REDUCE YOUR RISK OF BECOMING SEVERELY ILL
As the world patiently waits to be vaccinated, staying fit and healthy gives us the best chance to fight covid-19.
Regular exercise, alcohol reduction, quit smoking, eating healthy and ensuring 7-9 hours sleep per night are all measures which can make it less likely to be admitted to hospital with covid-19.
The benefits of regular exercise are constantly communicated to us by health professionals and scientists. It’s a vital component of a healthy lifestyle which has proven well-documented benefits.
When exercising, hormones are released which activates the body’s fight or flight response and increases heart rate. As oxygen is pumped to muscles, the body secretes cortisol which promotes energy release.
Adrenaline activates the immune system and priming it to patrol the body and fight any invaders.
The exercise has an anti-inflammatory response on the body. Although inflammation plays a vital part in defence against foreign invaders, healing and repairing, constant inflammation can lead to DNA damage, tissue death and chronic diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.
It is also theorised that exercise can flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, increase circulation of white blood cells, fight infection due to an increase in body temperature and slow down the release of stress hormones.
Its addition, exercise helps the control of pathogens, increases physical and cardiovascular conditioning, decreases inflammatory and pro-thrombotic states, decreases oxidative stress, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces body fat and improves the immune response.
And don’t forget the ‘runner’s high’ feeling after exercise produced from endorphins.
Stay fit and healthy to fight covid-19. Strengthen the immune system with regular exercise.
Put simply, alcohol weakens the immune system. The toxins in alcohol is known to cause certain types of cancer and particular to covid-19, alcohol increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe complications of covid-19.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have released a fact sheet on ‘Alcohol and Covid-19: what you need to know.
Abstaining from drinking alcohol several days before the vaccination to ensure your immune system is in tip top condition is highly advised.
Stay fit and healthy to fight covid-19 by avoiding excessive alcohol and strengthen your immune system.
There is evidence to suggest that smokers may be more susceptible to serious illness from covid-19. The WHO has completed analysing reviewed studies on the link between smoking and covid-19. The review concluded that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease from covid-19 than non-smokers. In hospitalised patients, smoking was associated with an increased severity of illness and death.
Public Health England (PHE) reported that smokers are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease than non-smokers.
Smoking tobacco damages the lungs and airways causing a range of respiratory problems. Evidence shows that covid-19 attacks the respiratory system. And the repetitive hand to mouth movement of smoking provides an easy infection route for the virus..
Quitting smoking is difficult. Particularly with the stress of the pandemic. There are many organisations that offer help. For more information, click on this link QUITSMOKING.
Eating a healthy balanced diet promotes a good immune system. The British Nutrition Foundation shares tips on how to improve your diet. The BNF have outlined how a poor diet can have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental health.
The following foods are known to reduce anxiety and boost your immune system.
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sea bass and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids. A 2011 study was one of the first to show how consumption of rich omega-3 foods may help to reduce anxiety.
- Antioxidants support the immune system which we already know is crucial in the fight against covid-19. Rich sources of antioxidants are dark chocolate (70% or more), blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, pecans, goji berries, artichokes, kale, red cabbage, pinto beans, spinach and beetroot.
- Vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits and red bell peppers have been shown to support the immune system.
- Magnesium maintains normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system and heart, maintains good bone and helps regulate blood glucose levels. Magnesium rich foods include beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and leafy greens.
- Zinc is known to have some virus-fighting effects. Foods rich in zinc are red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils and beans, hemp, squash pumpkin and hemp seeds, cashew nuts, dairy foods, eggs, whole grains, potatoes and my favourite, dark chocolate (70% plus).
- Herbs and spices also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Good sources are ginger, garlic, turmeric, fenugreek and basil.
Eating healthy natural (ideally organic) foods and avoiding processed package foods will improve your immune system, reduce waistlines and help you to stay fit and healthy to fight covid-19.
Remember, if you can’t pick it, grow it or kill it, don’t eat it!
Lack of sleep can affect the immune system.
Studies have shown that sleep improves immune cells known as T cells. T cells fight against pathogens such as flu, HIV, herpes, cancer and covid-19.
Sleep assists the immune system by increasing the stickiness of a class of adhesion molecules known as ‘integrins’. During sleep, stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline) and (prostaglandins) are low. When these hormones are high, they inhibit the stickiness of integrins.
Sleeping allows the stickiness of these integrins to increase. The integrins stickiness helps T cells to stick to the covid-19 virus and kill the infected cell.
The Sleep Foundation recommend that adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The Sleep Foundation website has useful tips on improving sleep quality. The 7-9 hours advice is also supported by the Mayo Clinic.
The evidence is strong. 7-9 hours per night of quality sleep is a good strategy to stay fit and healthy to fight covid-19.
Help the NHS by helping yourself
So there are my 5 tips to staying healthy during the covid-19 pandemic.
In the UK, vaccinations from Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford Astrazeneca are ploughing ahead. The UK have currently vaccinated over 4 million people with the first jab (21 Jan 2021).
However, it will still take most of 2021 to vaccinate the population with 2 jabs. We must help ourselves and the NHS by taking responsibility for our own health and well-being.
Exercising, reducing alcohol consumption, stop smoking, eating healthier natural foods and getting enough sleep.
By adopting these measures and regular hand-washing, obeying lockdown rules, wearing masks and keeping 2 metres apart, we can all do our bit to stay safe and save lives.