The WHO has declared that this is a pandemic.
We are locked inside our houses, we can’t go outside, we can’t work.
It is a difficult time, people are afraid and it is difficult to understand and accept what is happening.
Now we know that this virus is not just a flu, it can be much more serious. We know that it mainly affects the airways.
So what can we do to protect ourselves?
At the moment there is no vaccination, the only defence we have is our immune system.
And… How do we strengthen our immune system?
There are healthy ways to strengthen our immune system:
The first defense is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Following the general indications for good health is the best step we can take to keep our immune system naturally strong and healthy.
Each part of our body, including the immune system, works better, protects itself from external attacks and it is strengthened by adopting healthy habits such as:
Having a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
Getting enough sleep.
Taking care of avoiding infections by washing our hands frequently and cooking meat well.
One of the greatest threats for our immune system’s efficiency is stress.
Modern medicine has proven the relationship between mind and body. In particular, some neuroscientists from Pittsburgh University have identified evidence about this mind-body connection.
Thanks to the results of the research, we can better understand why meditation and practices like yoga can be so useful to modulate the body’s responses to physical, mental and emotional stress.
A great variety of physical illnesses, stomach aches, allergies and even heart disease, are connected to the effects of emotional stress.
Prolongued stress can lead us to overthinking and stop breathing adequately and this is very negative for our organism.
Breathing and particularly deep breathing help ensure that everything functions properly in the human body.
our cells are regenerating all the time and they can’t do this without oxygen. Breathing is the fastest and most efficient way for our bodies to obtain oxygen.
The problem is that in general we have the tendency to breathe very superficially.
This type of breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of movement. The lower part of the lungs does not receive a sufficient quantity of oxygenated air. This can make us feel breathless and anxious.
Deep breathing helps our immune system regenerate the cells to fight infections and other illnesses that affect us.
It has been demonstrated that certain breathing exercises greatly increase our immune system’s efficiency.
A study from 2005 has shown the potentials of some breathing practices (Pranayama) and of rythmic breathing, for improving the immune system and stress-reduction.
The study was carried out with cancer patients and the results showed that practicing breathing exercises regularly can help stimulate the immune cells that can arrest the progression of cancer.
The better the air quality and the deeper the breathing, the more it will help our immune system function correctly.
Deep abdominal breathing facilitates a good oxygen exchange, that is to say, the exchange between incoming oxygen and outgoing carbon dioxide.
For this reason, it can slow down the heartbeat and reduce or stabilize blood pressure.
Routine practice of deep breathing helps improve our immune system in general.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Seeing as our immune system responds to negative and positive thoughts, meditation creates a positive mental environment so that the immune system may prosper.
A recent study has shown that after receiving weekly meditation training for a period of 8 weeks, 48 biotech workers had a significantly higher number of antibodies than the control group (colleagues who did not meditate), and also a higher number than before the study.
We will certainly need more research in order to understand well the effects of yoga, breathing and meditation. Meawhile, since we know they work in many different ways, it probably is’t a bad idea to use them.
Even just a few minutes each day can change the way we function and in time we can have results, from bigger ones (our mood and behaviour) to the smallest: our genes.