“We do not fear the unknown; we fear what we think we know about the unknown.” Professor Chris Exley
I feel like I have been working toward self-sufficiency all my life. My health has always been my responsibility and in times like this I know why. Food has always been something that I spend more on compared with anything else I choose to do. Movement, sleep and daily rituals ensure my body – although living in a modern world – has the ingredients to meet its evolutionary needs.
If current events have you considering your immunity, here are some tips to help boost your health – which is important at all times, not just in a crisis.
1. Get to bed early, don’t stay up and watch Netflix or flick through your phone or iPad. Stay away from any direct lights at least an hour before bed, longer if you can. Light prevents melatonin, the sleeping and healing hormone, being made. Sleep and healing are two important modalities for a strong immune system.
2. Wake up early and watch the sunrise. Once you have had darkness in your life (sleep and night) then your body is ready to stop the production of melatonin, increase serotonin and dopamine, and ready itself to make vitamin D. Circadian rhythms for every part of your body (and they do differ) are set during this time and your body has the ability to make energy from light, food and good quality water. Vitamin D and energy are important for immunity.
3. Let your skin see the sun. Throughout the day go outside and let your face and skin have exposure to the sun without protection. TS Wiley in her book Lights Out says that 10 minutes of sunlight after a good night’s sleep is enough to make the vitamin D needed to run the body.
4. Get back into your kitchen to feed and nourish your family to heal this nation – this is my favourite quote from Dr Natasha Campbell McBride.
Processed foods, ultra-processed foods, foods made from chemicals, fake meats, fake cheeses, foods produced with aggressive agricultural chemicals and refined foods and chemicals masquerading as food should not be consumed.
Instead find a local farmers market, buy individual ingredients without labels and packaging and start going back to the way we should eat. With individual real foods like meat, eggs, fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds we can make thousands of different, healthy foods for ourselves and our families.
The kitchen is where we will build a strong immune system by feeding the body the foods it knows what to do with. The thousands of chemicals introduced into our food supply over the past four decades have destroyed people’s health and immune system. The death toll from Covid-19 is highest among people who have other comorbidities like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other metabolic diseases, as well as the elderly.
5. Support your mental health by stopping any negative mentations. Mentations are circular thoughts that never end. Some that you might be experiencing right now are: I’m so scared, why me, what’s this all about, why now, it’s not fair, I won’t be able to stay in isolation, it’s too hard, I don’t have enough money, and so on. Writing in a gratitude journal may stop these mentations. When a mentation pops up, listen to it and change it to something that is more positive. Every day I write in my gratitude journal 10 things I’m grateful for. If I’m struggling I write about the sun coming up, the rain watering my garden, my children being happy and healthy.
There is a lot of fear and negativity and it’s important to turn these around. Let me give you an example how this can happen. The Nutrition Academy (our education arm) teaches at a 2nd year university level to the New Zealand College of Chiropractic. Six weeks before my usual professor was due to teach, she said she was no longer available. I was faced with having to find a new professor that understood the philosophy of what I teach, who could create the classes and deliver an eight-week nutrition course. So, I decided to deliver the whole of the nutrition course to the students online. Another benefit of doing this is that I can deliver the same recording to The Australian College of Chiropractic in Adelaide in 2021.
From a dilemma about how I was going to solve the problem both economically and physically, I was given a golden opportunity. I have immense gratitude to the universe for delivering this solution to me and my team. Watch for the beautiful synchronicities that happen with neighbours, family, friends and situations. They will be there, you just have to be open to them.
6. Declutter your pantry, bathroom and laundry of harmful chemicals and ultra-processed foods. Now is a great time to become educated about the chemicals that you may be exposed to. Back in the 1980’s I read an informative book about chemicals and hormone disrupters. The book was called Our Stolen Future by three prominent scientists. It talked about the amount of chemicals that were circulating in our home and land environment, affecting even the animals in the Arctic Circle.
I’d always been particular about every purchase I made from food to personal care products and cleaning agents. The problem was that I couldn’t find suitable chemical-free alternatives. So, my husband and I created Changing Habits and sold the food and real food supplements I wanted in my pantry. We also created our own cleaning products without fragrances (only essential oils) and chemicals. And I found twenty8.com for my personal care products.
Use up what you have and then start slowly swapping out things from your pantry, laundry, bathroom and kitchen sink. You may not have the ability to change what is happening outside your own back yard but you do have the ability to make sure that your home is a safe, healthy environment.
7. Invest in growing your own food. For the past year The Nutrition Academy has been working towards creating an online program on growing your own edible garden. Now more than ever, learning about growing food rather than lawns is imperative. When everyone was buying toilet paper, I was germinating more seeds to grow food in my garden.
We have teamed up with an inspirational educator and called our new program the Incredible Edible Garden. I know that seeds are at a premium but in this course you will learn to grow things from cuttings and even foods from your local producer. Morag Gamble, our educator from the Permaculture Education Institute, gave me a few cuttings which I stabbed into my garden. I gave no care to these plants but have just recently harvested an incredible amount of root vegetables. Another cutting has delivered a beautiful spinach, and the story continues. I’m in awe.
Other things that have grown crazy are my tomatoes, pumpkin and watermelon. And to top it off I’ve learnt the value of weeds. Warrigal greens, farmers friend, billy goat weed, gotu kola, tropical chickweed, flea bane, paddy’s lucerne and porcelain all make their way into my teas and salads. These must be harvested only from places where your council have not sprayed any glyphosate. Deep into natural parks is where you may find some good sources of these wonderful foods. Or if you have acreage, can I recommend you buy Heidi Merika’s book Wildcraft to identify and use them accordingly.
Don’t think the only food is what you buy, there is so much more you can do. I’m always in awe of when I plant a seed and with the help of soil, water and sun it becomes a food that will feed my family. My garden just gives and gives. My plants go to seed and then when the rain arrives they grow again. Healthy foods from healthy soils will enhance your health and strengthen your immune system.
8. There is a lot of talk about supplements for the immune system. For me, it’s not about one or two supplements, but rather about a whole way of living. It’s about everything that we have talked about here and then using high concentrated foods to enhance what you are already doing. Vitamin C in large doses has been shown to have the ability to kill some viral infections. Emergency situations call for emergency procedures, whether it is a high potency supplement or medication. But, for prevention, we can raise the amount of vitamin C we consume by using real foods like camu camu and Kakadu plum. Vitamin C can be found in citrus (now coming into season), acerola and berries to name a few.
Every morning I squeeze an orange into a glass and add a capful of Organic Colloidal Minerals and 1 Tbsp of Peak Performance. Peak Performance contains camu camu, green powder mix, fermented foods for pre- and probiotics, as well as anti-inflammatory herbs. It’s a perfect top up for a lifestyle conducive to a strong and healthy mind, body and thus immune system.
Other nutrients that are important include:
Zinc – found in oysters and red meat. Alternatively, try a liquid zinc by Fulhealth (search online for stockists).
Vitamin D – can be gained through sleep and sunlight.
Iodine – found in Changing Habits Seaweed Salt.
Magnesium – use twenty8 Magnesium Oil on your skin and go for walks in forests with old ferns; they give off magnesium which we can then breath in. Good quality chocolate is also filled with magnesium.
Selenium – helps with health and immunity. You will find this in white meats, brazil nuts and fish. If the soil is rich in selenium, it will be found in the foods that are grown in it. Good quality soils rich in minerals and microbes create the healthiest plants and animals for us to consume.
9. Broths are my go-to. To a basic bone broth can be added organic gelatin, turmeric powder, freshly ground pepper, seaweed salt and organic curry powder for taste. If you don’t have time to prepare your own, then Changing Habits can help with our range of dehydrated broths.
10. Try my Green Power Booster! If you have some herbs in your garden then go out and pick anything that is green (and even a chili won’t hurt). Choose things like basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, warrigal greens, and even some cobblers peg leaves. De-stem them and put them in a blender with seaweed salt, freshly ground pepper, inca inchi oil (high in omega 3’s), inca inchi seeds (high in omega 3’s) and apple cider vinegar. Now make them into a smooth paste like pesto and add this to your foods as a booster for immunity and health.
If you have been following Changing Habits for a while, tick off what you are already doing and choose one new thing to start today. Slowly implementing these 10 immune boosting tips will not only improve your immune system but your whole physical and mental wellbeing.
Happy Changing Habits!