How to support our immune systems after the Covid-19 pandemic
One of the unexpected bonuses of lockdown has been we’ve seen far less of the common illnesses caused by everyday bugs. When we mix less these spread less, so as at last we can socialise again we’ll need to prepare. Our main defence against these annoying infections is our natural immune system. We are all gifted with a fabulous defence system but it needs looking after to keep it working well.
So it is timely to remind ourselves how to support our immune system, here are my top tips
1. Sleep well. Sleep is the recharge time for the immune system. It literally powers it up. There are no easy short cuts to good sleep, with no good long term medications. Sleep experts tell us it is all about routine and maintaining the best conditions for sleep – cool, dark and quiet. Wind down time away from stimulating work or screens is important. There are lots of great mindfulness apps to help with this process.
2. Regular activity. There is good evidence that regular activity keeps our immune system fit, and supports its actions with an anti-inflammatory effect. 30 mins/day in 10-30 min bursts of moderate exercise is the right ‘dose’. Think of the effort of moderate exercise as being such that you can talk, but not sing!
3. Stay Calm. The hormones our body produces when we are stressed out, hampers our immune system. I suspect many of you will recognise that you’ve developed a cold or sore throat at times when your body or mind has been stressed out. Exercise is a natural antidote to stress (two birds with one stone!), but also having a laugh or making time for the things you love doing.
4. Look after your friendly bacteria. This may seem a bit strange but recent research is revealing that the billions of bacteria we all have in our guts are essential for supporting our immune system and keeping us happy. You can look after them best by ‘feeding’ them fibre, and the more variety the better. So this means a range of different vegetable in your diet. Aim for 30 different types of vegetables over the week, with a range of colours… now there’s a challenge!
It doesn’t matter if you don’t do all of these all the time, but anything you can do helps. Getting those annoying minor illnesses can stop you in your tracks. So just at a time when so many of us want to enjoy getting out and having fun, keep a mind for how you can support the best asset your body has.