Anxiety and stress are being experienced at high levels during the COVID-19 (aka novel coronavirus) pandemic that has hit us quite hard. From continent to continent, all over the globe, everyone has been affected. May that be physically by contracting the virus, emotionally by assisting the ill, experiencing a loss and feeling the fear of others, or mentally by negative thoughts like: “The world is ending and we’re all going to die!” All of this is inevitable as anxiety and stress is a human phenomenon. What has made the human race distinct from the animal kingdom is the intellect, common sense and the capacity to take actions to help ourselves. Stress and anxiety diminish the body’s capacity to fight off germs, bacteria, viruses and parasites because the brain is excessively engaged in the fear factor a.k.a fight or flight mode, which distracts the brain by sending a natural “defence army” to calm the mind rather than building the barriers and trenches needed to fight illness.
What is important in such a challenging and threatening time is to stay calm and take control of our own health first by focusing on keeping and building a healthy immune system through healthy nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some valuable suggestions on how to do this:
The body is made of approx. 78% fluids and when anxiety and stress kick in, the body tends to dehydrate easily because of the rise in the stress hormone cortisol secreted by the adrenal glands. Especially when fighting symptoms, hydration is necessary to reduce fevers or inflammation. Water is the best liquid to hydrate the body, which is, of course, used to make many beverages such as tea with honey, ginger and lemon or, chicken broth both of which are beneficial to relieve most viral symptoms.
In case of high fever or gastrointestinal upsets, electrolytes in your water help keep the body hydrated longer. If you are going to drink fruit juices, dilute them 1 part juice to 3 parts water to avoid a blood sugar crash which will make you feel worse.
Eat foods that boost the immune system.
A healthy gut is the first goal to maintaining a healthy immune system. Start by adding to your meals foods that are rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, natto (fermented soybeans), tempeh, pickles, olives, raw cheese, kvass (fermented rye), just to mention a few.
Then focus on the intake of vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables, such as vitamin A, C, D, E and K as well as the B complex and Omega 3.
To increase your vitamin C intake you want to look at eating more citrus fruits, red bell peppers, papaya, cantaloupe, guava and strawberries, since the body cannot produce it. If they aren’t available, it is recommended to take it in supplement form, with a daily intake of 65-90 mg to a max of 2000 mg. Overdosing on Vitamin C does not cause harm because its water soluble and gets eliminated in the urine. However, when consuming over 3000 mg daily it can cause diarrhea, heartburn, headache, fatigue, flushing, insomnia and nausea. So, there is no point in taking more that the recommended dose as it will get flushed out by the kidneys. If you are suffering chronic liver or kidney conditions, gout, or a history of calcium-oxalate kidney stones, take no more than 1,000 mg a day. If you choose to reduce your vitamin C intake, reduce 500 mg per week until you reach the dosage you desire, to allow your metabolism to gradually adjust. Keep in mind that the best source of vitamin C is in fruits and vegetables.
To increase your vitamin A intake make sure you eat plenty of sweet potato, broccoli, red bell peppers and carrots. Add to your daily foods almonds, hazelnuts and peanut butter, as well as broccoli and greens, such as spinach, to increase the antioxidant vitamin E. By eating fish, cod liver oil, eggs, caviar, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, yogurt, fortified tofu, beef or calf liver, fortified cereal, you give your body a boost of vitamin D, good for your bones and mood. Foods with vitamin K (blood clotting factor) are leafy greens such as kale, spinach, dandelion, Swiss chard, parsley, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, endive and escarole, just mention a few. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble and get stored in the body. They can harm the body if taken in over dosages. Always seek professional advice when taking fat soluble supplements to make sure you are taking the right dosage according to your metabolism. All these foods suggested above also contain Omega 3 fatty acids needed for cardiovascular health and vitamin B complex needed for the productions of healthy skin, eyes, nervous system, hemoglobin (red blood cell oxygenation), the breakdown and release of energy from foods, and the breakdown fat. Vitamin B complex needs to be replenished daily with food as the body does not store it.
Proteins derived from lean animal or plant-based (chickpeas, lentils, beans and peas) sources are also important to boost and maintain a healthy immune system by regulating existing cells and generating new ones. Nuts and seeds also provide antioxidants, while meat, shellfish, and legumes supply zinc, the mineral that helps maintain immune cells and heal wounds.
A Health Conscious Lifestyle: This would include getting sufficient sleep according to your metabolism. Some may need 7-8 hours, while others are great with 6 hours. Moderate exercise and walks in nature can help release the tension and stress caused by the overwhelming news and updates on the pandemic. Although social distancing is highly recommended as a precaution for those that may not have symptoms, stay connected with people by calling, texting and having positive conversations. Spiritual practices may help also to calm down anxiety, such as prayer, chanting or meditation. Breathing techniques are very useful to reduce stress and anxiety. One exercise that works best is the Breath of 7, where you inhale through your nose counting up to 7 in your mind, then hold your breath counting up to 7 in your mind and exhale through your nose counting up to 7 always in your mind. The counting distracts your mind from your negative stress-induced thoughts. Exhaling through your nose releases the tension in your head.
Overall, staying informed on how to overcome this pandemic is essential for faster global healing and peace of mind.
Maria Grazia Bevilacqua, Doctor of Natural Medicine, Doctor of Humanitarian Services, Registered Orthomolecular Nutritionist, Registered Etheric Health Practitioner specialized in Energy Medicine and Vibrational Medicine, Certified Hypnotist, Certified Spiritual Healer, Advanced Psyc-k facilitator, Reiki Master, and 3 time #1 International Bestselling author.