How to Maximise Your Immunity & Avoid Piling on the Pounds During Coronavirus Quarantine
It’s a truly scary and stressful time for all of us right now, with the Coronavirus pandemic spreading like wildfire, and hearing the number of cases increasing every day – we’re all dealing with fear of the unknown in our own way.
But while we can’t control this awful situation, we CAN control what we put into our mouths. And just like hand-washing, there are steps you can take to ensure your immune system is in the best shape possible should Covid-19 strike, as well as to stay slim and looking and feeling your best, whilst being stuck at home.
Stress (and boredom!) at “best” of times, can cause us to overindulge on carbs and comfort foods, and as a result, pile on the pounds. And now with the heightened anxiety this situation brings combined with being stuck indoors, comfort eating is even more luring! But being in isolation is no reason to pile on the pounds.
So here are a few tips to help boost your immunity and keep your weight and health on track, through Coronavirus season, and hopefully beyond!
1) Drink, drink drink
And by this I mean water! Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as well as 1-2 glasses BEFORE every meal or snack you have.
Water helps your kidneys flush out excess toxins and chemicals, which may be slowing down your metabolism, and better kidney function also means you’re better equipped to help clear a virus from your system sooner.
If you have difficulty drinking enough plain water – around 2 litres a day – herbal teas, green tea and lemon in hot water are all just as good! Lemons are also a great source of immunity boosting Vitamin C, so doing this is a real win-win.
2) Start your day with a mug of warm water and apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another natural remedy that I always promote to my clients, and in both my books. My advice is to start your morning with a mug of warm water and apple cider vinegar. Put a tablespoon of it into a mug of warm water; drinking this will hydrate you and cleanse your digestive system. Even though it’s a vinegar it actually neutralises acid, and puts your body in a good pH balance so that your internal systems work well. It can also kill bad bacteria in the stomach and intestine, and promotes good gut bacteria. I must admit that I personally struggle with the taste ‘straight up’ so I add a teaspoon or two of stevia or agave syrup to make it more palatable. There’s absolutely no health downside to doing this, so do give it a try.
3) Eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables
Prevention is always better than cure (especially as there is no Covid-19 cure), so it’s important to make sure your immune system is working at full capacity should the virus strike. Packing your diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients to stimulate optimum immune function.
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale; berries; nuts and seeds, eggs, and whole-grains, all contain valuable antioxidants and nutrients, such as Vitamins C, E and A, folate, iron and zinc, that help to greatly enhance immune function.
4) Consume plenty of natural Vitamin A
While we all know about Vitamin C for immunity, Vitamin A is also one of the key vitamins to keep topped up on. It’s known to keep mucus membranes inside your nose, mouth and throat healthy, which helps stop viruses entering the body in the first place. Good sources of vitamin A include spinach, sweet potatoes, butternut, mango, eggs, and dried apricots.
5) Eat natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral foods
This includes garlic, Manuka honey, coconut oil, ginger and turmeric. All help ward off bacterial and viral infections, and are natural illness-fighting foods.
Garlic’s antiviral component, allicin, actually becomes active when chopped, so it’s great to use in cooking – as is coconut oil, which also has antiviral properties.
6) Stock up on vitamins
Whilst diet should always come first, savvy supplementation can help prepare your body to fight off any infections. It’s worth taking a good multivitamin providing around 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of as many vitamins and minerals as possible. There are also a few key vitamins you can take individually: zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin C, all of which have been found to play a significant role in immunity and disease prevention.
A good probiotic is also worthwhile, as 70% of our immune system is located in out gut.
This is one I HIGHLY recommend (and personally take myself), as it supports optimal digestive health and contains a medically significant dose of turmeric and ginger, proven to boost immunity. (You can use the code: FOODEFFECT15 at checkout to get 15% off all orders).
7) Dodge the comfort food trap
With all the understandable stress right now, it’s tempting to curl up on the sofa and binge on stodgy carbs and sweet treats. But far from making you feel good, typical so called “comfort food” can leave you feeling tired, lethargic and moody. It will also do NOTHING to help you fight this nasty illness! Instead, get your sweet fix from fresh (or even dried) fruit and healthy blended smoothies, which raise your serotonin levels naturally.
8) Choose the right carbs
Avoid refined “fast-release” carbs such as white bread and sugary cereals, because these cause a spike, then a sharp fall in blood glucose levels, creating cravings for more sugary foods that make it even more difficult to choose healthy options.
Instead go for slow-release carbs with a low glycaemic-index, such as whole-grains, sweet potatoes, beans, pulses and brown rice. These are packed with fibre and essential B-vitamins, which help keep you full, and lower stress hormones.
Whole-grain rolled oats are also a great choice. A hearty bowl of porridge, topped with some fresh berries for your dose of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, is the perfect healthy, yet comforting start to the day while you’re stuck at home (no more excuses for “no time in the morning”).
9) Don’t count calories, count nutrients
Rather than counting calories and feeling restricted while you’re stuck at home (it will do nothing to help your mood!), aim to fill up on nutritious yet satisfying meals to stop you reaching for the junk food. Try things like chunky homemade vegetable soups and stews made with beans and lentils, or a baked sweet potato with a delicious healthy filling. I have lots of easy delicious recipes like these, made with store-cupboard staples in both my books. Beans and lentils are packed full of B-vitamins, iron and magnesium – all great for energy and immunity, and a healthy filling soup makes a great nourishing and comforting meal, paired with some wholemeal bread and side salad.
10) Don’t be D-ficient
Low levels of the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D have been associated with increased fat storage, amongst many other health problems (including poor immunity!) – and the sad reality for us, living in England, is that we are all definitely lacking in some good old sunshine! And now sadly this applies worldwide, as we are all stuck indoors.
Vitamin D deficiency also causes the brain to issue hunger-signalling hormones, tempting you to reach for the Chocolate Digestives and Dairy Milk. And who ever feels good immediately after indulging in that? Secondly, calcium-rich diets have been found to aid weight loss, but Vitamin D is required to regulate calcium absorption. So I recommend that everyone should take a Vitamin D supplement (or a multivitamin containing Vitamin D) all year round.
11) Get hot to cure colds
Spicing up your meals can help fight illnesses (such as cold and flu), according to research at the University of Cardiff. The spices in a curry could have an antiviral effect, as well as easing symptoms of a common cold such as sore throats and coughing. So hopefully, this could prove true to Covid-19 symptoms.
If you are getting takeaways, try stick to healthy options, or make your own homemade dishes, adding lashings of turmeric, black pepper, cumin, chilli and ginger to help you stay sniffle-free. Healthy and delicious – what more could you want?
The coronavirus is here, and sadly there is no cure (yet!) so you may as well make sure you’re armed and ready with the best nutrition you can give your body! And hopefully we can all come out of isolation healthy and well, looking and feeling our best! xx Michelle
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