Managing Stress and Immune System During The Corona Virus Outbreak

Look after your digestion and your body will look after itself

Caroline Sproule

With the coronavirus pandemic increasing, and people  self-isolating and working from home for a currently unknown length of time, I thought I would offer some tips and strategies to help maintain a strong immune system and help you cope with the stress which may affect us in the coming months.

I also want to try and stay positive right now. There is a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions, however, there are several things that we can be sure of in reality . It will pass . Life will resume as normal soon. We will go back to work as before.

But until then, there are a few things we can all do to support ourselves. So lets try and use the time wisely and make positive steps to combat this threat.Self care is vital right now .

We need to do everything we can to stay healthy as hiding away and hoping for the best is only ever a short term solution. In general we can use this time hopefully to get healthier and get outdoors and eat better. This way we will always be less likely to catch whatever goes around. As we know viruses are always going to be around and ready to  attack those people who are less healthy or unwell.

Our immune system is designed cleverly to be able to respond like paramedics to any attack on it. And I believe very strongly that the corona virus will be much less likely to attack those with strong immune sytems.This is why children are less affected because they have stronger immune sytems and are  more active.

So, on a positive note we can arm ourselves like soldiers going to war and do what we can to stay strong. If immune systems can fight a bad bout of flu they can fight the corona virus. But it may require a little bit of  effort and force us to make some dietary and lifestyle changes.

But sometimes this is not easy for anyone who does not have an healthy outlook on eating or drinking etc .Sometimes we need to invest in our health and make an effort rather than sitting back  and hoping for the best.

I have always been a great believer in taking your health into your own hands!! And there is certainly no better time than now. I know I would rather be ready to fight it or at least minimise the impact.


Building a strong immune system can be achieved in a few different ways but mainly by eating healthy, supporting our gut health and keeping actively and managing stress. Along with the hygiene tips which  the Department of Health has advised us, we want to inform you about what else you can be doing right now to support yourself and your loved ones:

  • Eat a wide range of colourful fruit and veg. . This is the best way to ensure that you’re achieving a good daily intake of  vitamin C, A, B, zinc, and selenium. Also increase your daily intake of foods with a particularly high antioxidant content such as berries, dark leafy green vegetables (e.g. kale,  spinach, savoy cabbage), cacao, and citrus fruits, to provide further protection for your immune system as well as respiratory tract.
  • Try making  broths. Vegetable and bone broths (e.g. chicken, lamb, beef) are full of  the healing amino acid, L-glutamine, which supports gut health by improving the health of the gut wall, which in helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Supporting gut strength is vital in immunity. This is because our immune sytem strength depends on the health of our bowels. People with IBS are more prone to viruses than those with a healthy bowel function, so it is important to address any bowel issues. I recommend a strong probiotic Pro B 11 and to take 2 per day with food . We can also support it by increasing our daily intake of prebiotic fibre-rich foods such as onions, garlic, leeks,  as well as probiotic bacteria-rich foods such as raw sauerkraut and kefir.
  • Spice up your drinks or food We all love a good cup of tea, and this is the perfect time to use your spices and try  freshly grated ginger or turmeric tea. Well known for their immune enhancing properties and reducing inflammation,or a hint of sweetness.
  • Drink more water and less tea and coffee. Unsurprisingly, we need to stay properly hydrated for our body to function optimally and this goes for our immune system too. Regular water intake can even help to wash any lingering pathogens in the throat down into digestive tract for the stomach acid to kill off, providing additional protection for our immune system.Make sure you filter water first or drink bottled awater to reduce chlorine intake.

Here are some additional practical tips for you:

  • Use what you already have.This is the time to finally use those odd  tins in the back of the cupboard to good use! Add beans and lentils to your stews and soups to increase the nutrient content. Lentils and beans offer a great source of protein, as well as fibre and minerals such as zinc and magnesium.
  • Cook batches of food and freeze meals. This will allow you to make what you need and freeze the rest for later, putting your mind at rest that you will have healthy meals available.
  • Freeze your vegetables. With the surge in stockpiling, ensure your fresh vegetables stay that way by chopping them up and storing them in the freezer so you can easily add them to each meal. This way they will last much longer and you will have a guaranteed way of maintaining a good daily intake of those all-important micronutrients.


As the world appears to be coming to a halt, we need to make the most of this time to stop and breathe, and reflect. Amidst all of the panic, the lifestyle tips below will be sure to help keep you calm and your spirits high:

  • Put sleep top of your list! To help  our body to repair and function optimally, we need  between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. There is a lot of evidence that shows  that people who have regular disturbed sleep are three times more likely to develop an infection, such as the common cold when exposed to the Rhinovirus, compared with those who had 8 hours sleep per night or more.Furthermore, regulating our natural circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) is important when it comes to immune health. That means going to bed when our melatonin (our sleepy hormone) is released (after sunset) and sticking to a set bedtime. Research shows that melatonin has an anti-inflammatory action and exhibits an immuno-modulatory effect, specifically in flu-induced pneumonia. Reduce exposure to blue light from devices, such as phones, T.V. and computers in the evening, as these greatly reduce melatonin production which can then significantly affect sleep quality.
  • Practice deep breathing. The breath directly impacts our sympathetic nervous system response (our ‘fight or flight’ instinct) and can help to calm our nervous system  , while helping it to combat inflammation and strengthen lung function.The Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques (ACBT) is used by physiotherapists to support respiratory conditions, which gives a step by step method to clear the lungs and chest. Alternatively, try this simple breathing exercise as follows:

Empty your lungs of air
Inhale through the nose for 4 counts
Hold for 4 counts
Exhale through the mouth for 4 counts
Repeat until you feel more relaxed

  • Get Active Working from home can mean we might be at risk of not getting enough fresh air or exercise, which is hugely important for our overall health and wellbeing. Ensure to take a walk daily or a morning stretch to improve your mental health and get your body moving. For those working from home, you can fit in a lunch-time stretch session, or even 5 minute stretches  or jumping jacks!
  • Get outdoorsAt the weekends or during the day if you are unable to go to work at this time, get outdoors and explore new places. Being outdoors in the fresh air with nature is known to help improve moods and in turn strengthen immune boosting dopamine levels in the body. Getting outside is also an excellent way to improve your vitamin D status too, which will then further strengthen your immune system.
  • Reduce stress. There is no doubt that this is a stressful time, so now more than ever we need to prioritise our daily self-care and relaxation. Stress can dampen the immune response and increase inflammation, which can make us more susceptible to infection.Therefore, use this time to explore meditation, yoga, and daily journaling, read some books you have been meaning to read. Have phone downtime and play family games or  connect with family. Play more music which is known to improve moods and reduce stress. These are all ways to help you stay positive in a worrying uncertain time.

If you are worried about the current coronavirus outbreak due to your current health status, you should  contact your GP for advice. However, if you have symptoms which are not related to any virus such as Irritable Bowel  Syndrome, suffer with migraines or eczema or any other chronic condition or digestive disorder and would like a phone consultation or are interested in a personalised immune boosting diet plan or supplement advice please get in touch by email , or phone us on  01527 758385 or get in touch via our website Meanwhile, if you would like personalised dietary, lifestyle, and supplement advice we can do this via skype, in person or via email .

Good Health ,



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