Naturopathic physician Dr Benita Perch shares her top tips for boosting the immune system
How should we pay attention to lifestyle issues such as sleep during a virus outbreak?
Sleep is a very simple thing that people can do to protect their immune system. Matthew Walker, who wrote Why We Sleep, recommends eight hours. The earlier hours are a deep, restorative sleep that’s really important for our immune systems, and the later hours are rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is good for our mental health. People surviving on five or six hours of sleep are going to crash, and they’re going to be less protected.
What about exercise?
Exercise can be useful for boosting vitality and the immune system, as long as it’s balanced, such as a mix of cardio, yoga and weightlifting. If your life is intense and you pair that with intense exercise, it can actually weaken your immune system, so it’s about hitting that point between too much and too little.
With many people in a more stressful state than normal, what are some ways to keep stress and anxiety in check?
I recommend mindfulness-based activities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, reading and praying if you’re religious — anything that can relax the sympathetic nervous system, as everyone is super stressed at the moment. As for natural remedies, go for B-vitamins, magnesium and herbs — things like Siberian ginseng, lavender and lemon balm. The adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt better to stress and strength the immune system, and the nervines help to nourish the nervous system and relieve a bit of the anxiety.
How can we protect and disinfect the space around us?
As much as you can, try and make sure the air you’re breathing is as clear as possible. It seems to be with the virus that exposure to mould and pollution will further weaken the lung system, so air purifiers are a good option for the home and the office. Diffusing essential oils like tea tree oil has also been shown to be antiviral and antiseptic in some cases. It’s an extra you can do that isn’t guaranteed to be protective but there’s no harm. The small things, such as cleaning doorknobs and mobile phones, are important too.