8 Tips for wellbeing during lockdown. Stay healthy and happy.Blog
During these difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic we are living nowadays, our health and wellbeing must be our priority. So many questions about health, ageing, disease, psychological balance, are making us think of ourselves and how we are performing as biological entities. How healthy, how well we are ageing and how happy we are key questions that we need to investigate and act on building a better self.
I find myself wondering, that now that I have the time how can I use it to improve my health and wellbeing during lockdown not only to protect myself from an infection but to reinvent a better version of me, healthier, happier and in harmony with my environment.
Biohacking is a great way to improve human biology by optimising our natural resources. Our bodies and minds have magnificent biological potential and since ancient times humans keep exploring it, in small little steps, as science now justifies that we can indeed manage our health prospects in a natural way. From Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture as an immune system enhancer, to use of vitamin D, red light therapy as well as nootropics and good productive sleep, all are well-researched ways to improve our wellbeing.
Sleep well, wake up healthy
Now that we do have time to sleep, is particularly important to get the full benefits of allowing our bodies to repair and regenerate. A poor sleep negatively affects our hormones, digestive flora, brain function and potentiates malignancies, stroke or heart conditions. Monitoring the quality of sleep is an important starting point to identify patterns and improve our mental wellbeing. Sleep apps can detect sleep cycle problems and give a lot of information that we can use to bio-hack our bedtime.
Avoiding coffee at night, exercising morning or afternoon, minimising or blackout, light in the bedroom, isolating Wi-Fi signal and electronic devises, are easy ways to create the environment and the mental state for a productive sleep. Difficulty sleeping is sometimes the first symptom of depression with up 15% -20% of people diagnosed with long term insomnia may develop concerning depression complications.
The body’s immune response is regulated by cytokines produced by cells, which are molecular messengers between cells and regulate various inflammatory responses. Cytokines interact with cells of the immune system in order to regulate the body’s response to disease and infection, as well as mediate normal cellular function in the body. Cytokines also help with a productive sleep, giving the immune system more energy to restore immune system. Our sleep influenced by our Internal time keeping system “circadian clock” that plays a key role in driving the daily rhythms and crucial for our immune system as it affects immune responses and intracellular communication while we sleep.
As the relationship of sleep with immune system is evident, optimising quality of sleep is especially important.
Thing to consider for a good sleep:
Exercise during the day: As the brain compensates for the extra physical stress such as exercise, it reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the length of sleep especially of people with chronic sleep disturbances.
Choose appropriate dinner at the right time: Including foods high in tryptophan, several hours before bedtime can improve sleep quality. Tryptophan is an amino acid brain uses to create serotonin, which helps regulate sleep cycle. Complex carbohydrate-based dinner affects serotonin production whereas too much sugar and processed carbs get absorbed quickly and make us wake up frequently during the night.
Take natural aids to improve sleep: Ginger Tea with dried dates is an effective way to aid digestion, include fibre and regulate glucose pick after food.
Magnesium also increases brain levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain messenger with calming effects and is ideal for disturbed sleep especially with people suffering from restless leg syndrome (RLS). Chronic stress depletes our body of magnesium, leading to magnesium deficiency symptoms that contributes towards aggravated symptoms of RLS.
Herbal booster for your immune system
Medicinal herbs are traditionally used to cleanse, support and strengthen the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to promote health and wellbeing. Amongst the most evident herbs, Adaptogens, are a nontoxic plant extracts that are used to increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning. They boost immunity by supporting and balancing the endocrine system. More specifically laboratory tests have shown that they support adrenal functions, help cells to use oxygen more efficiently and increase cellular respiration.
The immune stimulating properties of adaptogen herbs are due to the ability to stimulate a specific white blood cell called a macrophage. These white cells destroy pathogens in the blood such as bacteria, yeast, and viruses. They live in the mucus membranes of the body such as lungs inner walls, but also travel through the internal organs.
They are considered unique Immune booster herbs because they support the bone marrow reserve, from which the macrophage and all other immune cells and reds blood cells are produced.
Astragalus root (Huang Qi) known as a ‘Yellow Leader’ is one of the herbs of immortality used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is an adaptogen super herb that acts in the body in a multifaceted manner, affecting several organs and body functions simultaneously. It helps bringing the body into balance, returning it back to its normal state.
It is so superior herb, that one of its main active components, astragaloside complex, has been extracted, isolated and patented under the name TA-65 and marketed as a longevity and anti-ageing agent. Its superior benefits are due to astragaloside’s specific capability to activate telomerase, an enzyme that is slowing down the shortening of telomeres (sections of DNA found at the ends of each of our chromosomes), therefore prolonging our lifespan. Shortening of telomeres relates to cellular aging and the development old-related illnesses.
Licorice is one of the most well-known herbs in the world. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the herb is included in most herbal prescriptions to harmonise the action of all other herbs. Licorice is very soothing and softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach and at the same time clears inflammation. Licorice also enhances immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights viruses. Glycyrrhizinic acid, an active compound in the herb, also seems to stop the growth of many bacteria and of viruses such as influenza A. the herb contains potent antioxidants as well as certain phytoestrogens that can be beneficial for menopausal concerns.
Schisandra Chinensis, comes from a vine native to China and parts of Russia. The Schisandra berry is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and boasts many health benefits. Schisandra extract and its berry derivative are known as an adaptogen, which helps prevent physical and chemical stress on the body. In Chinese medicine we use Schisandra as a lung tonic together with Siberian Ginseng and Rhodiola Rosea (adaptogen herbs), utilising a compound found in Schisandra, Schisandrin B, that inhibits the growth of both C. pneumoniae and other bacteria attacking our immune system.
How breathing techniques helps your wellbeing during lockdown
Breathwork is an enormously powerful, transformative, and most available tool for biohacking the mind/brain and body biological functions. Some of breathing work available on social media are mostly focus on the spiritual aspect of the techniques, however a lot of clinical evidence demonstrate that breathing methods can alter our biology.
Breathing helps to boost red blood cells in the body, oxygen to the tissues of the muscle, affects the immune system to fight against illness or disease. Immune cells critical for the immune system, such as Natural killer (NK) cells can be increased by controlled rhythmic breathing, over a few months period. Breathing methods trigger neural networks beyond the brain stem that are tied to emotions, attention, as well as body awareness. By influencing these networks using breathing techniques, we gain access to regulating our responses to stress and emotional wellbeing.
They are so many different breathing methods from ancient Tibetan and yogi traditions to modern clinical based techniques embraced or even founded by doctors and are now part of NHS advise to enhance oxygen lung capacity during the pandemic of Covid19. Most well-known techniques are the Wim Hof method, 4-7-8 breath, SOMA breathing, fire breathing, Buteyko Breathing, alternate nostril breathing, Decompression breathing and so many others depending where they originate from.
Intermittent fasting for weight-loss. An ancient method of self-healing
Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most thoroughly researched health and fitness associated trends, that improve our health and wellbeing. It involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating and they are many ways to do it to suit every individual. IF is a powerful way to enhance health and wellbeing packed with scientific research which claims weight loss, anti-ageing, and myriad of other health conditions.
This type of fasting is not only for people who want to manage their weight, but for everybody who wants to manage how the body is ageing and maximise its performance minimising health risk factors. Intermittent fasting reduces insulin levels, improves genetic dispositions, reduces oxidative stress, increases human growth hormone, cellular repair, improve brain function and lengthen life span.
- intermittent fasting lowers inflammation and oxidative stress as it may trigger an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces risk conditions associated with digestive issues—and even improve pulmonary function in people with asthma.
- Two to three day fast may reduce pro-growth signalling and enhance cellular resistance to toxins.
- Increase cellular functions
- Triggers stem cell growth that helps with body renewal process
- Activates autophagy mechanisms that destroy malfunctioned cells (senescent) and encourage production of new ones
- Encourages neurochemical pathways and new brain cells, encouraging neuroplasticity which is vital for cognitive health.
- It alleviates depression and protects against strokes.
Despite the new research constantly updating the benefits of intermittent fasting, the method is an ancient way to manage health and prolong life. It has been used for therapeutic reasons earlier than 5th century and it said that the Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness. As medicine evolves and justified by science, it highlights the benefits of intermittent fasting as the invaluable method of self-healing. Small changes in our daily routines can have significant impact on our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being, toward health.
Nootropics, focus during lockdown
Nootropics or cognitive enhancers are natural or synthetic substances that can be taken to enhance mental performance and cognitive wellbeing. We use a nootropic every day when we drink coffee, by absorbing caffeine or for tea lovers L-Theanine from green tea which have very beneficial effects on our cardiovascular and cognitive functions. Nootropics, when are taken according medical advice on individual needs, are especially useful supplements that are important for our cognitive and psychological health, especially during this pandemic quarantine.
Mushroom polysaccharide There are many brands that offer mushroom supplements with up to 60-80% of polysaccharide content which include B-glucans, A-glucans and glucan-protein actives. Clinical evidence suggest that polysaccharides have numerous pharmaceutical properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antitumor, anti-obesity, anti-diabetes, anticoagulant, immunomodulatory, cardioprotective, liver, kidney and brain protection, neuroprotective effects.
DMAE is a compound that is known as a mind master enhancer. It reduces oxidation build up, which impairs cognitive function. It also increases levels of the compound helping with memory, acetylcholine that acts as a neurotransmitter, facilitating cellular communication. Skincare products often use this ingredient to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles associated with skin sagging, muscle tone and inflammation.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC). NAC is an amino acid that regulates the amount of glutamate and dopamine in the brain. And is a precursor to glutathione which reduces free radicals, having an important role on our immune system. Glutathione is very important for proper brain function, lung function, and liver detoxification. The nutrient breaks up mucus, especially in the lungs and respiratory tract protecting the lungs from infections. NAC also treats treatment resistant depression by alleviating brain inflammatory oxidative stress and improves quality of life in multiple mental health conditions.
Rebounder workout. Get fit and healthy.
Rebounder or trampoline is one of the most effective exercise for all ages and capabilities to significantly improve overall health. NASA has investigated the effects of this exercise on heart and immune system with some extraordinary results. Rebounding involves jumping on a trampoline which increases blood and lymph circulation using much less pressure on joints, being extremely beneficial for our immune system as it flashes toxic bioproducts off our bodies. This type of exercise utilises the force of gravity, as well as the forces of acceleration and deceleration, where most of other forms of exercise are using gravity which puts a lot of strain to our bodies.
This type of exercise is a powerful body detoxifier as it affects the lymphatic system. Lymphatic mechanism defends the body against infection, viruses, bacteria. The fluid contained in this system is three times more than the blood that the heart is circulating throughout the body, however the movement of lymphatic fluid relies exclusively on body movement. Congestion of lymphatic circulation can cause and trigger serious medical conditions.
The exercise of this type can have significant benefits on our wellbeing, immune system, oxygenation, bone density, metabolism, cellular function, posture, eyesight, lung health and so many other health and mental benefits.
Treat your skin with red light therapy at home
The big lead into research of red-light therapy began in 1993 when NASA was looking at ways to boost the health of astronauts in space.
The skin as well as the brain responds to the particular frequency of light by encouraging more energy at the cellular level. Plants do respond to light as well by using the mechanism of photosynthesis in their leaves. Phototherapy uses high-power LEDs to saturate the body with specific wavelengths of light between 630 and 700 nanometres. Red light works by producing a biochemical effect in cells that activates the mitochondria (organelles found in large numbers in cells, acting as factories of respiration and energy production – ATP, adenosine triphosphate). With more energy, cells can function more efficiently, rejuvenate themselves and repair damage. Photo-biomodulation or light therapy boosts cellular health and function, immunity, wound healing, reducing inflammation and improving cell regeneration.
In addition, it helps regulating hormonal thyroid function, reduces the intensity of hot flashes in menopausal women, supports liver health, lowers inflammation in chronic conditions, alleviates anxiety and depression, encourages good sleep as well as overall wellbeing and countless benefits skin health.
Using red light therapy for skin rejuvenation, has become the breakthrough science in beauty industry as there is a lot of research to suggest the benefits of phototherapy on skin health and ageing. Many cosmetics brands have launched portable, handheld versions of the in-office LED treatments and is offered in clinics and salons as well as available online for home use. The light therapy reduces the DNA damage on a cellular level induced by UV sun exposure, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, helps with pigmentation and skin discoloration, boosts collagen production, helps with skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and speeds up wound healing.
Meditation challenges your mindfulness during Covid-19
Meditation is one of the very ancient biohacking mind techniques with significant impact on our wellbeing. It has incorporated in different cultural and religious backgrounds and has been vastly misunderstood as only being a religious or spiritual practice.
With significant thoroughly researched benefits ranging from relieving daily stress to lengthening telomeres and increasing grey matter in the brain, this practice has been acknowledged as one of the most beneficial biohacking lifestyle methods. With over 2000 meditation apps and a billion pounds industry embracing meditation in all forms and shapes, the technique can be adjusted according to the individual needs and background at the comfort of their own house.
Guided, candle staring, breath counting, mantra chanting, present moment focus, observer, or mindfulness focus meditation to mention few, changes brain, neurological as well as psychological responses with profound insights on our perception of ourselves and our reality. Meditation is a complex mind-body biohacking method that induces changes in cognition, sensory perception, emotions, altering brain chemicals and circuitry as well as autonomic nervous system activity.
Conclusion. Stay home, stay healthy, invest to yourself
During this lockdown period I find that this is a great opportunity to try some of these biohacking techniques and add one more as the week unfolds. Self-improvement is a skill that is embodied in our nature and the way we feel and perform determines our real biological age and wellbeing.
These days of lockdown we have a great opportunity to invest in ourselves and manage our physical and psychological health.