate the power of a good laugh, put on a comedy!
Connect on a video app with a friend. It is important to remain social, especially now.
Consider an adrenal supplement – there are many. Talk to a health professional for more advice.
Maintaining exercise during lockdown is important for both physical and mental well-being. It helps to increase serotonin, this helps your brain regulate mood, sleep, and appetite. Exercise improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better. Even if you don’t have gym equipment, bodyweight exercises are great. Consider an on-line coach or accountability buddy to keep it going.
#4 Maintain Sleep Hygiene
The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself. Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep. Try to create a proper sleep environment with a completely dark room and no sound distraction. It is also helpful to avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime. Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones, and even TV at least an hour before bedtime. Add blue-light glasses.
Read a book, take a warm bath or practice some deep breathing or relaxation exercise before bedtime to quiet the mind and prepare the body to fall asleep more easily.
Consider taking an herbal sleep formula or magnesium, if needed, to help you relax so that you can have a better sleep.
It’s definitely been a difficult year, this is a time that will forever change us, but one saying that has stood the test of time is: Health is Wealth.
About The Author:
Cathy Missios BA, RHN is a Holistic Nutritionist specializing in Weight Loss, Hormonal & Gut health. She teaches women to live with vitality and hit their weight loss goals, whatever their age. @pinkavocadonutrition