The expert tips to bolster our immune systems as we transition out of lockdown living.
As we prepare to ease out of lockdown and begin to re-enter normality (prerequisite mask and sanitiser in hand) we’re checking in with some of our favourite wellness experts to gather their tips on how to be best prepared for this next phase.
From ensuring a balanced diet, introducing additional supplements, manifesting a good quality sleep, and intuitively integrating movement into the everyday, here’s all you need to know.
Amelia Freer Nutritional Therapist
Amelia says, “The idea that we can ‘boost’ our immunity, however enticing it may seem, is a bit of a misnomer. There is no one thing we can eat, take, or do that truly bolsters our immune system. Immune balance is perhaps what we should be aiming for instead, which itself is achieved through a variety of wider healthy lifestyle choices and habits.”
“Perhaps the most important place to begin is not with diet, but instead with sleep. Consistent, restorative sleep is one of the most important lifestyle factors we can influence that impacts our immune function. Try to watch caffeine intake after 1pm, and minimise the use of screens and devices in the evening as much as possible.”
“Our overall dietary pattern is generally more important than individual nutrients when it comes to immune function. Enjoying a widely varied, balanced, and colourful diet, packed full with minimally processed whole foods, is a brilliant place to start. To help achieve this, I like to use this basic rule-of-thumb when it comes to assembling a nourishing plate of food”:
- Fill half the plate with colourful vegetables (raw or cooked).
- Add about ¼ plate of high-quality protein (eggs, unprocessed meat, fish, pulses/beans, natural yoghurt, tofu).
- Include some complex, minimally processed carbohydrates if you’re feeling hungry, you have higher energy needs, or are active (new potatoes, sweet potatoes, wholegrains).
- Don’t forget a little (approximately the size of your thumb) healthy fat such as: nuts, seeds, avocado, or olive oil.
- Include a boost of flavour (pepper, chilli flakes, lemon zest, vinegars).
“Alcohol can impair normal immune function, particularly at high intakes. So be conscious to keep any alcohol consumption to a sensible level. Try to avoid binge drinking, have two or three alcohol-free days each week, and stick to less than 14 units of alcohol per week in total.”
Jules Miller Founder and CEO of The Nue Co.
The Nue Co. was founded by Jules Miller in 2017. The brand makes clean, organic health supplements from natural ingredients proven to target real health issues and improve energy, focus, mood, skin, sleep, and digestion.
Jules says, “It’s estimated that as much as 70% of our immune system resides in our gut, so there’s an intrinsic link between supporting the diversity and integrity of your microbiome, and having stronger immune health. Our immune system isn’t something that can be switched on or off; supporting your immune system is part of your holistic health picture. Everything from spending time outside, to sleep and moderating stress, is just as important as taking an immunity-focused supplement and supporting your gut microbiome.”
“Supplements are not intended to replace a healthy and balanced diet. I always recommend to turn to diet first if you are looking to boost your wellbeing. If you are inconsistent with your food, supplements are a great option B. We use a lot of food-based ingredients in our supplements. For example, DEBLOAT+ contains organic turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon – all of which have been used for many years in Eastern medicine for their anti-inflammatory properties.”
Katie Brindle Chinese Medical Practioner and Founder of the Hay'ou Method
Katie Brindle is a practitioner of Chinese medicine, author, and founder of natural beauty and skincare brand, Hayo’u.
Katie says, “Body gua sha is a Chinese self-massage technique. Scientists have discovered that it up-regulates anti-inflammatory and immune boosting enzymes. It also offers a unique stimulation of the immune system through fascia and connective tissue.”
“Body tapping is a great way to encourage the circulatory system, which is crucial to good health. Focus on the thymus gland and abdomen for immunity. Proper breathing is vital to support your immunity too, switching your body into its parasympathetic, or rest phase. I practice my Smiling Breath daily, because it only takes one minute!”
“Your body uses sleep to regenerate. Chinese Medicine believes that whilst we sleep, our defensive energy (Wei Qi) moves from the exterior to the interior, penetrating down into the organs to do repair work. If you have toxicity in your bloodstream, your blood is going to stay on the surface to avoid taking toxins deeper into your body. And if your Wei Qi stays on the surface, it will affect your sleep. Strong immunity relies upon this efficient circulation of Wei Qi, so you can see how sleep and immunity all tie in together.”
“Finally, Elderberry has long been used in Chinese medicine. It’s called Jie Gu Mu and is used to boost Lung Qi (immunity) and Kidney Qi (energy reserves).”
Emilia Herting and Maeve O'Sullivan Co-Founders of Escapada Health
Escapada Health takes a holistic and integrative approach to wellbeing with clinics in Hamburg and Ireland and a restorative retreat in Mallorca.
Co-founders Emilia and Maeve understand the importance of combatting stress to protect long-term health: “Modern day living has become a juggling act. We may not necessarily feel stressed, but our bodies recognise it as a state of stress because there is no downtime. Stress hormones flood the body, and we start to feel minor events as critical events and a vicious cycle commences. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that stress, when either long-lasting, very intense, or both, will ultimately create disease in the body. The physical impact of stress can harm the physiological function of certain organs, and over time, that can cause long-lasting effects.”
“Our recommended mindful practise to help ease stress & anxiety at Escapada Health is based on our four pillars: Mindful Treatments, Mindful Selfcare, Mindful Eating, and Mindful Movement. We have provided our top practises below to try at home.”
“Creating positive morning rituals can be a real game changer in reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Block off at least 30 minutes and practise mindful self-care”:
- Drink water to support hydration and detoxification.
- Move your body and breath consciously to increase oxygen supply and relax the mind.
- Meditate and set a clear and positive intention for the day ahead.
“All bodily processes are moving processes, hence the importance of mindful movement when feeling out of balance. Break your movement down into the concept of yin (calm, slow, stretching) and yang (active, speed, high intensity). Our bodies need a balance of both and at times we need more of one style than the other. If feeling stuck and irritable, this is liver Qi stagnation in the body, so you need to choose high tempo yang exercises like running, cycling, and dancing. If feeling low and anxious, this is kidney and heart imbalance in the body, so you need to choose low tempo yin methods including yoga, stretching, and walks in nature.”