With spring on its way – yet cool days still ahead there is need in these challenging times to continually support our bodies via healthy Nutrition and Lifestyle.
Brief periods of stress are actually good for us (as in ten minutes!) However if we live in constant “fight or flight mode” (with the On switch always On,) hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are constantly in circulation and this is detrimental to immunity.
Let’s look at ways to minimise this heightened state we have become accustomed to operating under.
- Belly breathing, also called Diaphragmatic Breathing – (lots of online guidance around this, Apps etc.) Benefits are endless for the entire body; lowers heart rate, lowers blood pressure, reduces cortisol and adrenaline, allows nutrients to be correctly assimilated and so on. I learned correct breathing techniques many years ago and it changed my life.
- Practice regular yoga/meditation – (again lots available online, Apps etc.) Regular practice is key. Check out; www.thebrightpath.com for meditation courses, this is a lovely easy practice that doesn’t require sitting in lotus position on a mat all day! A course is being held in Whangarei in September I believe. Also incorporate restorative therapies such as Qi Gong or Chi Gong and Tai Chi, local classes are available.
- Minimise your intake of caffeinated beverages. Coffee pushes up heart rate – especially if we are already stressed! (Stick to one cup and avoid drinking after noon.)
- Make time for things you love to do, reading, gardening, time in nature – hobbies in general, whatever floats your boat.
- Get adequate sleep and rest. Sleep provides the opportunity to complete the opposite of what occurs when we are in Fight and Flight – allowing the body to relax, restore and rejuvenate.
- Stay socially connected. Family, friends, community groups all play an important part, connecting with positive people boosts mood/morale and therefore immunity. In clinic we see people with chronic disease and viral infections who haven’t got the raw materials the body needs. The body needs certain materials to fight pathogens, here are some key points.
- Eat fresh foods, search out the freshest fruit and vegetables or grow yourself if possible. Seek local growers and markets; this will guide you around seasonal eating. Produce that is grown in season is most affordable.
B Vitamins; vital for nervous system support, cardio vascular system, brain function. Best food sources are liver, whole grains, leafy greens, pulses, spirulina, mushrooms, nutritional yeast
Vitamin A; vital for mucous membrane health and support, think sinus, respiratory, lung, digestion. Best food sources; liver, oily fish, dark leafy greens-yellow/orange vegetables.
Vitamin E; helps protect cell membranes and build specialised immune molecules, vital for heart health. Best sources are; nuts and seeds, (unheated fresh) nut oils.
Vitamin D; modulates an immune response, vital for intestinal absorption of calcium and magnesium.
Recent studies indicate 84% New Zealanders tested are deficient.If you get sick frequently or suffer osteoporosis you may be deficient. If you have been in MIQ/self isolation enjoy exposure to moderate sunlight for 20 minutes about three times a week, obviously avoid burning. Best food sources are; liver, sardines/oily fish, mushrooms, onion, legumes. Sometimes supplementation is required, be guided by your nutritionist.
Vitamin C; protects capillaries, veins, arteries, supports all aspects of immunity, shortens severity of cold or flu. Vitamin C is abundant in the diet, readily available in fresh foods, cooking can destroy, sources are; citrus, all fresh, fruits and vegetables. Supplementation; Liposomal is favourable as it has greater bioavailability
Zinc; involved in healthy immune response – supports cell integrity, healthy production of neutrophils, natural killer cells, also responsible for taste, smell, wound healing, healthy growth. I offer a simple test that checks levels. Best food sources; shellfish, pumpkin seeds.
Selenium ; New Zealand soil is deficient. Supports immunity and reduces oxidative stress – 3 x Brazil Nuts daily will provide your RDI.
Minerals; NZ soil is depleted. Minerals are deemed the pour cousins of the vitamin world but are crucial for thousands of actions within the body and are vital for healthy absorption of all nutrients. I recommend supplementation in my clinic; Active Elements or Quinton Marine Plasma.
Jan van der Lee is a Clinical Nutritionist based at Waipu Natural Health
Ph: 09 4321325