How to boost your immunity and protect yourself from covid-19?

While millions of people have been self-isolating in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the curve has flattened in many countries, it is still very important that we aim for optimal health in order to protect ourselves against the coronavirus disease.

Am I at risk?

Scientific data confirms that both pre-existing health conditions and age are independently associated with COVID-19 severity. Data suggests that people under 65 with a pre-existing condition have about the same risk of being hospitalized as people over 65 without a pre-existing condition. Having a pre-existing condition at any age doubles or triples your risk of being hospitalized.
What qualifies as a pre-existing condition or risk factor?
• chronic lung disease
• diabetes, Pre-diabetes and Insulin Resistance
• cardiovascular Disease
• metabolic Syndrome
• obesity
• chronic liver disease
• chronic renal disease
• being immunocompromised
• neurological disorder
• neurodevelopmental or intellectual disability
• smoking
• pregnancy

What does an immune-boosting diet look like?

1. Aim for wholefoods, and avoid anything processed, packaged, ready-made. Avoid sugar and white flour - I can’t emphasize this enough.

2. Tons of veggies. You should aim for 7-9 portions of fruit and vegetables every day (fruit should be no more than 2 portions). Aim for colourful fruit and vegetables (eat your rainbow) to gain as many antioxidants as possible. Fruit juices (even fresh) are a bad idea.

3. Specific immune-boosting vegetables: dark green leafy vegetables, like kale, rocket, spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, chard. Cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, Broccoli sprouts, turnips. Make sure you have at least 1-2 cups of each category daily. When it comes to fruit, frozen berries and strawberries, as well as citrus fruit contain the most immune-boosting properties. To the surprise of some, some of the richest foods in vitamin C are broccoli, strawberries, peppers, greens.

4. Water, water, water: You should drink at least 2-3 litres of water depending on your weight and level of activity. You should aim for about 1 litre for every 22kg - especially if exercising.

5. Sulphur-rich foods are great for liver detoxification and for boosting the immune system: garlic, onion, asparagus. Anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger, nuts and seeds, garlic, EVOO, avocado are also very important.

6. You should not forget about your omega fatty acids, found mainly in wild-caught oily fish (like sardines, mackerel, anchovies, wild salmon, herring), dark green leafy veg, EVOO, olives, coconut oil, grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, nuts and seeds and their butters, tahini, avocado.

7. Probably the most important of all is to keep your insulin levels as stable and low as possible. You should seek help from a professional to specify your personal daily carb needs. Keeping carbohydrates to a minimum is very important.

8. Avoid take-aways and deliveries. Make sure that you eat from scratch, so that you know what exactly goes through your body. Don’t forget: your fork is the most powerful medicine.

9. Aim for organic when possible. If, due to the situation, you cannot find everything organic check the 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Clean Fifteen' lists.

10. Adequate amount of protein, either animal or plant-based. Aim for about a palm-size with every meal. Again, this should be specified by a professional.

What supplements should I focus on?

1. At least 4000IU of vitamin D. Higher doses should be taken if you have a chronic or autoimmune disease.
2. 2 grams of vitamin C in a bioavailable form, in divided doses.
3. A strong, quality multi-vitamin.
4. High-strength probiotics.
5. An antioxidant formula (containing zinc, NAC or glutamine etc) or an antioxidant or immune-boosting powder.

*Note that not all supplements are created equal, so it is very important that you avoid high-street supplements and seek the help of a professional for a personalized plan.

What about panicking?

Panic has repeatedly shown that it weakens the immune system. It is very important that at this stage you try to remain calm. Quarantine has been hard for all of us, but you should try to make something good out of this. Some great ideas are:

  • A new exercise routine, like brisk walking in nature or connecting with your friends or even people you don’t know, for live online yoga sessions. Connection can help bring those stress levels down.
  • Begin your day with deep breathing/meditating and have your breakfast out in the sun - when possible.
  • New hobbies, such as creative healthy cooking with the family.
  • Mini trampoline with music! This will boost your lymphatic drainage and improve your immunity.
  • Read your favourite books (feel free to get in touch if you need any suggestions for health/nutrition/mindfulness and self-help related books). Watch your favourite movies.
  • Don’t forget to protect against the UV blue light in the evening.
  • Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Nap if needed.

Self-care and self-love are the most important things to be practised daily, whether in quarantine or not.
Should you have any worries about you or your loved ones being at risk or need a little help with your diet or your supplement regimen or you simply need help to bring those stress levels down, contact me. 

To find a qualified nutritionist visit Nutrition Resource. Many nutritionists offer online and telephone support.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London NW8 & NW1

Written by Olianna Gourli

London NW8 & NW1

Olianna Gourli is a qualified naturopath and nutritional therapist, with a background in science and research (BSc Hons., PhD.c., mBANT, rCNHC). She has great expertise in gastrointestinal issues, such as IBS, hormonal imbalances and women's health, stress and chronic fatigue. She sees clients in her clinics in London, Athens and through Skype.

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