COVID-19 shelter in place. Wear a mask, social distancing, hand washing. We are being given the information of how to hide from this disease, I want to give information on how to fight.
I am not saying to throw all this very important information out the window by any stretch. Please follow these guidelines but realize we are only being given information how to hide, how to avoid, NOT how to fight.
At some point we will all be exposed to this virus, at that point how will you fight?
Our immune system is complex. First line of defense is protection, our outer layer; our skin and mucous membranes are the first to contact with any virus.
Masks, hand washing, and hand sanitizers all work to improve your avoidance of contact with the virus.
But what happens next? Your body must respond when the virus finds you.
Your body’s immune system is a crazy complex system that has incredible ways of finding viruses in your system; once it identifies the virus as “not you” it attacks and mounts a battle. You need your weapons to be ready.
Just like a war, you want to fight with the fastest response and the most effective weapons.
Are you providing your body with the best weapons possible?
The job of your immune system is to protect your body from these infections. The immune system protects you in three different ways:
It creates a barrier that prevents bacteria and viruses from entering your body.
If a bacteria or virus does get into the body, the immune system tries to detect and eliminate it before it can make itself at home and reproduce.
If the virus or bacteria is able to reproduce and start causing problems, your immune system is in charge of eliminating it.
For good Immune system function your body needs:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Effective detoxification systems
- Low levels of inflammation
- Low stress or stress management tools
- Movement preferably with joy
- Peace and calm
The villains our body is fighting:
Bacteria – We are exposed all the time in our environment. Symbiotic bacteria, friendly bacteria like lactobacillus in your fermented foods, and not so friendly bacteria like streptococcus giving you strep throat.
A virus is a broken protein. A virus needs a host cell to help it replicate. If it gets through your defenses, then it replicates and kills your cells to thrive.
Our bodies show symptoms of the fight by producing green gunk when you cough, or a runny nose. A sneeze is the body’s way to clean up the battlefield.
Fevers are present during the battle because the virus and bacteria will die faster at a higher body temperature.
When you feel fatigued this is the body’s way of forcing you to sleep so all your body’s efforts are concentrated on the fight.
What do we need to do to be ready for battle?
1. Most important to start with is SLEEP:
- Our body cleans and repairs during sleep.
- Metabolism is balanced during sleep.
- Melatonin is produced naturally and will increase the strength of our natural killer cells.
If the body does not get enough sleep our adrenal system will go into over-drive. Not to get too deep into the weeds, but without a good functioning adrenal system your immune system’s defenses are lowered. 7-9 hours is imperative to flush out the brain toxins and inflammation produced on a daily basis.
Tips for getting sleep now:
- Have a schedule as if you were going to get up and leave the house as before quarantine. (we can skip the 4:30am alarm for the gym.)
- Have a bed time and a wake time. I recommend getting to bed before 11pm and wake up before 9am.
- Get sun on your face before 11 am to regulate your circadian rhythm.
- Limit screen time. Make rules and stick to them, stop 2 hours before bed. Buy a pair of blue light blocker glasses use them after sundown if you absolutely must be on screens.
- Limit the caffeine from chocolate, coffee, sodas. Completely avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
- Limit alcohol intake especially before bed.
2. Nutrient intake:
It’s no shocker, sugar and processed foods will increase inflammation. When the body is busy fighting inflammation the troops are divided. Therefore, decreasing the immune system’s ability to mount a fight against foreign invaders. Right now, so many of us are turning to processed foods, and foods high in sugar, “comfort foods” that will increase oxidative stress in our body. We turn to wine or alcohol to “relax”. I am seeing so many people need to find a way to relax, an easy short-term fix is a glass of wine or two with some chocolate. Over time this will decrease your body’s ability to mount a good immune system response. Just like you get sluggish with a few drinks so will your immune system.
Your veggies and fruits of all colors will give your body the antioxidants it needs to decrease the oxidative stress in the system. Oxidative stress or free radicals are like college boys at a frat party. They are wild impulsive usually break things and make a mess. Anti-oxidants are like the good girls from the 1950’s that mellowed the boys out, making them slow down and responsible. We need more antioxidants than free radicals to keep the body from being a trashed inflamed frat house.
Tips for nutrition now:
- Now is the time to increase your vegetables, dark green leafy, onion, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts (yes, you can eat them with a clean sourced bacon of course). See recipe below.
- Focus on increasing low glycemic fruits, berries. Low to moderate amount of citrus but please eat the whole fruit juice, there is way too much sugar, even natural sugar is too high.
- You now are home to cook. Use the cooking tools you have… crockpots, Dutch oven, Instapot…you are home! Keep the stove and oven going all day like your grandma did. Have fun experimenting, try all sorts of new things.
- Don’t be afraid to fail, if it sucks then try again tomorrow.
Move throughout the day:
Movement is important in so many ways. Movement increases serotonin and dopamine for happy peaceful brain chemicals. Being calm will help you digest and absorb all the good nutrients you are eating. We need our lymphatic system to be working efficiently. One job of the lymph system is to drain and filter fluids all over the body to detect and remove the bacteria and viruses. Unlike our circulatory system, which is able to pump on its own, the lymphatic system needs you to get moving to move the toxins out of the system. This is what detoxification is about. This is a huge part of getting your toxic load down.
Tips to move now:
- If you can be outside, go outside…. Go, walk in nature, or walk with friends at safe social distance.
- There are so many exercises apps, videos, and trainers that are free to use! YouTube, Daily burn, Nike, and NOOM to name a few. You have no excuses; find something you like and do it!
- Schedule it out on your calendar, tell your kids and family members this is your time to work out. You need it, you deserve it, put up the boundaries and stick to it.
- Zoom workouts with friends can be motivating and keep you accountable.
- Set up a space for exercise, keep it set up so it’s easy do it when you have the time.
Stress is a huge factor in decreased immune system response. Chronic stress will wear on our bodies in so many ways lowering our resistance to disease and infections. When we are constantly spiking our stress hormone cortisol, we divert other hormones from fueling the immune function leading to increased colds and respiratory infections.
Tips to reduce stress:
- Do things that you love. Find joy make it a priority. The dishes can wait.
- Exercise, move with joy.
- Breathing: square breath
- Feel your feet on the ground, be present with what you are choosing to do right now. Avoid multi-tasking.
- Take time out for you, find a way to create space for you.
- Spend time (on zoom, or outside with social distancing) with the people who love you AND lift you up.
I do know our bodies were built to fight for survival. Right now, I am scared, we as a culture have lost touch with how to support the body to do its job. I believe, we need to focus ways to improve our health. These strategies are for the long-term lifestyle changes. Resist the cultural norm to give in to convenience. For long term changes we need to see the end goal vs the short-term satisfaction. Realize that you have control and power in this situation. You can stack the deck in your favor, you must believe the work is worth it. You must believe YOU are worth it.