Experts at Qatar Foundation share simple tips that can be incorporated into daily routines
As the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, maintaining a healthy body and mind has become increasingly important – especially with many nations enforcing mandatory curfews and lockdowns.
Making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can be one way to boost your immune system.
Pascale Hadchiti Richa, Senior Supervisor Food & Nutrition at Qatar Foundation (QF), has shared her top tips and tricks to eating well. “Making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can be one way to boost your immune system,” she explains.
“Plus, it can help mix up your meals and increase your intake of important nutrients like protein, performance fats, and fiber.”
Mrs. Richa suggest incorporating fruits such as apples, oranges, lemons, limes, kiwi, and berries into diets, along with vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, kale, and cauliflower.
Other suggestions include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts, along with chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seed.
“Grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry, eggs, tempeh, yoghurt, and legumes are high in protein, while couscous, quinoa, brown rice, oats, farro, barley, and buckwheat are great whole grains.
“Try adding ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and black pepper to your meals, too.”
However, just as important as adding certain foods to your diet to boost your immune system is limiting your intake of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, processed meats, sugary beverages, and added sugar.
And as well as eating well, it is also important to keep stress levels low, which, according to Mrs. Richa may be difficult in the current environment. “When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system won’t function properly, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night.”
One way to combat this stress web is by adopting active breathing techniques.
Sonia Fazal, Senior Yoga Teacher, QF, adds: “The current circumstances about COVID-19 are certainly worrying, but the least we can do about the situation is try not to panic, and, in turn, not create panic.
“Unfortunately, different sources of information can create ambiguity which may lead to fear creating a stress web affecting the physical, mental, and emotional health of a family.”
“One way to combat this stress web is by adopting active breathing techniques,” says Ms Fazal. She suggests a three-minute breathing practice – the 1:2 breathing technique – which has calming effects, and helps to reduce exhaustion and manage anxiety.
Step 1: Sit comfortably, relax your shoulders, and place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up.
Step 2: Exhale completely.
Step 3: Gently and deeply inhale evenly through your nose for two counts.
Step 4: Exhale slowly for four counts.
“Gradually increase the count of inhales and exhales by 1:2 method. For example, four inhales and eight exhales. And, with practice, you can increase the time from three minutes to 10 minutes.”