So, what can we do to keep ourselves as healthy and well as possible in these times?
It seems to me that the number one thing to be aware of is our resilience – our ability to bounce back from any infections and the stresses and strains that inevitably arise from being alive.
Building our Resilience involves many things and here I am focussing on our immunity
70 to 80% of our immune defences live in the gut. The gut lining – all 9 meters of it – contains these immune cells. When the gut is working optimally, we have more defences available to protect ourselves from infections of any kind. Many people have gut problems, ranging from bloating and gas to constipation or diarrhoea and even to full blown irritable bowel syndrome.
How can we help our gut to be the best it can be? The answer to this question is that we can look after the microbes that live in the gut. We have, a huge, 10 times as many microbes as we have cells in our bodies. And about three quarters of these are in the gut. The microbes keep our guts healthy and therefore keep us healthy.
This means that we will function best if we:
- Feed our microbes – with fibre and what is called resistant starch. We can get most of this from fruit and vegetables. But, also from cooked and cooled rice, pasta and potato – these can be reheated and still feed our microbes
- Keep our microbial balance by eating a varied diet including probiotics such as yoghurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir.
Making sure we supply our bodies with enough Vitamin D.
This is the vitamin that we get from sunshine – it strengthens our bones and tissues and keeps us in good shape physically and mentally. And, vitally, it supports our immune system. There has been concern about an ‘epidemic’ of Vitamin D deficiency in the past few years. Concerning – because it means our general resilience is reduced and people are more likely to become ill.
How do we make sure that we have enough vitamin D?
Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. I have seen it recommended that we get 15 minutes of sunshine when we can directly on our skin. Although too much is not good for us as we know.
Food sources include oily fish, dairy products and eggs. For vegans the sources are vitamin D enriched products or supplements. A vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 supplement is recommended as they have a synergy that supports healthy bones.
We need enough vitamin C for normal function of the immune system as well as for growth and repair of body tissues and support for stressful times.
Where can we get our vitamin C from?
Fruit and vegetables provide us with vitamin C. In particular: parsley, kale, green peppers, brussels sprouts and cabbage. With lemons, strawberries, oranges, blackberries and grapefruit a close second.
A vitamin C supplement can help out if fruit and vegetables are not available.
• ‘10% Human’ by Alanna Collen. 2015. William Collins
• ‘Gut’ by Giulia Anders. 2016. Scribe. (now updated)
• ‘The Dictionary of Vitamins’ by L Mervyn. 1984. Thorsons – now out of print.
• BMJ article online re Vitamin D deficiency: