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COVID-19: Take Control

COVID Shopping

I don’t know about you, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) has left me feeling out of control. When you are a type “a” planner, having so many unknowns can be overwhelming. Then add on top of that being a mother to two teenagers and navigating those emotional waters, it has been enough to make me want to crawl back in bed.

But we can’t crawl into bed and pretend this new reality doesn’t exist. So what do you do?

Take Control

No, you can’t control everything, but there is a lot we can do to control our risks of getting the coronavirus and also how severe it is. You know about hand washing, wearing a face mask, and social distancing. However, what are you doing for your health?

At the end of April, The New York Times had a fantastic article, “How Poor Diet Contributes to Coronavirus Risk.” The bottom line is that poor underlying health issues, like hypertension, higher blood sugar, and high cholesterol, can all suppress the immune system. As a result, you may be more susceptible to getting ailments, cancers, and possibly an even more severe form of this virus. These conditions, and others, can contribute to underlying levels of inflammation. The coronavirus attacks by increasing the body’s inflammatory response. If you are already somewhat inflamed, your ability to fight off the virus becomes even more challenging.

Coronavirus Risk: Diet & Lifestyle Changes Can Help

The good news is there is A LOT that can be done with diet and lifestyle to help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. To address these elements, I’ve put together a three-part series, with each video only being about 10-12 minutes. Here is the first in that series which highlights COVID-19 health tips to boost immunity.

And if you are looking for ways to kickstart healthier eating for your immune system, look no further! Click here to access a 7-day immune-boosting meal plan. Looking for something more? Then consider signing up for my 30-Day Recharge & Reset Program here.

 

Please note the tips in this video do not constitute medical advice and are not a guarantee of protection against COVID-19.

So Long Sleep

Have you said “so long” to sleep?

Do you find yourself exhausted and running on fumes throughout the day?

Does your day begin with a cup of coffee and then as 3 pm hits, you need another pick me up?

If, so I have a treat for you! Read on for some tips and a fantastic recipe.

The science of sleep is continuing to evolve; it is fascinating, complicated, and growing.

Sleep is a necessary body function which is often taken for granted. It is more than just waking up feeling rested. The research on sleep is growing, and we are just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and the factors that can impact it.

Lack of sleep can influence just about everything in your body… AND mind. Lower levels of sleep can lead to alterations in mood and a higher risk of diabetes, some cancers, hypertension, and heart disease. Low levels of sleep also impact the hormones which control hunger, determine satiety, and regulate blood sugar—and not in a good way. This can contribute to metabolism alternations and weight gain.

Sorry to say that isn’t the whole picture…

Having too little sleep also changes a person’s ability to learn and think. Alertness is also affected, which results in small lapses, which are believed to be microsleeps of only a few seconds. Have you ever been so tired you spaced out, and something had to “snap” you back into the present? If so, you were probably experiencing a microsleep. In fact, a study has shown that 17-19 hours without sleep resulted in alterations in performance similar to those with having a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent or more. To put this level in perspective, most states set their DUI levels at 0.08 percent.

Memories made are consolidated when we sleep. If you aren’t sleeping or sleeping well, your memory is also impacted. So, if you are cramming for a final or some big presentation, pulling an all-nighter is probably not helping you!

Your immune system also needs sleep to operate well. Sleep enables your immune system to concentrate itself to address the next threat to your body. Without it, this immune fighter system is compromised, and it can lead to other issues in the body, including increased inflammation.

And if you still think you can get by without sleep since you are eating well and exercising, you may want to think again. You should probably know that a lack of sleep may also negate those health benefits of your exercise program.

Say what??? What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

There are three main objectives of sleep:

  • To restore our body and mind.  Our bodies repair, grow, and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity.”
  • To conserve some energy, so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

What are your sleep needs?

Depending on your age, your sleep needs change. While infants need up to 17 hours a day, growing kids may require up to 15 hours a day. Even teenagers need up to 10 hours a day, and adults need 7-9 hours a night.

Think about it, are you getting enough?

If not, don’t worry, I have you covered! Take a look at the tips below.

Tips for better sleep

  1. Develop A Consistent Body Clock: Set consistent rising and bedtimes. This might mean turning off your lights 8-9 hours prior to when you know your alarm will go off, or for some of you when your alarm will go off the first time! As hard as this is, it should be done. Seven. Days. A. Week.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Yes. Your body is talking to you. If you feel tired and feel you need to go to bed at a slightly different, earlier time or sleep a little later go ahead and sleep!
  3. Balance Blood Sugar: This means eating less refined and processed foods and more whole foods which have blood-sugar-balancing fiber. Make sure you are getting some protein when you eat as well.  Also, try and avoid stress-inducing activities- this might even include stressful discussions or watching an intense movie.
  4. Avoid stimulants: This means that afternoon coffee or caffeine push at 3pm is a no go. In fact, you should cut off caffeine afternoon. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!). This also includes cigarettes, alcohol, and chocolate (yes, even chocolate). While alcohol can initially induce sleep, it has been shown to disturb later sleep cycles.
  5. Improve Your Sleep Environment: Everything from what you wear to bed, your bed itself, and the room temperature (ideal temperature is 60-67 degrees) should be comfortable. And this next item is tough- remove exposure to all blue-light devices within two hours of going to bed. This includes televisions, smartphones, computers, and tablets. The light from these devices can interfere with melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycles.
  6. Get Sunshine & Exercise: During the day, get some sunshine and exercise. Notice I said during the day for exercise? Exercising too closely to bedtime can impact sleep. By doing these during the day, it affirms for your body that it’s daytime; time for being productive, active, and alert.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

Serves 1-2

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Instructions:

  • Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
  • Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
  • Blend until creamy.
  • Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

Williamson, A., & Feyer, A., (2000). Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(10), 649–655. https://doi.org/10.1136/oem.57.10.649