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Looking after ourselves both mentally and physically has always been important. But now, with our current climate it is hitting home for more of us. As manual therapists, the focus for us has always been on how we can improve the muscular-skeletal system through sports massage and sports therapy
 
Nutrition does play an essential part in sport, of course. We have to fuel ourselves appropriately to gain maximum performance. We are now looking at a more holistic approach, particularly during this pandemic, when nutrition can play such an important role in keeping us safe. 
 
In this blog we’ll look at some of the things you can do to boost your immune system and which exercises can help improve your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Can what I eat boost my immune system? 

Simply put, yes. Absolutely. What we put inside our bodies has an enormous effect on our health in all areas. Choosing the right foods can massively impact your ability to fight off illness and viruses like COVID-19. Your immune system is a key player in whether you even get ill in the first place. A robust immune system means you’re less likely to fall ill in the first place. If you do fall ill, you will have a better time recovering and it will happen more quickly than someone with a low or depleted immune system. 

Which foods boost immunity? 

Vitamin C is essential to a healthy functioning immune system and you can find it in fresh fruits and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, garlic and ginger. Where possible try and buy local and fresh which should give you a better quality product. 
 
Eat the rainbow! 
 
Eating a colourful array of foods will mean you are more likely to get the vitamins and minerals you need. Fill half your plate with every colour going to make a beautiful rainbow your body will love. Try things like red peppers, yellow peppers, beetroot, courgettes, carrot, cabbage, and blueberries. 
 
Pick foods high in Omega 3. The essential fatty acid will help white blood cells function properly and you can find it in wild salmon, mackerel, or trout. If you are a veggie like me you can eat almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds (great in a smoothie), walnuts, and winter squash. 
 
What to avoid: 
 
Reduce your sugar intake. I know it’s hard at the moment with the current trend to bake - if you get hold of any flour that is! We’ve made our fair share of flapjacks and brownies, but try and limit your sugar as much as possible. If all else fails my back up plan is some dark chocolate. 
 
If you’d like more expert information on nutrition and health our very good friend and one of the best Functional Medicine Practitioners in the UK, Jo Gamble, has all you need on her website: https://embracingnutrition.co.uk/eating-for-immunity/ 

How does going outside and doing exercise effect my well-being? 

We are so thankful for the amount of sunshine we have had over the last few weeks. It has been difficult to work from home with the lure of the sun making us want to go outside! Getting your daily dose of sunlight is incredibly good for our mental wellbeing. 
 
As Mind explain in their blog on Nature and Mental Health
 
“Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. For example, research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. 
 
Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year. And people tell us that getting into nature has helped them with many other types of mental health problems.” 
 
This is very relevant for us today as we now know the impact vitamin D has on Coronavirus. Spending time in sunlight is a great way to increase your vitamin D. 
 
Move that body 
 
Getting your daily exercise in is key to keeping sane and able to cope with the stress during this pandemic. Not only will it lift your mood and feelings of self-confidence, it could get you outside giving you that well needed vitamin D boost. We love sport and know all too well that moving our bodies gives you that feel good factor. It creates chemical changes that release endorphins, some call it the ‘runner’s high’. 
 
Any activity is good for you, it doesn’t have to be a full on HIIT session, it could be sorting out the garden or doing a deep spring clean of the house. Try and aim for that hour a day we keep hearing about but if not 30 minutes is just as good. 
 
Update: As of the middle of May your exercise is now unlimited, so choose something you enjoy and go for it! 
 
If you do start a new activity such as running, take it steady. When you find something new you enjoy it is very easy to over train and hurt yourself. Follow a plan like Couch-to-5k which is a programme that helps you slowly work up to 5k by jogging for short periods of time initially. 
 
Whatever you choose to do, home workout, walking, running or cycling remember to not pressure yourself. Do what you can when you can and don’t worry if you aren’t managing every day. Do try and get out of the house though, even if it is just for a walk and to soak in some nature. 
 
If you do find yourself with a niggle or an injury don’t keep going as it may get worse. 
 
If you’re concerned about your aches and pains we may be able to help remotely. 
 
Contact one of our therapists for advice by emailing: info@fireandearthuk.com 
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