Continuing Healthy Lockdown Habits as We Come Out of Lockdown Again

Jenny Tschiesche BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT

Continuing Healthy Lockdown Habits as We Come Out of Lockdown Again

It might be tempting, as we move slowly out of lockdown, to drop the healthy habits you have formed during lockdown. However, some of these new routines and practices you’ve found work for you during this period could well be the key to staying healthy. Keeping your immune system strong should be a focus during this time to ensure you don’t get ill and there are some particular healthy habits that could well be at the root of maintaining good health. Let’s explore these and even if these are not habits that you’ve formed they could be areas you might want to focus on now.

Cooking From Scratch

You have undoubtedly found yourself cooking more meals from scratch and preparing more snacks than ever before. The good news is that preparing meals yourself means that you start to produce digestive enzymes even before you eat. Your senses are alive with the sounds and smells of ingredients being chopped, sauteed and simmered. This means that not only do you enjoy the food more when you do eat it, but you digest it better too. Improved digestion means improved absorption so cooking from scratch means you can extract more nutrients from the food you choose.

By and large the food people tend to cook for themselves is healthier that shop-bought ready meals or a takeaway so this is another way in which your health and your immune system can benefit from cooking from scratch. Home cooked meals contain less pesticides, preservatives, chemicals, additives, and colourings. These are all added extras that can inhibit the ability of your immune system to function fully. The clear message is that cooking from scratch tends to mean healthier food choices and better nutrient absorption to try and keep this up even when your life does return to its pre-pandemic busyness.

Getting More Sleep

Being at home more, you may have found it easier to get into a routine where your sleep is concerned. Sleep is a critically important part of your immune system. Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get ill after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get ill.

During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Cytokines need to increase when you have an infection. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep. So, your body needs sleep to fight off viruses. Try and stick to your sleep routine as you move out of lockdown.

Exercising Outdoors

running shoes

One of the benefits of having been “forced” outdoors to do exercise is the potential exposure to sunshine and therefore the potential to maintain or even increase vitamin D levels. Studies suggest that having sufficient levels of vitamin D, which is created in the skin’s lower layers through the absorption of sunlight, plays a key role in immune function and reduces the risk of certain respiratory illnesses.  It works by moderating the immune response without provoking an immune overreaction such as the “cytokine storm” often associated with severe COVID-19 illness.

So even when gyms start to reopen, and your favourite classes become available do try and mix your exercise up a bit. Exercising outdoors when it is sunny and indoors when it isn’t is a good way to increase your chances of maintaining an optimal level of vitamin D. You may also want to take a supplement if this combination proves difficult in terms of time management. Foods do not tend to provide a lot of vitamin D, few are naturally high in this particular vitamin. However, egg yolks, oily fish and dairy products are worth including in your diet.

As you start to emerge from the latest lockdown, you will certainly want to be focused on staying fit and well. Keeping your immune system healthy is very much part of this and cooking from scratch, sufficient sleep, and outdoor exercise can all play a significant part in helping you keep your immune system strong.