Good sleep is key: Getting enough sleep is important in maintaining a good immune system. When you are sick, simply getting adequate rest and sleep will naturally help to boost your immunity.
Maintain a healthy diet: It is important to maintain a good healthy diet to keep your immune system in check. One can include whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes which are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that help fight against harmful pathogens. Healthy fats like those found in olive oils, salmon, etc have anti-inflammatory properties that help the body fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses. It is crucial to avoid added sugars as they increase obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart risks to name a few, thus affecting the immune system.
Exercise regularly: Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy turnover of immune cells. Exercising regularly helps in keeping the body and mind healthy.
Drink lots of water: Drinking water is crucial in keeping your body healthy. Dehydration can cause several problems like indigestion, headache, physical performance, kidney function issues, etc to name a few.
Manage your stress levels: Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health. Long-term stress promotes inflammation, as well as imbalances in immune cell function. Multiple methods can be adapted to lower stress levels, like yoga, meditation, dance, listening to soothing music to name a few.
Regular health checkups: It is important to invest time and money in regular health checkups. Health conditions like asthma, diabetes, cholesterol, health diseases, etc can affect the immune system and thereby increasing the chance of infections.
The current covid-19 pandemic has affected and changed lifestyles a lot. There is a big difference in prioritizing things now as it was before. There is a new normal lifestyle. With the COVID-19 pandemic, eating, living, working, and socializing patterns have completely changed. Even socio-economic stability has suffered a lot.
Food is an important aspect of life and a means of living. During the current situation, diet planning is an important question to most people about the suitable options to add to a routine diet and what foods should be given up. While planning a diet for yourself and your family, there are many things to keep in mind. Some aspects are elaborated for a more concise understanding.
Avoid Eating Outside
It is safe to eat at home and prepare meals by yourself. Going outside in public places increases the risk of getting in contact with the virus’s carriers and the virus itself. Restaurants and food places are among the most crowded places, and it is more likely for viruses to spread quickly in such places.
It is advisable to avoid visiting such public places and make sure to stay at home. Eat and drink with your family and prepare meals at home. Also, avoiding unhealthy food such as processed food is very important. Processed foods have less nutritional value and are made from synthetic ingredients.
Giving Up Alcohol
It is important to give up certain foods and beverages which are injurious to overall health and increases the risk of getting into serious disease and illnesses. Alcohol is one such beverage that negatively affects each organ of the body, especially during the current pandemic when there is no much physical exercise.
Alcohol abuse increases the risk factors and severity of disease and infection. It negatively influences immunity and the defense system of the body. It is important to look for ways to limit and abandon the use of alcohol. It might become troublesome for many people. People can get professional guidance to cope with addiction from numerous rehab centers.
Drink Enough Water Everyday
Drinking plenty of water is essential in keeping the body hydrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Water is essential to many processes and functions in the body. It is recommended to take 8-10 glasses of water a day. It is especially important during the current pandemic as water is an essential way to keep air passages moist and secure with sufficient amounts of mucus, which protects the membrane and lining of air passages.
It makes it difficult for viruses and germs to get access to the body through air passages in the nose and throat. Also, it is very helpful in regulating body temperature. Maintaining good hydration is essential for overall health and wellbeing. It is as important as taking a healthy and nutritious diet.
Antioxidants To Strengthen Immune System
Foods rich in antioxidants help the body against free radicals and reduce inflammation. Different nutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and B carotene help the body’s immune system in different ways and protect the body against infections and viruses. They also may help in building up your bodies natural immune system against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eat Nutritious And Well Balanced Diet
Nutrition and hydration are essential for a healthier body, and it boosts immunity. It also reduces the risk of getting serious and chronic diseases and infections. There are a number of healthy food options to add to a routine diet.
It is important to consider what food and food groups to add to diet on a routine basis as it has a lot to do with overall health, building immunity, and dealing with stress and anxiety of pandemic.
Citrus fruits are rich sources of Vitamin C, and they play an important role in the body as an immunity booster. Incorporating Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits in a routine diet can have numerous benefits.
Common examples of citrus fruits are lemon, orange, mandarin, and grapefruit.
Research shows that Vitamin C helps with shrinking the duration and severity of a cold. So it is beneficial to incorporate a Vitamin C-rich diet and food sources.
If you are looking into what to add to a routine diet during the current pandemic, then these spices are a must for a healthy diet. Ginger, Garlic, and turmeric are extremely beneficial for health and can easily be incorporated into the diet.
These spices are part of many food recipes. These spices have antiviral and antiseptic properties, which are extremely useful in boosting immunity against cold viruses and other viruses.
Zinc Rich Food
Zinc is an important mineral found in food and is required by the body for many functions. Foods rich in Zinc, such as seafood including shellfish, oysters and mussels, seeds, nuts, red meat, and egg yolk, must also be added to a routine diet.
Zinc is found in many medicines used to treat cold thus has properties to fight viruses. A zinc-rich diet must be added to the diet as it boosts immunity against viruses and reduces inflammation.
Magnesium Rich Food
Magnesium is an important mineral found in many foods such as green vegetables, dark chocolate, Tofu, bananas, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Foods rich in magnesium are very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.
With sufficient magnesium intake, a person may feel calmer, and it also supports immunity. Recent research supports the role of magnesium in reducing the severity of the COVID-19 virus.
Fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 reduces stress and anxiety. Also, it has countless health benefits; it is also effective against the common cold and flu. It also boosts immunity against viruses and should be incorporated into routine diets.
COVID-19 pandemic has brought in an elevated concern about diet and healthy diet options. It is important to avoid eating outside and making sure to prepare and take meals at home. Incorporating foods rich in various nutrients can help to boost immunity. Many foods with anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiseptic properties are available. These foods also reduce the risk factor of diseases and infections. A body with stronger immunity can cope with viruses better.
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), or stage 4 breast cancer, is cancer that starts in the breasts and spreads to other parts of the body.
Cancer metastasizes, or spreads, when it invades nearby healthy cells, or when the lymph system carries cancerous cells to other parts of the body.
Researchers estimate that about 5 percent of people who receive a breast cancer diagnosis will receive an initial diagnosis of MBC.
Not only can breast cancer cause emotional and mental stress, but it can also lead to financial stress. Here’s how to manage this aspect of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Treatment for MBC can include:
Your oncologist may also recommend targeted drug therapy or immunotherapy. The goal is to strengthen your immune system so your body can fight the cancer, as well as shrink or destroy cancerous cells.
An MBC diagnosis affects people differently, and some are more likely than others to feel a financial strain.
One cause of financial stress is lack of health insurance.
According to a 2018 national survey of more than 1,513 women with MBC, approximately 35 percent didn’t have health insurance. Of those, 70 percent felt concerned about the financial impact of cancer.
Some people with MBC receive treatment for life. This can make the financial cost of stage 4 breast cancer higher than that of stage 1 breast cancer. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in financial stress.
The exact cost of treatment varies. But the monthly cost of treating MBC is about $4,463, compared with only $2,418 for treating stage 1 breast cancer, according to research from 2020.
Common concerns of women who don’t have health insurance include:
an inability to pay their medical bills
loss of income from not working
the fear of collection agencies contacting them
But having health insurance doesn’t necessarily ease financial concerns.
The 2018 national survey found that even people with health insurance experienced financial stress after an MBC diagnosis. In fact, they were more likely to feel stressed about finances.
For some of these women, financial stress was due to concerns over out-of-pocket expenses for treatments.
Even though health insurance covers many cancer-related treatments, most people are still responsible for health insurance deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
The possibility of being unable to work during cancer treatments only adds to the stress. For people of higher socioeconomic status, an inability to work coupled with high medical costs often triggers worries about losing assets, too.
Stress is a natural response. Stressful situations trigger a fight-or-flight reaction, where your body releases adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones to help you respond to possible threats.
While short-term, or acute, stress isn’t usually harmful, chronic stress means your body’s stress response doesn’t shut off.
This can lead to too much cortisol and adrenaline, which triggers an inflammatory state. And according to a research review from 2010, chronic inflammation may lead to tumor growth and cause cancer to spread.
Too many stress hormones can also inhibit anoikis, a process that signals the death of cells. It occurs when normal cells migrate to a place they don’t belong. When stress hormones prevent this process from happening, this can lead to uncontrolled cancer growth and spread.
It’s important to learn healthy ways to manage your stress. Here’s a look at several ways to help relieve stress after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Light to moderate exercise may improve sleep, increase your energy, and relieve stress. You can practice indoors or go for a walk outdoors to get fresh air.
Exercise releases hormones such as endorphins and dopamine. These are feel-good hormones that can improve your mental outlook.
Taking care of your body and mind can also relieve stress. Spend more time focusing on yourself and take part in hobbies you enjoy or other relaxing activities.
In addition, you can practice mindfulness techniques. Listen to calm music, meditate, or practice deep breathing exercises.
Know your limitations
If you’re not feeling well, it’s OK to say no. Overbooking yourself or taking on too many tasks can be overwhelming and increase stress.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can also worsen stress. Aim for at least 7 hours or more of sleep each night.
To improve sleep quality, limit daytime naps, avoid heavy meals and liquids close to bedtime, and make your room as comfortable as possible. It’s best to keep it cool, dark, and quiet.
Don’t isolate yourself
Spending time with close family and friends can take your mind off your worries. Plus, it often helps to talk with someone and share your experience. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with a friend or family member, join a support group, whether in-person or online.
If you’re unable to cope with the emotional, mental, physical, or financial stress of MBC, talk with your doctor.
Resources are available to help you cope with stress.
Your doctor may recommend talk therapy, support groups, or cognitive behavioral therapy. They may also be able to provide information on resources to help you manage the costs of cancer care.
A diagnosis of MBC can have a huge financial impact. Whether you’re lacking insurance or facing expensive out-of-pocket costs even with insurance, you may worry about the long-term effects of MBC on your finances.
Learning how to manage financial stress is key to coping with your diagnosis, so take steps to reduce your stress levels. And if necessary, speak with your doctor for help.
As with many illnesses, good nutrition plays an important role to speed recovery from COVID-19. Smart food choices help to provide the proper anti-inflammatory nutrients needed to support essential bodily processes, improve immunity, and protect against loss of energy and diminished muscular strength.
Both macro- and micronutrients are key drivers for a healthy immune response, particularly for higher-risk populations.
Even for those who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19, poor nutrition can compromise immune function and increase the risk of becoming infected. Here is a look at how important it is to educate home-based care providers on nutritional support principles, along with the top tips needed to make sure patients with COVID-19 stay as healthy and strong as possible, as outlined by Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, Lisa Logan of McKesson Medical-Surgical.
Fluids: 2-3 liters per day
It is critical that patients stay hydrated, Logan says. Fluid requirements must be individualized based on a range of factors, including body weight, age, gender, medical conditions and body temperature. According to American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, patients should drink water or clear liquids every hour. Ideally, they should consume at least two to four ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. If the patient has gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting or diarrhea, then he or she must consume oral hydration solutions along with water.
“The important thing is to monitor seniors for signs of dehydration,” Logan says. Signs of dehydration can include increased thirst, fever, dizziness, lightheadedness, decreased urine output, dark colored urine color and an increased heart rate.
Logan has four sample recommendations for caregivers:
– Keep liquids visibly available for patients, including at the bedside
– Offer a variety of liquids to avoid taste fatigue
– Remember to include foods with a high fluid content, such as melons, soups and stews
– Select the appropriate liquid supplement as recommended by a registered dietitian who understands the patient’s medical conditions
“The type of liquid you drink will depend on the situation,” Logan says. “Water or clear liquid drinks with electrolytes are fine. But there are many patients who are malnourished and would benefit from a high-calorie, high-protein supplement if they have a diagnosis of malnutrition. The drink selected should be based upon a clinical evaluation and assessment.”
Calories: 1,500 to 2,000 calories daily — normal maintenance
Due to increased stress from COVID-19, an individual often needs an additional 400 to 500 calories each day, over their normal dietary requirements. In some cases, home-based care providers should aim for patients to consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. Utilizing the expertise of a dietitian can help formulate a diet plan with high calorie and high protein supplements, so that patients can achieve their nutritional goals.
Along with the calorie count, seniors must focus on an anti-inflammatory diet.
“COVID is an inflammatory process and improper dietary choices can adversely impact the immune system,” Logan says. “Therefore, consuming an anti-inflammatory diet is essential. You want more of a plant-based diet, eliminating refined foods, sugar, saturated fats and processed meat. The food that you give your loved one, or a patient, should be healthy.”
Protein: 75 to 100 grams per day
One major focus for caregivers helping patients with COVID-19 is addressing malnutrition.
“Malnutrition is a risk factor causing many issues relating to functional and physiologic decline, along with organ dysfunction that leads to increased rates of morbidity and mortality,” Logan says. “There is emerging evidence that one’s nutritional status clearly impacts immunity. If your immune system is not up to par, you can’t fight off infection. It is important to identify malnutrition early on so that nutrition support can be implemented immediately to improve health and quality of life.”
To avoid malnutrition, caregivers should use a reliable malnutrition screening tool, one that provides a score to address the severity of malnutrition. The MNA (Mini Nutrition Assessment) by Nestlé Nutrition Institute is an example of a tool that clinicians can use. It addresses key factors such as recent weight loss, appetite and body mass index to help determine the degree of nutritional impairments.
The caregiver must also encourage a diet that is adequate in protein, which is required to maintain muscle mass. Most patients require at least one gram of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight, which can total 75 to 100 grams of protein per day.
While requirements will vary with conditions such as kidney and liver disease, some standard protein sources include:
– Peanut or nut butters
– Dairy (milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese)
– Meat (fish, poultry)
– Protein shakes
However, one should consider getting dietary protein from plant- based alternatives like soy products (tofu, tempeh, and edamame), lentils, chickpeas, almonds and Quinoa.
Supplements for immunity boost
Along with promoting protein and high calorie diets, liquid supplements taken between meals can provide an extra immunity boost and maintain the flow of nutrients into the body. Logan cites the work of Dr. Gina Serraiocco, who recommends a variety of supplements that can help the immune function, so it is more equipped to fight inflammation.
“Patients who are vitamin D-deficient have a higher chance of getting COVID,” Logan says.
She adds that zinc, vitamin C, melatonin, turmeric and Omega-3 fatty acids can all serve as anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive agents. For many of these recommendations, Logan credits Dr. Serraiocco, an integrative and functional medicine physician at Sutter’s Palo Alto Medical Center, whose research is industry-leading in this area. Dr. Serraiocco has made it her focus to educate patients and health care workers on the best life-style approaches and supplements needed to help during this horrible pandemic.
This article is sponsored by McKesson Medical-Surgical, which works with health systems, physician offices, extended care providers, in-home patients, labs, payers and others across the spectrum of care to build healthier organizations that deliver better care to patients in every setting. For more information, visit mms.mckesson.com.
Cold and flu season is now upon us. That compounded with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means it’s time to focus on our immune systems.
Immune systems are pretty effective against many germs and viruses, but it takes time to fight them. And this year has added stress for many due to the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. “So, anything you can do to mitigate that stress by simple measures is going to be very helpful,” says Josh Knox, a physician assistant by training and a clinical associate professor at Marquette University’s physician assistant program.
Knox shares some tips to help strengthen your immune system this cold and flu season:
Our bodies need sleep for our immune systems to work properly. “At night, besides your tired aching bones and muscles, your immune system is rebuilding while you’re sleeping,” Knox explains.
Our bodies also produce and release signaling proteins called cytokines that orchestrate our immune system while we sleep. T-cells are also produced at night, and Kox says “there’s also some evidence that those T-cells stick to their targets a little better when we get adequate sleep.”
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep seven to nine hours a night to stay healthy. While not enough research has been conducted related to COVID-19, other research has shown that people sleeping six hours or less were more than four times more likely to catch other cold viruses.
People getting the recommended 150-300 minutes of moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise and two weight-like training sessions during the week helps antibody formations. Exercise also helps the body’s B-cells that make antibodies, according to Knox.
“Normally, our white blood cells or those T-cells are kind of hanging out on the edge of our blood system, and exercise actually shocks them into activity and it turns them over more efficiently,” he explains.
Studies have also shown that people who exercise regularly are less susceptible to cold and flu-like viruses, and have reduced upper respiratory infections with shorter periods of being sick. “There is one study that shows that those individuals who are regularly exercising potentially can prevent or at least reduce the severity of severe reactions to COVID-19,” says Knox.
While there are plenty of vitamins to choose from over the counter, “there’s probably only one supplement that has enough data to say something intelligent about it at this time — and that is vitamin D,” says Knox.
Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphate to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Knox notes that the best way to get it is through sunshine and healthy meals, but taking supplements can help your immune function as well.
“There is reams of data from other viruses and other upper respiratory infections that suggest that individuals are less susceptible to cold viruses and upper respiratory viruses when they have adequate vitamin D,” says Knox.
When it comes to the coronavirus, a study has shown that people will have a less severe case and have a lower risk of death when they have enough vitamin D, according to Knox.
Get the flu shot
In addition to getting good sleep, exercising, and getting enough vitamin D, Knox says that getting the flu shot this year “is more important than ever.”
He notes that people could be weakened by getting the flu and become more susceptible to COVID-19 or need to be hospitalized with the flu and risk further exposure to the coronavirus.
“The flu vaccine does not cause the flu,” states Knox. “Very few people have adverse reactions to it, beyond very mild ones, and I think it’s essential for everybody to get it this year.”
According to an April report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the FDA has issued 34 warning letters to groups peddling unproven treatments for COVID-19. And more than half those products claimed immune-boosting or antiviral properties.
This idea of boosting your immune system is appealing for obvious reasons, but the truth is there’s no proof that anything (besides vaccination) actually enhances immune response.
While there’s no magic immune-strengthening potion, we do know that balanced lifestyle habits are associated with proper immune system function. And the good news for you (not so much for the scammers) is that these habits are quite cheap — if not free — to put into action.
We know this is easier said than done, but we put it first for a reason. When you don’t get enough sleep, you have a higher chance of getting sick. And if you do get sick, it’ll probably take you longer to recover.
“Less sleep deprives our immune system of energy, as it is used elsewhere to cope with the health changes related to less sleep,” says Joanne Turner, PhD, vice president for research and a professor at Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
Research suggests that getting enough sleep can also increase the effectiveness of vaccines, lower your risk of infection, and reduce inflammation.
Tips for getting better sleep
You’ll notice we didn’t say “eliminate stress,” because that’s pretty much impossible — and some stress can actually be a positive thing. But too much stress is bad news for your immune system.
While fleeting periods of stress can temporarily decrease the production of immunity cells, chronic stress — lasting months or years — has been shown to have “persistent and severe” consequences for the immune system.
“Excessive stress switches on a lot of hormones,” says Turner. “These hormones can directly or indirectly turn off immune cell function. Chronic stress (ongoing daily stressors) can also lead to chronic low level inflammation that we know reduces how our immune system works.”
Tips for de-stressing
Get some oxytocin, platonically or otherwise. A 2015 study found frequent hugs are an antidote to stress and may help protect against infection.
Take regular baths. A small 2018 study found that regular bathing was linked to more positive moods than regular showering.
Find a creative outlet. In a small 2007 study, people with cancer and depression felt their mood improve after doing weekly art therapy sessions.
The science supporting supplements for immune function is less robust than many supplement companies would have you believe. But vitamin D appears to be beneficial to the immune system.
If you have a dark complexion, don’t spend much time in direct sunlight, and don’t regularly eat dairy or fatty fish, you’re at an even higher risk of having a vitamin d deficiency.
Word to the wise: Get your vitamin D from food and supplements, not from the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, and up to 90 percent of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face are the two very best ways you can help your immune system defend you against dangerous pathogens, including COVID-19 (until we get a vaccine, at least).
According to Christopher Lupfer, PhD, an immunologist and assistant professor of biology at Missouri State University, people often get lazy with hygiene because they think living a healthy lifestyle will be enough to protect them.
“Just because you take [vitamins] does not mean you will not get sick,” he says.
While there’s no COVID-19 vaccine at the time of this writing, once one is developed, getting vaccinated will be the single most important way to support your immune system.
And while we’re all understandably fixated on COVID-19 right now, it’s still important to stay up on all your immunizations. This will not only decrease your likelihood of going to the hospital (where there’s a higher chance of being exposed to the virus) but also decrease your immune system’s overall workload.
As Shayla Love, a senior health reporter at Vice, points out, the popular understanding of the immune system as a militant killing machine that needs “boosting” and “strengthening” is misguided. In fact, an overactive immune response may actually kill you (as it sometimes does in the case of allergic reactions).
The immune system’s ability to be passive and discerning is just as important as its ability to spring into action.
“Our immune system doesn’t attack our food, water, or many particles that are in the air we breathe,” says Turner. “[It’s] educated to ignore things that aren’t dangerous.”
Which is to say, we’re better off conceptualizing the immune system as a web of intricate processes — not unlike a symphony — that depends on balance and harmony to function. We can’t support this complex system by taking one magic pill. Instead, we must give care to our bodies on multiple fronts.
Ginger Wojcik is an assistant editor at Greatist. Follow more of her work on Medium or on Twitter.
EVARISTO SARIO DE JANEIRO—In a bombshell decision that could reshape Brazil’s political future, a Supreme Court judge has scrapped the corruption convictions against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, granting him the freedom to challenge far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro in next year’s elections.A presidential bid by Lula could spell disaster for Bolsonaro, who styled himself as an anti-establishment alternative to the leftist leader during the 2018 presidential campaign.“Lula is the worst opponent that Bolsonaro could possibly face,” Talita Tanscheit, a political scientist and professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told The Daily Beast. “This is not good news for him.”While the ruling does not mean Lula won’t face charges again in a different court, it does grant him the right to stand in elections again.Lula presided over a historic golden era of economic growth in Brazil, fuelled by an almost decade-long commodity boom. During his two terms in office between 2003 and 2011, millions of Brazilians climbed out of poverty, thanks to social policies introduced by Lula’s leftist Workers’ Party, known as PT.The wildly popular politician, who is now 75, was poised to seek a third term in 2018, but his candidacy was derailed when he was jailed on disputed corruption charges. As scandal ensnared Lula and the PT, growing disillusionment with the left paved the way for Bolsonaro’s overwhelming victory.Since then, Brazil’s far-reaching corruption investigation—known as Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash—has unravelled amid allegations of foul play, dampening the anti-leftist wave that lifted Bolsonaro to power. “Each day, it becomes more evident that Lava Jato was just a collective delusion,” Tanscheit said. “The operation was discredited. And this helps Lula.”Lula became a deeply polarizing figure thanks to the anti-corruption probe that implicated scores in Brazil’s political and business elite. Yet Lula has now gained back the sympathy of many Brazilians, Sérgio Praça, a political scientist and commentator, told The Daily Beast“There’s a sense that Lula was wronged by Lava Jato and that he deserves another chance,” Praça said, noting that a presidential run by Lula was “probable.”“What we don’t know right now is the extent of this sentiment. We don’t know if it’s enough to get him over the line on election day,” he added.Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s own image has taken a series of blows. Brazil has suffered one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, and Bolsonaro has responded by repeatedly downplaying the need for lockdowns and vaccinations. The virus has so far infected 11 million people in Brazil and claimed the lives of some 265,000.“The scenario worsens every day for Bolsonaro.” Praça said. “I think it will be difficult for him to escape punishment at the polls for his incompetence during the pandemic.”Soaring unemployment and a sputtering economy have also alienated supporters who were drawn to Bolsonaro’s promise for a new economic era. A generous emergency cash voucher for those hit by the pandemic briefly lifted his popularity last year, but a recent cut to the aid has angered many Brazilians, dwindling his approval ratings to just 30 percent.Despite weakened support, Bolsonaro was on steady political ground due to a sheer lack of opposition, said Eduardo Grin, a researcher at the socioeconomic think-tank Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo. Battered by scandal, the left has struggled to reinvent itself and put forward a fresh face with appeal rivalling Lula’s. With a fragmented political landscape, there were also few centrist contenders popular enough to challenge Bolsonaro at the polls in 2022.“Until now, Bolsonaro had not confronted any strong political adversaries,” Grin told The Daily Beast. “Lula’s political record is really strong. And Bolsonaro didn’t expect to have to confront this.”For now, opinion polls signal that Lula might have an edge over Bolsonaro. A recent poll showed that half of Brazilians would vote for the leftist ex-president in the next elections, while 38 percent said they would cast a ballot for Bolsonaro. Some 44 percent rejected Lula, while 56 percent said they would never vote for Bolsonaro.But the Trump-styled, populist Bolsonaro still enjoys fervent support among a core base of supporters who identify with his conservative rhetoric, focus on crime, and “family values.” Now, a political standoff between Bolsonaro and Lula could further embolden this loyal base and boost support for the former army general.In any case, a political standoff between Lula and Bolsonaro—one on the left and the other on the extreme right—is likely to usher in an era of even deeper polarization among Brazilian voters, explained Grin.“These extreme camps will leave a void in the political centre,” he said. “So we will likely see a society that becomes more and more polarized.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
That’s why finding ways to connect with family and friends has taken on some urgency, the council’s experts say. If you enjoyed activities like book club or poker night pre-pandemic, try organizing them virtually. Even just calling a friend or loved one each night to chat can help: A University of Michigan study found that just 10 minutes of talking to another person can help boost memory and cognitive performance. Another way to reach out to others is to volunteer, whether it’s serving meals at a shelter (masked and socially distanced, of course) or making phone calls for your synagogue or church. Seniors who do so have lower rates of dementia, according to a study published in PLOS One.
“Our brain-health experts consistently stress that sleep truly is one of the most important things you can do for brain health,” says Lock. Yet even before the pandemic, less than half of adults over the age of 50 reported they were getting excellent or good quality sleep. Why that’s worrisome? It’s during sleep that your body breaks down the beta-amyloid plaques in your brain that can raise your risk of Alzheimer’s, points out Small. In order to make sure you get 7 to 8 hours of quality slumber, try setting an alarm that alerts you when it’s time to turn in. An hour or two beforehand, get off of electronics (blue light can interfere with your body’s circadian rhythms) and do something like reading or listening to a meditation app to help signal your brain it’s time to wind down.
Reading, crossword puzzles, even playing a solo card game — these are all cognitively stimulating activities that can help keep your brain active. Another option is to listen to music, which research shows protects your brain by reducing stress and boosting mood. You don’t need to waste time or money on brain training games either. Instead, focus on intellectually challenging activities that are interesting to you — painting, relearning a language, taking a course online. A 2018 JAMA study of people 65 and older found that those who regularly participated in all of these types of activities had a significantly lower risk of dementia over six years of follow-up.
People over the age of 65 have been significantly less likely to report feelings of depression and anxiety during the pandemic than younger individuals, which expert say may be due in part to the mental resiliency that develops with age. But the effects of long-term isolation can take a heavy psychological toll, which is why it’s imperative you spend time to nurture yourself: take up a new hobby or spend time in nature, and yes, take occasional breaks from news and social media. If you need to, seek professional help: “The silver lining of the pandemic is that it’s catapulted telepsychiatry to the forefront,” says Small, adding that research shows that during these times, remote therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face.
Pay attention to signs of confusion if you’re hospitalized
As many as half of people over the age of 65 experience delirium after being admitted to the hospital, according to the GCBH. This is especially common when they are hospitalized due to an infection with COVID-19. “This is a virus that invades the brain, and in addition to that you have an accelerated amount of blood clotting in COVID, which stops blood from getting to the brain cells,” explains Wes Ely, M.D., codirector of the Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship (CIBS) Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. People are also left isolated and immobilized in a hospital room, he notes, which can contribute to confusion.
If a loved one is hospitalized due to COVID-19, look for signs such as confusion, inability to pay attention, and disrupted sleep/wake cycles. If they are being prescribed benzodiazepines (which often happens in hospital settings to quell anxiety) request that they be taken off of them, as they can exacerbate symptoms, Ely says. Since sensory deprivation can worsen delirium, make sure family and other loved ones are nearby, to talk with and touch them, and to help keep them moving as much as possible. The good news is that delirium typically resolves on its own after a few days.
It’s easy to dismiss things like forgetfulness or confusion as resulting from the stress and isolation of the pandemic. But if you have any doubt, reach out to your doctor, since such cognitive symptoms can be caused by something as simple as a new medication or something as urgent as a stroke. Also watch out for any of the neurological symptoms of COVID-19, like loss of taste or smell, which can show up before other common symptoms such as cough or fever. The report provides a review of neurological symptoms identified so far that occur in adults. Importantly, a study has found that 37% of older adults coming to emergency with COVID-19 had signs of delirium, but no other common COVID-19 symptoms. The GCBH report also stresses the importance of maintaining health appointments to monitor and treat high blood pressure or type two diabetes, which can harm your brain health if left uncontrolled.
UMA Oils founder, Shrankhla Holecek has been immersed in the traditions of Ayurveda, a natural medicinal system that originates from India dating back over 5000 years, since she was a child. She was raised in India where her ancestors were Ayurvedic doctors for the Indian Royal family and for centuries have organically grown and crafted the world’s finest botanical oils on their farms in Central India.
“The word Ayurveda means ‘science of life,’ and really, that’s what it is,” explains Holecek. “It offers incredibly practical and intuitive advice about diet, exercise, and general lifestyle to help you thrive and be the best you can be. It encompasses not only science, but also philosophy, whereby the whole of life’s journey is considered sacred. Ayurveda draws on a system of scientific and practical knowledge, which is rooted in the ancient belief systems about the constitution of the human body and its close relationship with the environment within which it exists.”
Five years prior to launching her luxury beauty and wellness brand, UMA Oils, known for its luxurious, small-batch products, Holecek was a consultant at McKinsey. When I inquire why she left her corporate position to launch her own company she tells me it wasn’t an easy decision. “Part of me feels like I always knew that this was something I was meant to do. Yet, the other part of me was also so content to be a consultant, work with the amazing people I did, and on some incredibly challenging problems.”
“Having come from such ‘earthy roots’ in India, I think I craved the tangibility of product, and product-driven businesses,” continues Holecek. “More importantly, I think there was an element of ‘the universe conspiring’ as the chatter about organic, cleaning, wholesome living—arguably the very core values of Ayurveda—was getting louder around me every day. I really felt that with UMA, we could create something of value that would touch many lives positively and also become a conduit to understand Ayurveda, which can really transform health, wellness, and beauty so profoundly.” Holecek made Uma Oils a full-time commitment in 2016 when she formally launched the brand.
As soon as get your hands on the brand’s products and experience its contents, you know love is the key ingredient. I attribute this in part to the fact that raw ingredients come from Holecek’s organic family farms where each ingredient is tenderly cared for. Holecek tells me, “Reputation and word of mouth are incredibly important and we were fortunate to receive international accolades from those in the know (like celebrated perfumers) early on especially for oils like jasmine, vetiver, sandalwood, which are specialties of the Indian subcontinent. Over the last few decades, we’ve supplied some of the biggest names in perfumery and beauty with individual ingredients.”
Her family farms grow about 500-acres of essential oil ingredients, which can range from flowers, roots, grasses, and trees with roughly 100 of those acres dedicated for use in UMA products. “A lot of our farms have been in our family for centuries, though there are other lands we’ve started to farm more recently as we consolidate our operations geographically to allow for efficiency and lower our transportation footprint.”
A team of dedicated caretakers selects only the finest seeds, then they nurse the plants through the growing season. “While many crop growers harvest the same plant multiple times to produce as much oil as possible, at Uma we harvest each plant no more than two times before replanting, because we have learned that the first two harvests generate the highest quality essential oils, and that their potency declines after the second harvest,” explains Holecek. “This results in a lower yield, but far superior oils. Once the plants move from the meadow to the factory they are greeted by a team of skilled technicians and extractors, who shepherd the plants through the distillation process. The factory itself is uniquely self-sustaining and environment-friendly, with its innovative machinery that converts waste product back into reusable fuel. This allows us to operate with minimal dependence on outside energy resources, while leaving behind the smallest of footprints.”
Sustainability is at the core of UMA Oils. “Ayurveda philosophies dictate all the practices within UMA’s product lifecycle, from our farming methods to the actual formulas in our products,” states Holecek. “According to Ayurveda, a close relationship exists between human and the universe we exist in of which nature is a key part, and has long been held in a place of reverence. Ayurveda dictates that we give back in equal part what we take from the environment, a mantra we closely follow.”
Holecek continues, “It’s always important to consider the communities that are just as important to sustain when thinking about environmental sustenance. Especially since empowering communities to have an environmentally sustainable outlook leads to real impact. UMA has a long history of providing safe and dignified employment for women, and takes great pride in the fact that local women make up over 50% of its workforce. From its inception and as a pioneer for its time, UMA has provided men and women equal pay for equal work. In a country that where gender discrimination is sadly too often the norm, UMA’s progressive stance on gender equality sends a powerful, positive message that past injustice will be tolerated no more.
Self-love is arguably the most important tenet of Ayurveda. “It empowers you to not only garner a deeper understanding of your uniqueness and what a powerful gift individuality is, but also to strengthen that natural intuition whereby listening to your body – truly listening - can help you become the healthiest, most vital and balanced version of yourself that you can be,” explains Holecek. “Traditional ways of showing self-love can range from self massages to even respecting the body’s needs—like going to sleep when it tells you to, eating nourishing foods, and practicing emotionally/ spiritually healthy habits. I really believe that a majority of the answers we seek are within us already. We just need to learn to listen to ourselves again.”
With the ongoing pandemic and recent studies validating many of Ayurveda’s practices supporting immunity, I thought it would be interesting to tap into Holecek for some helpful tips that anyone at home can do to boost their immune system health. Since UMA Oils formulations used in the below practices are based on ancient formulations once only used for royalty, we can now all experience the royal treatment in the comfort of our homes.
One of the most powerful elements of dry brushing is its ability to stimulate the lymphatic system. In short, the lymphatic system acts as an important fluid guard against illness and disease, helping protect the body against foreign elements, toxins, or other impurities. As the firm, stimulating motions of dry brushing boost oxygen and blood flow, the flow and drainage of lymph is also boosted, allowing for healthy circulation and the necessary expulsion of toxins. In addition to the general promotion of good health and the expulsion of toxins, a stimulated and active lymphatic system has also been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation.
In Ayurveda, the mouth is viewed as a telling reflection of the body’s health. Since the mouth is a site that harbors bacteria, toxins, and other impurities, our oral hygiene is closely linked to our overall health. As various studies demonstrate, the practice of oil pulling generates antioxidants that pull the lipid layers of bacterial cell membranes into the oil and block bacterial growth and plaque formation. As a result, the toxins and impurities in our mouths—or ama—can be removed from the body once the oil is spit out. In Ayurvedic tradition, oil pulling is carried out in the morning before brushing the teeth.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve also dutifully scraped my tongue alongside brushing my teeth. In Ayurvedic tradition, tongue scraping is an extremely simple practice that has a major impact on our health: it removes the impurities on the tongue that might otherwise compound into more serious health problems. As we sleep, a combination of food, bacteria, fungi, and other toxins accumulate on our tongues. Without proper care, these impurities—or ama—can be reabsorbed into the body, leading to problems as varying as digestive issues, acne, or bad breath. Through tongue scraping, the negative effects of accumulation can be countered and prevented—as one study shows, this Ayurvedic practice improves bad breath and eliminates harmful coatings on the tongue.
Triphala is an ancient blend of bibhitaki, amalaki, and haritaki, three organic fruits native to India known for its balancing, cleansing, and nourishing properties. Triphala is a multi-purpose herbal remedy used for various ailments including digestive issues. Research shows that it may help to support internal cleansing, healthy regular bowel movements, and tissue nourishment. Some experts suggest it offers adaptogenic benefits. Triphala is also looked to as a general Ayurvedic rasayana to support bodily functions and promote overall vitality, longevity, and good health. It is found in our Digestive Detox Triphala Herbal Supplement.
In Ayurveda, hot or warm water is preferred over ice-cold water because it is believed to hydrate our bodies and tissue more. Warm or hot water helps flush out toxins (or excess ama) and aids in hydration of the organs and assisting with lymphatic drainage. Drinking freshly boiled water, especially with the addition of lemon, first thing in the morning and before mealtime helps to stimulate healthy digestion and soften hardened foods. Cold water has been shown to hinder this process.
Boosting your immune system is a great way to safeguard your health and well-being. By looking for ways to improve your health, you are more likely to prevent illnesses, ailments and disease, and hopefully live a longer and more fulfilling life. But how can you boost your immune system, exactly? Thankfully, there are many proven ways to do just that. And by doing so, you can live more comfortably and reduce the likelihood of falling ill. Read on for tips on how you can boost your immune system and improve your well-being.
1. Get Enough Sleep
A good night’s sleep can work wonders when it comes to boosting your immune system, yet too many of us have broken sleep patterns that can hinder our health and workplace performance. Improve your sleep schedule by creating a bedroom that is designed to help you get a good night’s sleep. You can do this by: investing in a comfortable mattress that is created to help you rest well; reducing the amount of light filtering into the room; and getting rid of any distractions such as laptops and TVs. If you are unsure on the best mattresses on the market, here’s a good list that explains the wonderful benefits of a hybrid mattress and how it could make you sleep much better.
2. Eat Immune Boosting Foods
Food is powerful when it comes to protecting your body and helping to stay healthy. But many of us have poor diets or do not eat enough of the health-inducing foods that can improve our moods as well as act as a first line of defense to any illnesses and ailments.
With an overwhelming number of foods on the market, however, you may want to research the benefits of the most popular superfoods and see how you can include them into your diet. Citrus fruits are ideal for helping you get your intake of vitamin C and can help reduce the likelihood of you developing a cold. Citrus fruits are also thought to help your body fight infections. Other foods you should add to your diet include:
Red bell peppers (for vitamin C and a rich source of beta carotene)
Yogurt (active cultures that help boost your immune system and a great source of vitamin D)
Green tea (full of antioxidants)
Kiwis (full of potassium, vitamin K and vitamin C)
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is not only a means of looking great and regulating your weight; it is also a way to keep you feeling energized and able to fight off any infections that may be trying to attack your body. However, remember that while exercising is a great way to boost your immune system, exercising too much can also suppress it. Therefore, you may wish to speak to an expert and have them help you curate an exercise plan so that you can avoid burnout while gaining the benefits of working out.
4. Reduce Your Intake of Junk Food
Junk food may taste good to you, but it is also filled with saturated fats and sugars that can harm your immune system as well as impact your mental health. It is known that junk food can reduce your concentration and also cause you to put on weight, but it can also increase your chances of getting sick. This is because a reduction in sugar intake can help decrease inflammation and also reduce your risks of developing a chronic health condition such as type 2 diabetes.
There are various ways to boost your immune system; however, the most effective means of doing so is ensuring that you are sleeping enough, eating well and exercising the right amount. If you need help in eating the right types of food, speak to your doctor. They will be more than happy to create a diet plan that can help boost your immune system.