When you own a business, it is stressful on a good day let alone during a time when so many factors outside of your control are happening domestically and abroad—potentially affecting your bottom line.
Stress can affect your emotional state, which can affect your decision making if you let your emotions take the best of you. It can also weaken your immune system. While the reasons for this correlation remain unclear, in the short-term stress can heighten our awareness and energy levels due to the flight-or-fight response. However, long-term stress has the opposite effect. It can create inflammation in the body causing the immune system to overreact leading to potential autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis and arthritis, for example. Stress can even initiate and worsen skin conditions like psoriasis, hives, or eczema—or worse, it can trigger asthma attacks.
It is precisely times like these when extra care is needed to make sure you come out unscathed, which is why I turned to the renowned doctors at the uber exclusive, Clinique La Prairie located in Switzerland where the world’s elite have gone for over 80 years to achieve holistic wellness. Since most of us will never have the opportunity to tap into the vast knowledge of these doctors personally, I wanted to see what they would be willing to share in terms of simple lifestyle changes that can be incorporated into your daily routine so that you can move these tougher times with ease, grace, and feeling strong emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
The Top Tips To Boost Immunity From Doctors At The World-Renowned Clinique la Prairie SpaIf there’s one take away from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that boosting immune system health should be a top priority for everyone. Social distancing and protective gear may help prevent person-to-person spread, but we can’t live in a bubble forever.
Our immune system is vital to our survival. It protects us from viruses, bacteria, parasites, and many other pathogens. It’s comprised of a vast network of cells and tissues that are constantly on the lookout for intruders, which once spotted, formulates a complex attack.
As a general rule, our immune system builds strength over time. This is one of the reasons why children get sick more often than teens and adults. There are three types of immunity in humans: innate, adaptive, and passive.
Innate immunity includes the external barriers of our body like the skin and mucous membranes of the throat and gut. Adaptive (also known as acquired) immunity is the buildup of various antibodies either through disease or vaccinations because our body amazingly remembers past invaders. Passive immunity is a temporary immunity that comes from another source—for example antibodies a mother passes to her child through breast milk.
Our immune system is miraculous. But being such a complicated and intricate system—a lot can go wrong, which is why it’s important to make sure that it’s in tip top shape so that it can do its job.
Clinique La Prairie, known for treating society’s elite with legendary medical and wellness programs, has been on the cutting edge of better-aging research and treatments for over 80 years. With a fleet of over 50 medical experts, guests that come to the clinic (or stay at their private chalet in Verbier, Switzerland) have every organ of their body closely examined to obtain an in-depth look at their state of health.
With most people on lockdown and travel prohibited, two doctors from Clinique La Prairie offered up some of their top tips for anyone looking to boost their immunity during this uncertain and stressful time.
Dr Mounir Ziadé is a certified specialist in rheumatology, physical medicine, and rehabilitation in addition to specializing in musculoskeletal medical ultrasound scanning and manual medicine.
“It’s essential to keep your brain as healthy as possible,” he tells me of his philosophy on living a long and healthy life. “Start by doing everything you can to maintain your memory, including challenging your mind, having positive relationships with family, friends, and other people in the community (while practicing social distancing), engage in physical exercise, and get adequate sleep. All these basic factors are essential to healthy development.”
Dr. Ziadé is also a big believer in eating a heart-healthy diet. “It’s important, since your brain relies on a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered through the bloodstream,” he explains. With the pandemic Dr. Ziadé also suggests that people search for greater meaning in life. “Be grateful for what you have and receive. Savor everyday pleasures. Be mindful and be compassionate with yourself and others.” Dr. Ziadé believes that engaging in exercise, focusing on overall wellbeing, and managing stress are the keys to getting through the unprecedented challenge caused by coronavirus. Below are a few of his specific suggestions:
Exercise“Whatever your age, exercise is one of the best things you can do to keep your body and mind strong and improve your quality of life,” states Ziadé. You can even benefit from everyday activities that aren’t exercise. “Everyday movement not only improves your quality of life, but also helps you to burn more calories. You can benefit from the energy you burn through ordinary activities that you don’t think of as exercise, such as fidgeting, carrying the laundry upstairs, dancing around the house to your favorite tune, or even standing or walking while you talk on the phone.”
General Exercise Tips
- To keep our bodies healthy and functioning effectively, it’s important to match regular exercise with a well-balanced diet. While some people may have a bad diet and not put on weight, this is not a sign of good health. Fresh food high in nutrients will help our bodies to function effectively.
- While it all depends on your overall fitness goals, one 30-minute session of exercise three times a week is enough to keep you moderately fit
- While many job types require people to be active and on their feet during the day, it is still recommended for those workers to do additional exercise on a regular basis. By modern standards, physical exertions at work and home are very much restricted. What’s more, even for those of us who are on our feet all day long, sport helps to balance posture and strengthen the least exercised muscles too.
- The more varied the fitness program you complete the more beneficial it will be. Even if people enjoy doing the same exercises all the time, it is more effective to mix things up on a regular basis so that you get a more comprehensive workload.
- There is a misconception that yoga should purely be practiced by those who are flexible. However, it’s precisely when you feel rigid that you should practice it. You should take things gently and little by little until you improve your flexibility
- For those who are concerned that they won’t find yoga enjoyable compared to more rigorous exercise, there is a variety of yoga types to choose from to suit each person’s ability and needs. For instance, if you are looking for something involving movement, you should not opt for meditational yoga and instead go for a more physical discipline such as hatha yoga
- Yoga is a fantastic stress-reliever, as learning to control our breathing helps to manage both our emotions and overall psyche. Yoga is also ideal for those who are either nervous or anxious, as the concentration it requires gives them a focus to become rebalanced
- Although progressing in yoga takes time, 2 to 3 20-minute sessions per week is a perfect starting point and is something you can easily practice at home if you don’t have access to a studio
WellbeingRegarding general wellbeing, Dr. Ziadé says, “In order to protect yourself, it’s important to take care of your body and mind. Breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques are quick and simple ways to help prevent illness and boost longevity. Their essential function is to release tension and positively nourish the brain. The body will then be better able to defend itself and resist stress, as well as benefiting from immune system stimulation.”
Stress ManagementManaging stress and anxiety can be a challenge in this uncertain time. Symptoms can include tightness in the plexus, tension in the shoulders, contracted jaws, and shortness of breath. Taking care of your mind and finding a healthy balance are essential in protecting yourself, boosting your energy levels and keeping your entire system running smoothly. Practicing yoga, comfort postures, breathing techniques, visualizations and meditation will help to soothe your head and allow your body to regain control. And mostly don’t worry—be happy.
Dr. Adrian Heini is a doctor of internal and preventive medicine with a specialization in Clinical Nutrition. When I ask Dr. Heini on what his overall philosophy towards health is especially as we go through the pandemic he tells me, “One way is ‘mindfulness’, meaning that you may rediscover little basic things like wind, noise of leaves, water, singing birds, or the movement of clouds, because we have more time for it.”
“A balance between mental and physical health is fundamental,” continues Heini.” Also, good to know in times of quarantine, is that low-intensity exercise is optimal for a good immune function since high-intensity exercises can be detrimental for the immune system.”
Dr. Heini believes that practicing mindfulness, making sure to eat a balanced diet, adding certain supplements into our daily lives, and getting restful sleep are the keys to living a healthy life in general as well as getting through this pandemic. Below you will find his specific suggestions:
Mindfulness And Looking Inward“We may reflect and think about what would create a better harmony in life,” says Dr. Heini. “The coronavirus may also provide us with some lessons: like the downside of globalization, traveling, and business-oriented behaviors instead of focusing on humanistic, cultural, or environmental values. This may be a time of opportunity.”
DietNutrition plays an important preventative role in maintaining health since what you eat affects your body resistance and the way you feel every day. By consuming a variety of food, you gain from thousands of phytochemicals acting together to help provide you protection against inflammation, oxidative stress, and low immune activity.
Let’s not forget the importance of proteins, adds Dr. Heini, which are necessary for a good function of the immune system. Obviously, the protein intake should be done with high quality and low-fat proteins like eggs, lean dairy products, lean beef, fish, etc. Drinks: It is good to combine fruit drinks and to drink green tea, containing specific antioxidants. Fruit drinks are best made from seasonal (fresh) fruits, since they contain a maximum of vitamin C
- Phytochemicals in cranberries are well known for their anti-oxidative and antimicrobial properties, increasing innate immunity and resistance to infection. Proanthocyanidins, a bioactive compound of cranberries, enhances immune response.
- Pomegranates are an incredible source of bioactive compounds, which boast a variety of beneficial health effects. They are rich in ellagic acid, ellagitannins, punicic acid, anthocyanidins, anthocyanins and flavones which have been found to have strong therapeutic effects, acting as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumoral
- Green tea has been shown to increase lifespan and stress resistance, protecting against oxidative processes and tumor formation. Green tea contains a unique amino acid, I-theanine, reported to promote longevity through its antioxidant properties. The polyphenolic catechins of green tea have also been found to provide health benefits, including the prevention of neurodegenerative and heart diseases
- Sweet potato, pumpkin, papaya, and mango have high levels of beta-carotene, a fat-soluble compound, which gives each its orange-yellow color. Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, an important immunomodulator that enhances the body’s defense mechanism through stimulating the immune cells
SupplementsWhile Dr. Heini is a ‘whole food diet’ person, he does not exclude the transitory use of vitamins. Vitamin C is important for strengthening the immune system. The antioxidant vitamins: beta-carotene and vitamin E are also important. Often it is recommended to do supplementation cures with zinc. Let’s not forget vitamin D, not only known for the bone structure, but also for its immune-modulatory function. Last but not least, omega 3, from fish, canola, or grapeseed oil since it plays an important anti-inflammatory role.
SleepDeep, restorative sleep is the key to inner balance and good health, yet for many people it can seem like a luxury. Promoting deep and sufficient sleep will contribute to a good immune function (melatonin production and other factors).
The Five Commandments Of Deep And Healthy Sleep
- Cut all contact with screens two hours before going to sleep. The blue light emitted by computers, smartphones and tablets penetrates the melanocytes, which act on melatonin and cause insomnia
- Avoid stimulants after 4 p.m. As well as alcohol, which becomes a stimulant after four hours
- Do not eat just before going to bed. Digestion is not conducive to falling asleep
- Slow the pace. Before going to bed, take a walk, listen to music, or read a book
- Avoid violent images or stories. The brain secretes hormones that are harmful to the process of falling asleep