Adapting your diet and lifestyle to boost your immune system

Never before in my memory has the public been so encouraged by the Government to take responsibility for their own and others health and wellbeing. This official response is due to Covid-19 virus and as with all viruses it’s effects will be more acutely felt by certain members of the public. The experts have identified at risk groups and these have been well publicised and debated. They have also given us information and guidance to follow to reduce the risk of covid-19 infection. What they seem to focus on with regard ways in which we might make ourselves less vulnerable to the virus is to address obesity and *diabetes. Health professionals were warning of the impact of the rise in these preventable conditions years ago. GP’s engaged with commercial weigh loss programme providers in a bid to get people to reduce weight. For some this has helped for others not so much. 

As a complementary practitioner my thoughts centre on a more holistic and individual approach. I have for over 30 years encouraged all my patients, especially those at risk, to adapt their diet and lifestyle. To do so now is even more important. Naturally addressing issues of weight and helping build and maintain a strong and healthy immune system, would better place them to fight any viral or bacterial infection they may be unfortunate enough to come across.

My instinct and experience led me to consider the fundamental issue of immunity. If we remove genetics from the debate, for me it starts in the gut. If we eat a healthy diet that contains a variety of quality food. The body, including our immune system should be provided with all the nutrients necessary to maintain healthy function naturally. Problems arise when these vital nutrients are either not provided by the foods we consume or poor eating habits hinder the process of digestion. If you take on board the gut/brain theory it is not difficult to understand the link between what we eat and mood and behaviour.

We know that lifestyle has a direct impact on what and how we eat perhaps now is the time to look closer at the way we live our lives in general and evaluate our individual stressors and what we value. Stress can be the underlying cause for so many patients I see with digestive issues and poor eating habits will often reflect this. Trying to manage a work/life balance and cope with emotional upsets are frequently identified as a symptom triggers. The most common digestive symptoms include indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, abdominal bloating and cramping, constipation or frequent loose stools to name but a few.

There is also the issue of Food Intolerance. Intolerances are not life threatening but can create symptoms that impact on quality of life and are in most cases transient. The methods and tools used to determine food intolerances are varied and keeping a simple food diary my give you clues on what may be triggering your symptoms. It is worth pointing out that face to face testing/consultations offer the opportunity for information and advice to be given, monitoring and follow ups. For some supplementing the diet with vitamins and minerals may prove helpful.

How to adapt. Firstly, think about what you eat. Secondly think about how you eat.

My advice for maintaining a healthy mind and body is eating well, keeping hydrated (drinking water) keeping active, laughing a lot and when able hugging loved ones. It’s not rocket science! It’s common sense, so please use your common sense to stay safe and well and at the same time boost your immune system.    ©AW/2020            

*I refer to Type 2 diabetes in this article.

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